A sigh seemed to be heaved across the auditorium as the second day of Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW) unfolded.
Finally, there was some bona fide fashion on the catwalk, a few trends could be spotted here and there and some well-conceived collections showed promise of becoming best-sellers. Credit goes to designers Sanam Chaudhri, Wardha Saleem and Deepak Perwani for this much-needed reprieve from a disastrous first day.
The rest of the designer entourage fumbled from the good, to the bad to the ugly. Having sat through the previous day’s shows, one had sadly come to expect this.
A smattering of celebrities and designers added some spark to the red carpet – a smiling Feroze Khan, actor Alyy Khan, director Asim Raza, politico Sharmila Farooqui and designers HSY and Umar Sayeed.
However, the oomph that had once defined the FPW’s of yore was still missing. Where was the rest of Karachi’s crème de la crème? Why was the ambiance so lackluster? Was fashion week not the ‘it’ place to be anymore? Or perhaps, is fashion rendered commonplace due to over-exposure, not the ‘it’ thing anymore?
Socialite attendance notwithstanding, fashion weeks are ideally business-centric events and it was good to see the ramp-to-retail model put into motion. On the first day, it was announced that designer Aamna Aqeel’s collection is going to be available at the Ensemble store in Karachi from the very next day. On the second day, high-street brand HEM's showcase was followed by an announcement that their clothes, too, will be stocked at the multi-label. The business of local fashion finally seems to have found direction. All that is needed now is better fashion.
And based on second day of FPW, this may just be possible – in some cases, at least…
Sanam Chaudhri’s Pandora’s box unleashed a range of off-beat formal-wear onto the catwalk. There was an effortless elegance to Sanam’s designs; the embroidered motifs were unique and the silhouettes traversed modern, flattering lines.
There were some definitive statement makers: long capes, short jackets, sleeves fashioned from a tangled web of cutwork, a half jacket worn over a sari, pleats and striped prints, coming together to form a collection that oozed glamour.
A contemporary, individualistic take on formals in a market where everything has started to look the same was precisely what FPW needed to roll off to a savvy, energetic start.
Spinning her colour wheel, Wardha Saleem infused an ebullient mix of colours into her ‘Dholak’.
It was a collection targeted towards Mehndis and the designer brought on the drama with drums playing out onto the catwalk and models breaking into occasional bhangra. Beyond this dhol dhamaka, though, the designs were head-turners all on their own.
Wardha’s signature birds flitted about on lehngas and men’s waistcoats and some of the prettiest designs glinted with traditional kamdani. The designs were very detailed, worked with gota, appliqué, basketry and the colours came splayed out in a glorious, gorgeous rainbow.
Wardha’s increasingly strong signature with wedding wear was clearly apparent. From fashion shoots to TV appearances to now, this FPW showcase, Wardha’s long had her sights set on the wedding-wear market.
One had always enjoyed her whimsical takes on prêt – it was refreshing to see her bring the same ethos to formals, albeit gilded with the requisite sequins, bling and embroideries galore.
Emraan Rajput presented a range of men’s suits on the runway and chose to play it safe with a subdued palette. However, the designer perhaps played it a bit too safe because the clothes weren’t very noticeable.
To give the designer due credit, many of the suits were well-cut, following sleek lines and paired with ties and bow-ties.
Perhaps Emraan Rajput was thinking ‘market-friendly’ when he brought this collection onto the catwalk and was aiming to put forward classic pieces. Perhaps he should have dabbled a bit more with design and also thought ‘fashion week’.
The signature Sadaf Malaterre diaphanous fabrics were there; so were the swaying fringes, the layering and the anglicized silhouettes. One wishes that there had been more.
Aside from a pleated dress worn by Mehreen Syed, Sadaf didn’t seem to be too interested in presenting new silhouettes or delving towards craft. Even the fabrics weren’t unique, dominated by generic sequins and unremarkable velvets.
One has seen Sadaf rock the runway in the past with her tongue-in-cheek, laidback take on luxury-wear. This time she disappointed.
HEM's take on formals screamed 'high street'. The dashes of silver, pretty pastels, tasseled hems, dresses and tunics were pretty enough to sail right off retail racks, come Eid or wedding season. There was nothing new about the collection though.
It is important to note here that a lot of brands seem to equate skin show with cutting-edge fashion. A great collection may veer towards the risqué but there needs to be much more to it. The designers at HEM seemed to be making this error, presenting the same old silhouettes but making sure that a fair amount of skin peeked through.
From a high street point of view, it was a good line-up of evening-wear. But not quite the stuff that enthralls at fashion week.
The finale show belonged to Deepak Perwani, who sprinkled 'Gold Dust' over clothes that drifted from the wedding red and gold to champagne golds and greens. The men's sherwanis were very well-cut, accompanied by maroon shawls glinting with gold embellishment.
Intricately worked on an elegant colour palette, the designs were reflective of how the Deepak Perwani label has evolved, balancing design with retail aspirations.
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All photographs by Faisal Farooqui and his team at Dragonfly