A day dedicated to debut shows can’t be all that great. These are, after all, fledgling ateliers still trying to find their feet. It was, therefore, no big surprise that the second day of the PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week (PLBW) wasn’t all that great. But the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) begged to differ.
“It’s true that all the collections weren’t exceptional but that was not the point of allowing them onto our platform,” said the council’s Chairperson, Sehyr Saigol. “By allowing them into the spotlight, we are giving them a chance to grow and improve their work. It’s not fair to only laud the older, established designers. Ideally, I’d want our fashion weeks to feature more new designers and less of the older ones.”
Nevertheless, it was two of the relatively older designers that saved the second day of PLBW.
Mahgul, particularly, was a stand out. The brand has been around for quite some time now, winning us over with capsule collections, regular exhibits and a very savvy spring/summer line-up earlier this year.
Shamsha Hashwani, similarly, is already dabbling with retail through her small but exceptionally trendy boutique in Karachi’s E-Street. It was truly high time that she ventured her exceptional signature onto the catwalk.
Here’s the lowdown:
With this collection, Mahgul truly came into its own within bridal’s glittery realm. These designs were meant for the fashion-forward only; sophisticated, well-structured and reinventing traditional embroideries into newer forms.
There were layered pants, cinched waists, slouchy jackets, culottes galore and a marble-hued satin especially developed by the atelier and fashioned onto clutches and apparel. One doesn’t get too excited about Mughal miniatures but to Mahgul's credit, they were worked with finesse, amidst beautiful chikankari, dabka and pearls.
Also noticeable was the kundan and polka statement panjas and teekas created by the brand in-house, dramatizing the formals sufficiently.
It all came together as a collection with a distinct personality, to be appreciated and worn by women who knew their fashion rather than mere followers of fads. Having said this, there were certain garments that fell victim to overdesigning. The finale lehnga worn by Sadaf Kanwal was hardly flattering and at other times, the effusive use of net did not make sense.
The high point of Shiza Hassan’s collection was her showstopper, the designer’s brother Aisamulhaq Qureshi taking to the catwalk. The tennis star is a veritable national icon and he had the audience cheering.
There were some interesting elements to the fashion: printed hunting scenes accentuated with stone-work and embroidered shawls. The color palette also worked at times; for instance, an aqua and mint green lehnga.
Shiza Hassan has promise which is why she has built a budding market in the two short years since she launched her label. Now she needs to develop a more decipherable signature in order to make a mark.
Farah and Fatima made one wonder whether the PFDC had refrained from editing collections. The clothes droned on, burdened with unflattering silhouettes, a mish-mashed color palette and embellishments that were run of the mill. Hardly a collection worth fashion week.
Saira Rizwan apparently has a burgeoning clientele in Lahore and her PLBW collection was probably targeted towards them.
It was a line-up that stepped into pastel’s long worn-out route and then, remained stuck there. An effusion of sequins, shimmer and net followed. Pretty enough for the regular bridal shopper but nothing new at a fashion week purported to be setting trends for the year to come.
Our favorite part of this show: the very pretty actress Hareem Farooq taking to the catwalk as Saira Rizwan’s showstopper.
One can’t fully appreciate Shamsha Hashwani’s workmanship from the catwalk’s vantage point. It is only when one scrutinises the clothes up-close that their understated elegance can be seen: the tiny pearls and smatterings of Swarovski interspersed amongst indigenous handwork.
The designer’s ‘Mughal mirage’ drifted through culottes that were cut high to the knee, embellished along the slits, simmered gharara pants and tapered short shirts. The flirty short angarkhas paired with shalwars were particularly enjoyable emulating wedding-wear for the trendy girl who prefers high fashion to overdoses of bling.
The canvas of mint greens and coral pinks was lovely and her extensively hand-worked shawls have the makings of a winter wedding success.
Having said this, one wishes designers would drift away from Mughal imagery. It featured frequently on Shamsha's canvas and while it may be crafted diligently, it doesn't bring anything new to the fore. The collection could also have benefited with some good old-fashioned drama. While extremely wearable, there was an oomph that was definitely missing.
The petite Sohai Ali Abro looked beautiful as Shamsha’s showstopper. She, along with the other starlets on the catwalk, added oomph to a fashion week which was, as always, low on celebrity quotient.
Instead, the black carpet redeemed itself with a rush of socialites all dressed in the latest designer-wear. Often the black carpet wardrobe is a lot better than what’s on the catwalk – sadly, this rang true for most of day two.
All photographs by Faisal Farooqui and his team at Dragonfly