There was some stellar fashion, celebrities on the catwalk, spurts of drama and a very enthusiastic audience. The second day of Fashion Pakistan Week brought it all together and rolled with it. It did meet some inevitable speedbumps along its way but overall, it was a day that gathered pace as it progressed and even nudged the fashion envelope quite a bit.
On the downside, most collections had hit and miss moments and there were very few line-ups that were all-out winners. It’s strange how sometimes established designers begin yo-yoing between absolute must-haves and strange blunders all in the same collection.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, we would have certainly liked the fashion better had the show started and ended on time. Council members were heard mumbling that attendees aren’t punctual which leads to delays. Perhaps they should just set a precedent by starting without waiting for the starlets that can’t seem to leave the red carpet.
There’s more on that later. Here’s what we thought:
Zaheer Abbas’ all-white cottons were refreshingly minimalistic. Pleated, collared and cinched with belts, the tunics were mostly baggy with flirty hems and quite a bit of draping.
It was very boho-chic, very well-structured, absolutely easy breezy but somewhere along the way, the line-up did get a tad monotonous. A live cock, clutched bravely by Rubya Chaudhry, provided the only spurt of color and lead to quite a few innuendo-laden quips on social media, if you know what we mean. Showstopper Humaima Malick was at her coquettish, overdramatic best. Flipping her hair, sashaying a bit and striking multiple poses, her theatrics are probably going to look great when FPW gets aired on TV.
As we step into a long hot summer, this collection could really sell well – should Zaheer choose to walk the retail path. That’s something that he doesn’t always do.
Possibly the most cohesive collection of the day, Jafferjees placed the spotlight on their all-time favorites this time around.
Out rolled a diverse array of timeless ‘it’ bags to a trippy, classic soundtrack: trunks, bead bags, satchels, bucket bags and gorgeous little clutches, among others. What’s great is that most of these bags are consistently available at Jafferjees stores. It was also wise of the brand to stick to its traditional ethos rather than dabble with modern, over-the-top lines just in order to create catwalk magic. Their palette may have been austere but it was their quintessential varnished leather and fine craftsmanship that stood out.
As always, the brand collaborated with designer Wardha Saleem and brought on a bit of vintage drama. The male models wore suits or shirts printed with shoes, hats and pipes and one even wore a top hat and carried an umbrella. The women traipsed out in classy halter saris, shirts with pearly collars, organza capes and wraps and dresses, tunics and pants fashioned from old-school prints.
The bags sell well, as it is – but Wardha also needs to bring some of these prints to her store, soon. As fashion week collaborations go, the Wardha Saleem-Jafferjees equation, has become something of an all-time hit. They didn’t disappoint this time either.
Just when you think Gul Ahmed is just going to present yet another voile show with implausible design, the textile house suddenly gives you a pleasant surprise!
The clothes were fun, instantly eye-catching and had one wishing that some of them would filter down to the brand’s stores.
Mirror-work and chunri dominated a collection of lighthearted on-trend silhouettes. There were single-sleeved asymmetric kaftans, slouchy shirts with a tie-n-dye effect and waistcoats, boleros and long jackets embellished with technicolor borders of mirrors and embroideries. An all-white ensemble worn by Noor Bhatti had a voluminous trailing back with elaborate thread embroideries worked out on the sleeves and neck.
It seems that, after multiple fashion week disasters, Gul Ahmed has finally gotten the plot right. Let’s hope it doesn’t lose it again!
Amir Adnan should show at fashion weeks more often. He continues to be one of the few astute menswear designers in the country and should he wish it, he has the design acumen and business foresight to shake male apparel out of its kurta-clad ennui.
His city-life inspired collection had some strong elements: waistcoats, printed cotton sherwanis and layered kurtas where plain whites and prints were merged with denims. The few Western outfits were less impressive. Adnan’s forte continues to lie with reinventing traditional silhouettes. This collection was certainly a break from norms although the rolled up pants, bandannas and long hair worn by many of the models were confusing: were these men supposed to be out at sea?
A smiling Azfar Rehman played showstopper - quite as showstopping was Amir Adnan himself, who one rarely sees out in the limelight.
There was so much in Huma Adnan’s line-up that was immediately wearable. Silk and block-print on shalwars and culottes, three-dimensional embroideries, coins stitched on to shirts and woven into statement thread jewelry and her staple line of waistcoats. One also knows that the designer will quickly bring the line-up to her stores. From ramp to retail, more designers need to understand that simple business rule.
Then again, there were times that Huma meandered off the fashion high road. The shirts masquerading as dresses would have looked so much better had they been paired with lowers, some of the organza designs weren’t particularly innovative and a model wearing a studded cap stood out like a sore thumb in a predominantly pretty collection.
Sonya Hussain played the somewhat baffling celebrity showstopper. Looking far more glamorous from her usual TV avatars, there was a general confusion regarding her identity before it was confirmed!
Full marks to Nauman Arfeen for doling out great entertainment.
Four adorable little boys started off his show, prancing to a euphoric ‘Dhoom macha le dhoom’ and they were followed up by Amin Gulgee, giving the cameras a field day with his theatrics, snarling and striking macho poses.
And then, amidst the usual milieu of male models came a doctor, a horticulturalist, a retired brigadier and ad-maker Shahzad Nawaz who made the catwalk sizzle better than most of the models.
Fast-paced and energetic, it was Nauman’s diversion from his usual bridal territory towards summer day and evening-wear.
There was color, eagle-inspired prints and some interesting kurtas, teemed with a waistcoat or a dhoti shalwar. Nauman does need to work on his fit, though – an all-important aspect to menswear, both Western and Eastern.
Bows, ruffles and pearly smatterings of sequins were the downfall of Lahore-based Zainab Salman’s fashion week debut. One could see how certain nuances to her design might appeal to her clientele – pastels with embroidery is a ruling-but-hackneyed retail trend – but she needs to refrain from over-large bows. And when she chooses to line a flared pant, it needs to be done throughout its length rather than half-way through!
Zainab needs to develop a concrete signature and work on finishing before her next fashion week outing.
It was an ode to the Orient and splayed Chinese fans, quadrangled homes, pottery and serpentine dragons danced their way on Ayesha Hashwani’s canvas.
The prints were beautiful and they were the collection’s strongest selling points, complemented by bright bursts of color, tassels and occasional sprinklings of bling. The silhouettes, meanwhile, toed very safe lines, presenting much that the designer has shown before in earlier collections: capes, kaftans, pants and dresses.
Certain outfits didn’t work: a beige full-length dress with light blue embroidery worn by Nooray Bhatti seemed outdated and faux flowers stitched onto a gown leaned towards the over-the-top. Overall, though, it was Ayesha playing out her comfort zone - evening luxe –with ease.
All photographs are by Tapu Javeri