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Review: House of Kamiar Rokni makes a successful comeback at PLBW18

Nida Azwer and Misha Lakhani presented strong collections on Day 2 of PLBW
Updated Sep 06, 2018 04:04pm


Finally, designer bridal wear that set some new trends into motion!

The second day of this year’s PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week (PLBW) rustled out some stellar collections, managing to achieve what is often impossible for a platform dedicated to the blingy ways of bridal fashion: introduce trends and new ideas to a fusty, glitter-obsessed customer-base.

Some of fashion’s most creative took to the catwalk and it's interesting to note that the truly good designers have definitive signatures of their own. They refrain from showcasing same-looking, forgettable clothes and stick to their own distinctive ethos rather than latch on to whatever is in vogue.

The early evening segment – featuring Lajwanti, Rici Melion, FAS and Ahmad Bilal – was followed by a night that rode high on the innovative talents of Nida Azwer, Misha Lakhani and the House of Kamiar Rokni.

And one would have coined it as a fabulous day for fashion had it not been for the abysmal timings. The shows started late and therefore, ended late, close to 11pm. Were the delays a result of more solo shows being adjusted into the schedule this time around? Solo shows tend to feature more clothes and consequently, preparations often take longer.

If this is the case then perhaps it’s now time for fashion councils to rethink timings. With more and more designers showing a penchant for individual showcases, maybe we can finally try to go the ‘international way’ and start off fashion weeks in the afternoon or, at least, the early evening?

In a nation where people like to dress up at night and go fashion week-ing, the concept may take some time to set in but it makes sense if the focus truly is on business. An event that ends beyond midnight simply isn’t business-like.

Having said this, PLBW did well by slotting the House of Kamiar Rokni for the finale for just as energies had begun to run low, Kami stepped in and worked his magic. There’s more on that later. Here’s the lowdown…

Nida Azwer

With every successive collection, Nida Azwer is proving her prowess with traditional wedding-wear.

Her understanding of colour, craft and Eastern silhouettes is undeniable and she applied it well in her ‘Rani Bagh’. Like a romantic ballad, the collection veered from major key to minor key, blazing down the runway or lilting gently, but riveting at all times.

There were lehngas worked with concentric gota, mirror-work and kamdani glittered on shirts and fine thread embroideries etched out Mughal-inspired stories on saris. Marori ran into zardozi, wasli and a myriad other stitches … this was obviously Nida in her element and she needs to keep building upon this signature.

One could almost sense the wedding-wear clients filing in!

Misha Lakhani

Following Nida’s bridal regalia was, in complete contrast, Misha Lakhani’s minimal, classy spin on formals.

It is impressive how Misha continues to design to her own tune, refusing to smother fabric with embroideries, allowing space for colour and shape to breathe, designing for the discerning savants that form her niche clientele.

There was an old-world glamour to her crushed lehngas and saris and dupattas criss-crossed with gota. Culottes and cut-worked cigarette pants rose high above the ankles, organza dupattas were lightly draped over the shoulder and drop-shoulder, fluid shirts were worked with well-placed hand embroideries.

Were the clothes reminiscent of the designer’s past collections? Yes, quite often, but this easy elegance has now come to be recognized as part of Misha’s signature. It is an aesthetic that she has a flair for and on a catwalk that is often convoluted, even claustrophobic, it comes like a breath of fresh air.

Zainab Salman

Zainab Salman’s debut bridal line is going to appeal to the conventional wedding-wear clientele for it came embroidered with florals and architectural inspirations on a pleasing predominantly pastel color palette. The focus was almost completely on the embellishment that was worked on to saris, lehngas, trails, dupattas, et al.

It was pretty but commercially friendly and yet, ensuring that the collection went viral on social media were actress Iqra Aziz and singer Ali Noor who took to the runway as celebrity showstoppers.

It was an intelligent move by Zainab for, as a new designer, she needs to make the effort to make people sit up and take notice of her work. However, the work itself needs to be more noticeable.

Jeem by Hamza Bokhari

Jeem’s ‘Mizaaj’ was far too conventional to make much of an impression. The silhouettes and palette had nothing new to offer and attention had very visibly not been given to fittings.

One model, struggling with her lehnga, simply had to lift it up in order to walk. Clothes also struggled with overdesign, with appliquéd print running into embellishment, creating a veritable hotchpotch.

One understands that Jeem by Hamza Bokhari is a relatively young brand but with a retail presence in Lahore and having showcased at fashion weeks before, it’s high time that the designer starts placing more focus on finesse.

Farah & Fatima

‘Dastaan’ by Farah & Fatima had some beautiful moments: a sari worked with kamdani with puffed translucent sleeves, pretty angarkhas and capes and an all red outfit worked with gold that a bride would immediately want to add to her trousseau – unless her sister grabs it for herself!

As is the case in all commercially viable wedding-wear collections, the clothes gave off a sense of déjà vu, as if they had been seen somewhere before, albeit the designers did make the effort to add some tweaks here and there.

Should the brand place more emphasis on craft and work towards developing its own ethos, Farah & Fatima have the potential to go further.

The House of Kamiar Rokni

And then came bridal fashion’s blue-eyed boy, returning to the arena after two years and showing ‘em how it’s done. There was a buzz in the air even at the late hour at which the show started; the designer’s friends and hardcore enthusiasts of his designs had all turned up, mobile phones aimed towards the runway, ready to capture the show.

Much more than a designer, Kamiar Rokni is an artist, an ingenious craftsman who knows how to blend colour with craft and technique. ‘Moonrise’ was, quite literally, his own ‘rise’ back to the business of bridal fashion with couture that spun dreams and sang songs. What was there not to love?

The exaggerated ruffles on the sleeves of a red dress, the embroideries entwining down a single side of an all-black suit, the off-shoulder glitzy blue number worn by Sabeeka Imam, the chata-pati linings, the multicoloured embroideries on a turquoise palette glinting underneath a translucent golden coat, the eclectic mix of colour, the innovations in silhouette.

From absolute classics to the avant-garde, these were heirloom pieces to be kept for life – Kami has a special penchant for creating those. The catch here is that he tends to create them too infrequently. With every time it dabbles on to the runway, the House of Kamiar Rokni proves itself to be one of the finest ateliers in the country and yet Kami just doesn’t show often enough to be able to haul in more accolades and set new precedents.

This wizardry and this remarkable take on couture needs to be showcased more often … for the love of building the House of Kamiar Rokni further, for the love of setting an example for younger designers, for the love of fashion.