A day that opens with great clothes and also closes powerfully is a great day for fashion. One gets so blinded by the sartorial brilliance of the beginning and ending that the mediocre that streams through in the middle can be ignored. Case in point, the third and final day of the PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week (PLBW) where a panorama of color uplifted one to an ebullient fashion high.
One could have floated a tad higher had fashion week not ended at an exhausting hour, after 11 p.m. at night. This is no time for work to take place and fashion week, one would like to believe, is a work-centric enterprise. It requires extensive effort to orchestrate these events and they are organised with the serious intention of boosting the business of fashion.
Should they end at a more decent hour, the world at large would also take them seriously rather than grasp them as an opportunity to ogle at models.
At the risk of being repetitive, why can’t we have fashion weeks during the day or early evening, like the rest of the world? Then again, as one designer – guess who? – quipped, “Some of the clothes are so garish that they can’t be showcased in broad daylight. The dark helps hide their flaws.”
Fortunately, this wasn’t the case on day three … at least, not for certain collections.
One could go on and on about Nomi Ansari’s craftsmanship, the impeccable cut of his silhouettes and how he always stays true to his signature. His atelier has always been associated with kaleidoscopic, unbridled color and Nomi plays with it every time, somehow managing to innovate with his multicolored palette.
His ‘Marjaan’ at PLBW this year reveled in effusions of glitter, scattered liberally on lehngas, dupattas and cholis. The thread embroideries were very fine and they were worked onto funky prints, ranging from zebra stripes to bold florals.
The classic farshi gharara made some beautiful appearances and one also noticed the use of two dupattas, one over the head and the other, draped casually around the arm. Predominantly, dupattas were fashioned from light nets and scattered with sequins, replacing their fully embellished, unwieldy counterparts that have been in vogue for the longest time.
Inspired by the festivity of Hyderabad, 'Marjaan' truly put one in a festive mood; these are the kind of clothes that one would twirl about in at a mehndi or bask in at a wedding. For once, Nomi Ansari didn’t have a celebrity taking to the catwalk for him – one heard rumors that his intended showstopper, a well-known actor, had been diverted away by the PTI rally taking place on the same night.
But these clothes didn’t require any showstoppers to enthrall their audience.
On a completely different tangent from Nomi, Zara Shahjahan’s ‘Mehrunnissa’ emulated old world elegance in the gentlest of hues. There was kiran on dupattas, the use of fabrics like tissue and kamkhwab, intricate embroideries and some very pretty ghararas paired with knee-high shirts.
Again, quite a few of the dupattas were lightweight rather than over-embellished – it seems to be a trend on the rise.
It was a cohesive, well-detailed collection. Having said this, a bit more innovation in cuts would have benefited the designs. Some of the clothes could also have been accentuated by pops of color. In single pastel hues, they ran the risk of fading amongst the milieu.
It was unfortunate that the first two exceptional showcases of the day were followed by Sonia Azhar who delivered one glitch after the other. There was fashion faux pas galore: unappealing floral prints, flounces, frills, lace and a gown fashioned into a mermaid shape.
The highlight of the show was when Ahsan Khan, high on the success of Udaari, walked the ramp. The lowlight within this highlight: the shocking pink gown Cybil wore as she walked with him.
In the sparse realm of menswear, Omar Farooq was the only designer to showcase an entire collection dedicated to men. It could have been a chance for the designer to rule the roost. Instead, the designs fluctuated constantly.
The high point were the well-tailored sherwanis fashioned from pastel-shaded prints and brocades. Embroidery was refreshingly kept to a minimum. The velvet jackets weren’t as flattering, embroidered as they were with floral designs.
While the clothes did have their strengths, one has seen better designs emerge from Republic in the past.
Muse laid focus on trousseau rather than full-on bridals and sifted through a palette of coral, crimson, peach and royal blue. The brand’s signature aesthetic was evident: there were metallic gold belts cinching the waist, laid-back wide-necked shirts and the embroideries, though heavy, were wielded in interesting clusters.
Some of the dupattas were lovely and it was good to see the baggy shalwar and the short anarkali on the catwalk.
Overall, though, the clothes were unflattering. There is a fine line between being garishly over-the-top and uber modern. Muse, generally, is a pro at walking it. This time they couldn't. Muse may have to do considerable tweaking before they let loose this collection in bridal wear’s very clustered market.
The one redeeming garment in the lineup was the bead-worked jacket worn by Hasnain Lehri - but then again, the dashing Mr Lehri may be the main reason for this.
The clothes did all the talking in Ali Xeeshan’s line-up titled ‘Khamoshi’…and they were happily shouting from rooftops, singing songs, chanting magic. One has long yearned for Ali to depart from his love for the nautanki to deliver a collection that was just about the clothes.
The finale this year did have its theatric moments and gave out an important message against child marriages, but there were no Disney characters on the runway and nobody wore a rooster on their heads (as Ali did, just a few days ago at the Magnum party in Karachi).
Instead, there was multi-colored bridal-wear that you could get lost in: splayed-out short peplums, fitted lehngas and heavy duty dupattas. The thread embroideries were sometimes so detailed that they looked like print and a mélange of flora and fauna flitted about Ali’s canvas: horses, peacocks, birds, et al.
There were also some very classy white options: Rabia Butt in a fitted shirt and a layered skirt and Mahira Khan in an extensively embroidered white and beige design. The menswear followed simpler lines: jackets and sherwanis in floral embroideries, brocades, prints.
With the clothes taking center stage, one enjoyed the show’s dramatic elements: stuffed toys held by Ali’s child bride and a baraat-like procession on the runway. This collection was long overdue from Ali Xeeshan. For once, he did away with the outlandish red carpet statements and proved that he was genuinely serious about his work. May Ali manage to balance out his love for drama with fashion just as easily next time.
He was also a great choice for the finale because he managed to shake us out of exhaustion … because it was late … past 11 p.m., in fact … are we sounding repetitive here?
All photographs by Faisal Farooqui and his team at Dragonfly