“It’s been 24 years [to my brand],” Deepak Perwani had told me a few months ago, “and I’d like to celebrate this.”
He just did so with a solo show wrapping up the ‘Winter Festive’ edition of Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW), at a private venue following the two-day schedule of group shows.
A broad white catwalk with pillars in the backdrop was laid out, shining underneath crystal chandeliers, flanked by white benches that bore the names of Karachi’s most famous, most fashionable. There were tasteful lights and florals strewn about, not overwhelmingly so but just enough to exude classy minimalism. Those are words that I have often used to describe Deepak Perwani’s work when it is at its best.
This was his way of celebrating and to me, it almost seemed as if he had been in a celebratory mood all through FPW. Deepak has long been shouldering the Sisyphean task of helming Karachi’s bi-annual fashion week omnibus and come fashion week, I have always seen him rushing about, exhausted to the core, an enduring frown creasing his forehead, ironing out the nitty-gritties. Quite often, he’s been known to succumb to a temper tantrum himself – what’s a fashion week without a few backstage skirmishes, eh?
And yet, this time, Deepak seemed calmer, less preoccupied, quite the Chairperson of the Fashion Pakistan Council (FPC) overlooking the two-day group shows before staging a solo production of his own. After all, if he’s having a celebration, he might as well enjoy it.
‘Madhaniya’ pirouetted to a start with a shadow dance before rolling out an extensive wedding procession. The memo said that the collection would traverse the many stages of a wedding and I knew what to expect: sherwanis and suits for men and for women, the colour riot of Mehndi-wear, the cardinal reds for the Baraat and golds and pastels that dominate the Valima ceremony.
It all lilted prettily, with doses of star power thrown in: Sarwat Gilani, Mehwish Hayat and Adnan Siddiqui walked out as showstoppers and a special mention goes to the adorable little boy who grumpily preceded Mehwish, throwing the ceremonial rose petals in the bride’s wake. His reluctant walk down the runway ended up trending on social media – this little one obviously wasn’t a fashion aficionado!
Embellishments are imperative to the subcontinental wedding look but here, there was a coherence to the embroideries, never suffocating the fabric, allowing it to breathe and the colours to seep in. Techniques varied, from hand and machine embroideries to sequins, crystals, screen prints, block prints and digital prints. The palette was feminine and sweet: tangerine, olive green, fuschia, peach, vermilion progressing to 50 shades of red and gold for the heavier wedding outfits.
The incorporation of printing techniques, which were particularly noticeable in the colourful Mehndi regalia, means that the clothes will be more economical. This is a welcome change. In an age where fashion – even wedding-wear - is increasingly disposable, more designers need to develop parallel lines that are affordable. Deepak may helm a renowned brand but he’s always been known for offering value for money.
Traditional silhouettes were the order of the day: sleek midriff-baring ghagra cholis, long tapered shirts, heavier lehngas paired with a less intricate net dupatta. The men walked out in sherwanis, suits and waistcoats paired with kurtas and pyjamas but to be honest, this was more of a bridal-wear show than one for men.
And moving beyond that oft-used, all-evasive adjective ‘pretty’, what truly caught the eye? I enjoyed the surge of colour and particularly the more contemporary, impeccably finished designs towards the beginning of the show in metallic gold and silver: the elegant kaftan, the short embroidered shirt coupled with wispy silk culottes and the layered skirts and pants. Deepak proved again that he's a pro at cutting contemporary silhouettes.
Unfortunately, there was very little of the contemporary in this show and few, if any, tweaks to traditional silhouettes. There could have been newer silhouettes, dramatic colours or a swirl of new patterns that could have been so dramatic but I got the feeling that Deepak truly wanted to pay ode to the classically pretty. It was all delivered well enough but there could have been more, so much more, on that runway.
It wasn’t an impactful lineup. Instead, it was a prodigious 50-piece lineup that fell in languid waves, soothing and well-honed. A tidal wave or two in these blissful waters could have really shaken things up. And over a career that spans more than two decades, we all know that Deepak is well capable of making waves.