The third and final day of the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week (PSFW) 2018 will be memorable for many reasons.
The foremost among these will be the energetic, groovy finale by HSY. It was Shero in his very element, putting up a show that told a story and entertained. It was a throwback to the days when the Pakistan Fashion Design Council’s (PFDC) fashion weeks were set aside for Shero and he made sure that things wrapped up with a bang.
The day will also be memorable for delivering a consistent slew of very good collections, starting off with Fahad Hussayn and then moving on to Mona Imran, Zonia Anwaar, Republic by Omar Farooq and finally, HSY.
It will not be memorable, however, for the voile shows that preceded the luxury wear segment. One supposes that participating fees paid by voile shows provide the funds that help further the business of fashion but they are also a perpetual blot on the image of a fashion savvy event.
What is the point of moulding fabric, very evidently visualised for a shalwar-kameez-dupatta combo, into strange anglicised constructions? What is this obsession with skirts, trailing gowns and overdesigned tassel-strewn saris? How do the brands benefit from showing such unfathomable designs on the catwalk when all their clients want to wear is an appliquéd, floral-infested three-piece?
If it is truly necessary for voile shows to continue at fashion weeks, perhaps their design format could be changed to feature variations of three-pieces? The shows could be like the ubiquitous lawn parties that are all the rage right now where women turn up in different stitched styles of the lawn. The lawn parties act like catalogues, presenting different trendy options for a three-piece and there’s no reason why the catwalk can’t serve to do the same. It would at least make better marketing sense although, of course, the three-piece lawn jigsaw puzzle is hardly the stuff of catwalks – but neither were the dresses that were part of the voile shows.
A mundane ennui was set in motion by the voile shows although Nabila’s stylists backstage valiantly tried to pep things up through some funky eye make-up. There was glitter on the eyes and on the eyebrows and the eyeliner was applied at interesting geometric angles. It was all very edgy and while even the makeup couldn’t save the voile shows, it worked very well with the luxury wear segment that followed later.
Put Fahad Hussayn in a room with swathes of cloth and he’ll drape them and tease them into apparel.
It’s a talent that has always been distinctively his and the very well-draped dresses in his collection this year did catch the eye. His hand-crafted embroideries also follow some very particular patterns, worked with feathers, beads and myriad intricate stitches but the designs he put forward this time were very reminiscent of previous collections.
Bunched together – the bright, sultry draped dresses and the embroidered gowns and shirts – the collection lacked cohesion because it yo-yoed back and forth between two completely contrasting aesthetics. Also, at a prêt-based spring/summer fashion week, the embroidered apparel was quite ostensibly wedding wear. The drapes, however, were pure pret and will probably turn up for retail in the limited lawn collection that Fahad takes out every year.
With a bit of this and a bit of that, it all looked rushed. One has seen Fahad showcase much better collections.
The very first model, Zara Abid, held a flag declaring ‘I love Picasso’.
The collection truly did so, taking inspiration from some of Picasso’s most famous works placed on to multi-tiered sleeves, hem lines and pants. An all-white palette formed the canvas to a rainbow of bright colors and it was interesting how Mona Imran had worked on the entire look for the show, devising the clothes as well as quirky geometric earrings and handbags.
It wasn’t exactly your most avant-garde collection but it was a creative one indicating how Mona Imran has grown from a fledgling brand, trying to establish itself to a more assured, ambitious one.
Zonia Anwaar made bright, saucy statements with Ikat-inspired prints and a color wheel that spun out a range of riveting autumnal hues.
The silhouettes stayed a tad too safe but on the upside, it was all instantly wearable. One hopes that Zonia manages to trickle it down to retail.
She has long been one of fashion’s brighter young sparks but she needs to work out retail plans in order to build a strong market for herself.
Omar Farooq’s Republic was like a breath of fresh air in a menswear market that is drowned in kurtas and sherwanis.
Men can make creative, cool statements but most local menswear designers, happy in their neon coloured Eastern-wear zone, refuse to acknowledge this. Or perhaps they just don’t have the uber cool understanding for menswear that Omar Farooq does. Even the models looked happy walking out for Omar’s show – if it is painful to repetitively see sherwanis on the catwalk, imagine what an ordeal it must be to constantly wear them!
The inspiration for the collection came from Japan. One remembers Omar’s ode to Tokyo’s night life at last year’s PSFW. This time he zoned in on Japan’s infamous manga comic book art. Emblazoned here and there were black and white manga sketches, rolled out on clothes that teetered towards athleisure with slouchy casual jackets, hoodies, sweat shirts and track pants. It all had a baggy ‘90’s vibe to it, very much in line with international fashion trends.
This one absolutely must be brought down to affordable retail. The line-up has all the makings of a hot-seller and besides, men should have the choice to look cool too. And based on the buzz in the front row, even some of the women will be lining up to buy!
Speaking of cool, it’s simply what HSY will always be.
His collection, ‘Knight’, was dedicated to women’s empowerment, advocating that all women should ‘Be their own knights’ and that they don’t need validation from men. Being Shero, he built hype for the finale all through fashion week by floating out videos of different career women giving him online shout-outs. And he wrapped up the show by taking a bow with friend, model and his eternal showstopper Mehreen Syed and his mother, who he says is ‘his knight’.
It was quintessentially HSY – where the clothes were merely part of an overall production. The catwalk thumped to hits from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s and the model pool was extended to some of fashion’s most renowned models, expressly enlisted to be part of the finale. Cybil Chowdhry, Rachel and male model Abdullah made a welcome appearance. There was a time when he had been featured in every menswear shoot in the country before he stepped away from the profession.
The men wore the classic suits that HSY cuts so well while the female models wore fierce capes and coats in beige and black. There was a lot of black on black sequinwork, fur trimmings, cutwork and silver beads, giving the impression of ‘armors’. Cybil Chowdhry’s jacket, twinkling with silver embellishments, was an absolute statement.
Having said this, most of the designs were far too reminiscent of the designer’s past collections. Mehreen Syed, as showstopper, wore red because, as all fashion aficionados know, an HSY show always has a red number for the final act!
It was a great show that could have been even better had Shero improvised, perhaps, with the silhouette, the palette or the embellishments. Nevertheless, he showed the local fashion week diaspora precisely what a finale should be all about. There were no props in the HSY show, no over the top drama. Just good energy, great music and a passion for showmanship – and he had the crowd cheering.
All photographs by Faisal Farooqui and his team at Dragonfly