There have always been moments at fashion weeks where you fall in love with a collection.
The design rivets you and you can’t stop taking pictures with your cellphone and uploading them on social media, waxing lyrical about it to the world at large. There have also been moments when you are transfixed by what you see on the catwalk, wondering if it’s just a joke before realising that someone, somewhere, has a very warped take on design and the council has apparently decided to forego editing. And then there are those moments when you just sit back and relax, lulled by a mundane slew of clothes that sift by you before the show ends.
The second day of the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week (PSFW) was all about moments like these – the good, the bad and the very ugly, packed in on a day that moved from the high street to luxury wear.
But first, a word about the red carpet. Celebrities are now hardly seen on the red carpet which is why cameras went into a frenzy when actor Azfar Rehman and the very good looking cast of the upcoming film Cake made appearances. Azfar was there as celebrity showstopper for high-street menswear brand Ricci Melion while Aamina Sheikh, Sanam Saeed and Adnan Malik walked the runway for designer Nida Azwer.
The rest of the red strip was dominated, as always, by designers and the media and we wonder when we’ll begin seeing more personal style statements. The borrowed gowns that are usually preferred by most of fashion’s ‘it’ set look great but we’ve usually seen them just a day before on the catwalk.
But if you’re critiquing a collection, how can you also wear it at the same event? That’s a point to ponder over. Also, more quirky accessories, mixing and matching and eccentric personal styles would certainly make things more fun.
Speaking of fun, there was this one collection that seemed to be having a bit too much of it, forgetting to present actual fashion altogether. Here’s the lowdown...
High street shows don’t have to delve into avant-garde territory. In fact, in the past, the shows that were particularly cutting edge never really managed to translate their elaborate designs to retail. It makes more sense for high street brands to show well-finished designs and tread a middle ground where they improvise with design while simultaneously making sure that some semblance of them is easily translatable to retail.
Image Fabrics, in their catwalk debut, fairly waltzed through this middle ground. Chikans are an eternal summer staple and have always been the brand’s forte. In wispy chiffons and sensible cottons, the brand tweaked the fabric into different silhouettes. The saris were particularly eye-catching, with long trails and pleats bordering their length. Also spotlighted was the brand’s penchant for diverse lowers. Image has, of late, been playing quite a bit with lowers and the shalwars, simmered gharara pants, boot-cut pants and lacy little numbers. Barring one or two designs that warranted better fittings, it was classic summer wear.
Saira Rizwan delved into beautiful ethnic touches, working with indigenous cottons, tie-dyes and embroideries. It was traditional wear mixed with slight, modern touches and the elaborate dhoti shalwars and dupattas pleated into sari-like folds were absolute statements. The designer also presented the dupatta belted at the waist look, which is one that looks great on models but never in real life. So even while we appreciated the bright red dupatta swaying quite elegantly over a black and white tie-n-dyed shirt, ladies, please don’t try this at home!
And then there was menswear brand Rici Melion that chose to make some dubious statements in its catwalk debut. A few basic suits were rolled out before the show moved on to gaudy brocade jackets and wide cummerbunds, a clown, a royal price with a stuffed tiger on his back, a jester, a man with grass growing out of him and another, with flowers extending from his forehead. The models danced and grooved and were hilarious. But it was all so eccentric that the cuts and innovations completely didn’t seep in. One doesn’t understand why the brand chose to make a debut in such a way. Is all publicity good publicity and therefore, Rici is just happy about all the people currently laughing at the collection on social media?
A bad first impression of the brand – and also, Pakistan Fashion Design Council, why didn’t you edit (and delete) this one out?
Moving on, the luxury wear section featured designers Shiza Hassan, Shirin Hassan, Saira Shakira and a whopping 33 piece collection by Nida Azwer...
Nida Azwer has paid homage to her love for the Mughals many times and she did so again. She did it beautifully, so that there was no sense of repetition or ennui. Mughal inspirations can, in fact, be veritably considered Nida’s signature. The designer has a penchant for creating royal scenes on her shawls, dabbling towards leafy trees, plump tulips, galloping horses and the turbaned Mughal monarch, gazing regally from a cape or down the length of a dupatta. Her palette was characteristically subtle and she stayed true to a range of indigenous techniques that are, also, identifiable with her ethos: minute stitches, tukri, pleating and a mix of different textures.
In most cases, the collection was more wedding wear than luxury wear. There were no heavy duty bridal joras but there were certainly some clothes that one would happily wear to a wedding. Not really the stuff of a prêt based fashion week but perhaps, it can be viewed better in the form of separates. There were flouncy multi-tiered skirts, leather cutworked gharara pants, saris, capes, long kalidaar shirts and handworked shawls and dupattas. It was princess-y with contemporary twists here and there and despite certain visibly Indian inspirations, we can tell that it’s going to be selling well.
It was also good that Nida stuck to Eastern silhouettes which have always been her forte. It’s something that other designers need to take note of, primarily the ones who like to put out dresses on the catwalk simply because they think that Western silhouettes and skin show define fashion. Don’t cut a gown unless you know how to – and most of them truly don’t know how to.
Also, a shout out here to Esfir Jewels who put out some lovely gold-plated jhumkas and dangling statement earrings that went very well with the clothes.
Shiza Hassan’s ‘Untamed Azalea’ had its pretty moments and made an effort to bring out structured boxy cuts. There were some elements that could work but the designer needs to work on better finishing. Also, pastel palettes immediately bring on a sense of déjà vu simply because they have been done to death by multiple ateliers. When a designer puts out a collection on the runway, it needs to move beyond being aesthetically pleasing and say something more. That ‘something’ was unfortunately missing.
And then came yet another designer who needs to work on stitching and finishing. Shirin Hassan’s ‘The Colour Block’ had nothing new in terms of silhouette or embellishment. This was not fashion week material.
Saira Shakira’s ‘Canvas’ had a frivolous vibe to it with neon splatters of paint and abstract art shaken out on to a pristine white palette. The geometric asymmetrically structured shirts and culottes were fun, often fastened around the waist with thick black sashes. Having said this, the fitting could have been better – especially in the case of a long dress worn by Hira Shah which was far too long. She valiantly crawled her way halfway down the ramp before crawling back. Next time around, she just simply lifted the dress up and strode onwards.
But other than this glitch, the one factor that didn’t work in Saira Shakira’s favour was that Sania Maskatiya had also created paint-splattered neon-colored prints with her ‘Print Attack’ back in 2015. Saira Shakira’s designs were different from what Sania’s had been but the collection lost its novelty value because of the similarity in inspiration.