From L-R: Zaheer Abbas, Rubya Chaudhry, Masarrat Misbah and Meera
From L-R: Zaheer Abbas, Rubya Chaudhry, Masarrat Misbah and Meera

Stand-alone shows for hair and makeup are a great idea. They are also a tricky idea. With fashion mushrooming into an all-pervasive money-minter and fashion weeks dictating apparel trends, an alternate show dedicated just to styling trends has the potential to be riveting. Or maybe not.

At fashion week, at least, the clothes on the catwalk may draw attention away from styling but once this distraction is eliminated, the focus is solely on the hair and makeup. If it manages to innovate and traipse the fine line between the commercial and the artisanal, then it would be a show that raises the bar.

This is precisely what salon heavyweight Depilex sought out to do at the Depilex Reveal ’17 show that recently took place in Lahore. One can’t say that it always succeeded in doing so.

A hair and makeup show without the trappings of apparel needs to truly push the envelope, it needs to be more of an experience rather than merely an exhibit. The Depilex Reveal ’17, while it tried hard, could have been a lot more.

Bigwigs from the fashion fraternity attended the first of its kind event
Bigwigs from the fashion fraternity attended the first of its kind event

The efforts and the considerable investments were visible. It couldn’t have had been easy to create looks for a whopping 64 models for a single show. It most certainly must have been expensive to orchestrate a show at Lahore’s Royal Palm and Golf Club and to fly in media for the event, all without the financial support of an external sponsor.

The show was testament to Depilex’s clout in the realm of beauty, with more than 60 salons dotted across the country and a career trajectory that traverses 37 years.

The brand’s CEO Masarrat Misbah’s business vision is undeniable and she has dovetailed it with her efforts to help acid burn victims with the Depilex Smileagain Foundation, providing the women with jobs in her extensive salon network.

Masarrat Misbah at the event
Masarrat Misbah at the event

This show, then, with Zaheer Abbas as show director and choreographer and designers Zaheer Abbas, Munib Nawaz, Omer Saeed and Zuria Dor providing the wardrobe to complement the looks, was Depilex’s way of acknowledging the unique hold it alone has over Pakistan’s mass-market.

“It is our practice to take out a regular catalog defining hair and makeup trends for the year and distribute it across our branches,” says Redah Misbah, Creative Head at Depilex and Masarrat Misbah’s daughter.

“Having completed 37 years now, we decided to showcase these looks on the catwalk this time. Most of our staff has been with us for a very long time and a show like this works well as a morale-building exercise. It’s also a great marketing platform. We now plan to make this a consistent annual event.”

Of course, Depilex Reveal also aimed to uplift Depilex’s image as a mass-centric – albeit very successful salon enterprise – to being a fashion-forward one. This is, perhaps, a task easier said than done.

Meera ji frowing at Depilex Reveal 2017
Meera ji frowing at Depilex Reveal 2017

The show was divided into three segments – Bridal Hair and Makeup, Hair Colour and Avant Garde Hair and Makeup – and dissecting it bit by bit, hair extension to hair extension, here’s our lowdown:

What worked

With multicolours freewheeling into international hair trends, the Hair Colour segment made some quirky statements. There were stylized waves, flouncy perms and sleek, straight cuts … all dipped into a colour wheel that rolled from the basic balayage to eccentric violets, blues, coppery reds and tangerines.

Dare to go red this winter?
Dare to go red this winter?

The colour segment, in fact, felt more ‘avant garde’ than the self-professed ‘Avant Garde’ lineup at the end where the hair and makeup hinted at gothic influences. Perhaps the aim was to create startling images and in that case, then, the models that walked out in structured leather certainly made an impression. Fauzia Aman, for the finale, gave big hair an all new meaning by taking on the unenviable task of modeling a fierce, thick auburn set with elaborate headgear.

Fouzia Aman working that runway
Fouzia Aman working that runway

There were others, their faces dotted with black smudges, their eyebrows barely visible, with surreal braids twisted about their faces, multi-tiered hair and science-fiction inspired headgear balanced on the head. Had this segment claimed to be inspired by science-fiction, the title would not have gone amiss. It was, nonetheless, an impactful end to the show.

Safe but slick, the men's styling was on point.
Safe but slick, the men's styling was on point.

A word here, also, on the men’s styling, which was neat, slick and likely to appeal to the desi dandy or the wedding-bound young man. It did stick to the safe, though – much like most Pakistani menswear.

The utter lows

Meanwhile, the wedding looks could have benefited from a dose of versatility. One wished that the models could have sifted through different complexions rather than adhere to a generic ‘fair and lovely’; that effortless, lustrous locks could have replaced tired beehive buns and an overall lighter layer of makeup could have created fresher looks. These wedding-bound styles may appeal to a large contingent of Depilex’s regular clientele but some innovation would have worked well.

They had the chance to push the boundaries but ended up doing what they do best
They had the chance to push the boundaries but ended up doing what they do best

On a similar vein, while there were artistic elements within the hairstyling, it suffered every now and then from an overdose of hairspray. As a result, the hair looked less natural.

What could have worked

And yet, Depilex, in putting out a Hair and Makeup show, may have set the stage for a slew of similar shows to start taking place and this might result in an eventual improvement in styling standards, overall. A lot more could have made this particular show work better – perhaps a more dramatic backdrop, an on-stage live styling installation or even a unique, out-of-the-box venue.

Given that Depilex wants to make this an annual event and this was just its first year, it may eventually become a lot more.

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