One knows what to expect from a fashion week centred around a ‘Winter Festive’ theme, given that Pakistan’s chief source of winter festivities are weddings. One knew that the Fashion Pakistan Week catwalk would be perpetually littered with bling, shimmer and all the flotsam and jetsam that tends to entrance the wedding-bound crowd.
But one also expects a fashion week to set a few trends in motion.
Wedding-wear, in essence, may be a predictable, generically pretty genre but this is no excuse for presenting design that fumbles through a mish-mash of gaudy inspirations.
This was the unfortunate case on the first day of FPW. The runway shows started at a high enough note but quickly fizzled down to a mundane hum, revived only occasionally with a few spurts of well-conceived design. Even the diverse, flawless looks presented by the N-Pro styling team working backstage couldn’t save the day.
A word about the red carpet: The fashion week red carpet should ideally be replete with style statements and glamour, with celebrities and fashion icons taking center stage. At FPW, though, the carpet yawned on, thronged merely by journalists, bloggers and the small minority of Karachi’s design fraternity that chose to turn up.
Celebrity attendance was merely non-existent with FM89’s Saad Haroon and Sarwat Gillani possibly being the only famous non-fashion faces that one spotted. Fashion, brought down with paid social media posts and commercial aspirations, has lost much of its verve and it seems that so have fashion-related events.
The dull red carpet wouldn’t have mattered as much had the fashion been less run-of-the-mill. Sadly, this wasn’t the case.
The first collection at FPW was veritably the best of the day.
Misha Lakhani’s formals have an old-school glamour about them, the silhouettes move with an easy elegance, the embroideries are detailed but never over-the-top and the colour palette is subtle, refusing to be overbearing even in the heaviest of designs.
The boxy embroidered shirt – a Misha Lakhani mainstay - came paired with ajars, tapered tulip shalwars. culottes and a farshi gharara; artistic tukri was worked on a voluminous hand-woven dupatta; chikankari wound its way upon shirts; a crushed anarkali flowed freely and appliqué was worked with embroideries.
This was the designer in her element, staying true to her subdued, sophisticated ethos in a genre that is fast becoming alarmingly uninspiring.
Aamna Aqeel’s ‘Palace Wonderland’ had highs and lows. One has to give credit to the designer for thinking beyond quintessential wedding-wear and including slinky number that could work their way into a ball.
There were pieces that were eye-catching: among them, the blacks worked with gold filigree, culottes bordered with beige floral swirls and a full-sleeved embellished sari worn by Nadia Hussain. However, there were other pieces that didn’t make much impact – the off-shoulder pink shirts, for instance.
Better fitting and finer workmanship would perhaps have helped enhance this collection. Aamna certainly knows how to inject glamour into apparel but she needs to do so with a keener eye on structure and finishing.
And here’s where one started wondering if collections were edited at all for FPW.
Erum Khan’s 'Bridal Odyssey' was replete with an overdose of thick embroideries. The long-hackneyed peplum made a not-too-welcome appearance, there were the requisite bridal reds and some unfathomable cutwork. The kiran border also made appearances. (Kiran, by the way, is now definitely an ‘in’ thing in wedding fashion and considering the way it flitted into every collection, it may just become the future peplum.)
Erum Khan may have been thinking ‘market-friendly’ when she conceived this collection but even from a retail point of view, the clothes yo-yoed from the commonplace to the veritably unwearable.
Obaid Sheikh has become a regular participant at FPW now and it’s high time that he uses the platform to show fashion that actually stands out. His ‘Husan Ara’ was humdrum, featuring designs one had seen umpteen times before.
Saira Rizwan knows how to please her clientele. She has a good eye for creating lawn but she flailed here and there in the wedding-wear realm.
The jackets, belted at the waist, paired with culottes and the one-shoulder toga-style shirts looked like potential hot-sellers. The lehngas were also prettily worked with silver embroideries.
But there were instances where Saira seemed to be trying too hard. The sari-pant of sorts worn by Fauzia Aman seemed to have gotten lost in translation. This collection could have been much better.
Suffuse’s line-up of heavily-embellished glitter-infested silver ensembles were tasteful and well-cut. Designer Sana Yasir clearly has a penchant for embroideries and her finishings aren’t too bad either.
What Suffuse direly needs to do now is to develop a distinctive signature of its own. While the designs are sure to attract in heavy duty business, there are many other labels that have presented silver on silver work in the past.
To become a fashion heavyweight, an atelier needs to present fashion that is instantly recognizable as its own. This is where Suffuse has been faltering for some time. It now needs to move away from looking like this or that brand and become an entity all on its own.
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All photographs by Faisal Farooqui and his team at Dragonfly