Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW), on its second day, was held together by a range of segments that sifted through indigenous craft, hair and makeup, a mixed tribute by designer heavyweights and designs showcased recently in the Fashion DNA segment which is part of London Fashion Week. Most of these segments fortunately worked leading to a pleasant fashion jigsaw of sorts.
Dedicating a platform to showcasing traditional craft, for instance, is a great idea. Pakistan has a wealth of craftsmanship which is slowly dying out, being taken over by cost-effective, time-effective machine embroideries. A well-publicised platform at fashion week, focusing only on indigenous craft, may encourage more designers to sustain the village craftsmen and women who are currently living impoverished lives.
It also makes for a show that focuses on what is inherently Pakistani, tweaked and glossed into fashion-forward lines. Both collections in the traditional craft segment were shown on a catwalk for the very first time and it set FPW rolling on a high note.
The Khalarai collection, dominated by the embroideries of interior Sindh, was set off by the twinkle of mirror work and dainty hand embroideries. Nida Azwer, with her longstanding penchant for hand embroideries, was completely in her comfort zone, with a very summer-centric palette of beige, white and grey.
Silhouettes varied from the completely traditional to slinky luxe; ghararas, saris and Nida’s staple cinched kimono tops which now need to reworked towards newer territory. The highlight, though, were the fully handworked dupattas. An inherently beautiful collection upheld by meticulous craft.
It was lovely to have Inaaya back on the catwalk; modernising rilli and placing it in unique places in a garment, swathing risqué halter necks and skirts with mirrors, dabbling with traditional chata-pati and creating casually elegant silhouettes on a diverse mix of colors.
There were so many designs in Inaaya’s showcase that riveted; a bright pink sari infused with florals, an off-shoulder boat-neck with a thick rilli border around the neck, rilli traversing the lengths of lowered layers and an exquisite blue dupatta worn over all-white.
It was proudly, ebulliently Pakistani. It also came with a message, with the models carrying placards dedicated to women’s empowerment.
One hopes that now that designer Naushaba Brohi has found her way to the limelight again, she stays there. We need more of Inaaya, in our fashion shows and more significantly, on retail racks.
One had seen images from the Fashion DNA segment splattered across social media all through last week. The collections had been created as part of a mentorship program by the British Council Pakistan where local designers are guided by international experts on how to create well-finished fashionable apparel for the international market.
The selected ateliers – Munib Nawaz, Zuria Dor, The Pink Tree Company, Jeem, Sonya Battla and Gulabo – then showcased their collections at in the Fashion Scout segment that takes place in the UK during London Fashion Week.
Given the time and energy invested into the collections, it made sense to also showcase the collections at FPW, taking place a mere few days later. After all, Fashion Scout may earn experience and mileage for designers but until they manage to tap into the international market, designers have to rely on local customers to keep business rolling.
It was a diverse show with quite a few highlights. Sonya Battla’s range of indigo and white tie-n-dyes were absolute head-turners, infused with a spin on the traditional tukri and molded onto free-flowing, flattering silhouettes. The Pink Tree Company quintessentially played around with color and a cape worn by Nadia Hussain particularly caught the eye.
Zuria Dor exemplified their flair with the Western silhouette while Munib Nawaz presented well-tailored but somewhat wintry options for men, obviously having had kept London in mind. And then came Gulabo, staying true to its signature, fusing traditions with a hippie, uber-cool vibe, the looks styled with a range of ethnic accessories.
Hitherto, Toni & Guy South Pakistan had collaborated with local designers for their hair and make-up shows. As a result, often the clothes would get noticed more than the styling itself. Additionally, according to Creative Director Saeeda Mandviwala, attuning the looks to suit the clothes would end up diluting the purpose behind the show which is to introduce avant-garde international styling trends to the Pakistani populace.
This time, Toni & Guy selected the wardrobe themselves, keeping it simple while letting the hair and makeup take center stage. It did catch the eye – sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes for the wrong. The makeup could have been better but the hair was idiosyncratic, complex, fun. Miniscule braids wound through buns, distressed ends were sprayed stuff, hair was curled or wielded into soft waves, shaded into brilliant colors.
This was certainly not hair for the regular woman but the whole point was to set trends that could then be simmered down according to customer requirements. They were statements that could be hated or loved but couldn’t possibly go unnoticed.
It was a show that was high on energy but it would have fared better with better models. While in these times of diversity, the odd short or slightly overweight model may be admissible, new girls need to be taught how to walk gracefully. Some of them wound their way with difficulty, wearing shoes that were too high or a few sizes too big for them.
In contrast, a cheerful Zhalay Sarhadi twirling on the ramp was a great choice for a showstopper.
The monotones and androgyny in Amir Adnan’s show are what a market inundated with print needs. The women wore basic kurtas paired with monochrome pants and waistcoats. Possibly the best look in the collection was a basic black sherwani with gold buttons worn by Mehreen Syed.
Adnan is a pro at tailoring the sherwani and no one could have worn it better than the lissome Mehreen. The Eastern menswear was subtle and well-finished. One didn’t enjoy, though, the casual-wear.
It was, nevertheless, a collection that could have benefited from experimentation and innovations in styling. The crisp tailored lines will sell well at Amir Adnan stores but they should have made more impact on the catwalk.
Deepak Perwani’s experience shows in the finesse of his cuts. The womenswear in his ‘Pure’ traversed a palette of whites and off-whites and was refreshingly minimal. Lace was worked onto diaphanous sleeves and crystals shimmered ever-so-slightly. The men’s suits fused just the right bit of funky with a well-conceived palette, letting the men look like men in this sad age of sartorially blind dandies.
Classy, sophisticated and with a lack of bling that one really appreciated! Thick layers of sequins don’t equate to evening-wear; one wishes more designers would understand this.
And then came Amato, in an effusion of net and florals, featuring floor-length gowns, trails and appliqué. There was nothing particularly new about the embellishments and besides the entire collection was too princessy to be able to push the fashion envelope.
Closing the show was a grand finale featuring a mixed assortment of some of the country’s most illustrious designers, showcasing a few outfits each. The clothes were beautiful but many of them had been seen before at other shows or in fashion shows. One wishes that more of these labels had chosen to present individual collections instead of just creating two or three.
And this, in essence, was where Fashion Pakistan Week faltered. There should have been lesser capsules and more complete collections. Certain collections direly needed to be edited out. The timings needed to be regulated so that the event didn’t end after an exhausting 11 p.m. on both nights.
The second and final day of FPW was a good day for fashion. It could have been better. FPW, overall, could have been better. Celebrating their 10th year this time, the council needs to get stronger in order to celebrate 10 more.