The fashion pendulum swung down and then, further down on the second day of this year’s Hum Showcase.

This wasn’t really a great day for fashion. From a vantage point, the designer lineup had looked promising enough, packed with the established, the up-and-coming and an intriguing first-time designer duo.

But who could have known that designers who have excited in the past will bewilder now? And how can one be prepared for a hoi polloi of pastels, nets and ill-fitted garments on the catwalk?

Thankfully, a collection – or two – here and there managed to offer some fashion relief. But there was definitely a dearth of memorable design.

Here’s the lowdown…

HSY Active

Laal Kabootar stars Ahmed Ali Akbar and Mansha Pasha were showstoppers for HSY
Laal Kabootar stars Ahmed Ali Akbar and Mansha Pasha were showstoppers for HSY

HSY spun athleisure to a very savvy tune with a range of fluid, free-flowing outfits that could be worn from day till night. This was the designer’s take on casuals, sans embroidery, indicative of how his brand is evolving.

There was a time when he had been identified solely with ornate embellishments but year after year – and more visibly at Showcase – HSY has been switching tracks, dabbling with an all-new minimalist ethos.

HSY's newfound minimalist ethos is quite refreshing
HSY's newfound minimalist ethos is quite refreshing

The hooded wraps wound about the body were instantly covetable! I am liking this new twist to HSY’s designs. Very cool.

Neelo Allahwala

Neelo Allahwala's collection failed to excite us
Neelo Allahwala's collection failed to excite us

Neelo Allahwala’s pastels floated in a cloud of net, embroidery and tassels.

It was a lineup of evening formals that had nothing new to offer in terms of craft, technique or palette.

Perhaps the designer’s clientele – she has a flagship store in Karachi’s Clifton area – enjoys her particular take on embellishment but on the catwalk, it was quite forgettable.

U&I by Umer and Imrana

This sari modelled by Fouzia Aman was a hit!
This sari modelled by Fouzia Aman was a hit!

Designer duo Umer and Imrana made a catwalk debut that holds such promise.

Quirky patterns were woven into their hand-loomed fabric in a vivid panorama of colours.

I saw tiny sailing boats, birds, little triangles, stripes and check, flitting about unconstrained casual silhouettes and layers. The cotton sari worn by Fouzia Aman was a great statement for the hot summer ahead.

Umer & Imrana brought a fresh twist to handloomed pret
Umer & Imrana brought a fresh twist to handloomed pret

Cohesive and well-conceived, it was a lineup that was indicative of a fledgling brand that is well aware of its strengths and knows how to play them to the best advantage.

Mona Imran

Mona Imran's collection was a big disappointment
Mona Imran's collection was a big disappointment

Mona Imran’s ‘Bejewelled’ came swathed in a range of jewel-coloured hues that could have looked pretty on flattering, well-fitted silhouettes.

Instead, they were fashioned into a range of pant and shirt sets, short dresses and gowns. These gowns, particularly, continue to be a bone of contention between me and so many designers. Why do they feel the need to create gowns while catering to a market that doesn’t really wear them? Moreover, why cut a gown when you don’t know how to cut it and the customer is more than happy with a kurta-shalwar or a lehnga?

Mona Imran’s play of organza, silks and chiffons and her fixation with gowns really didn’t work well on the catwalk.

Outfitters

Outfitters' collection may appeal to its young customer-base
Outfitters' collection may appeal to its young customer-base

This was a show that meant to bring out youthful, hip clothing for the high street – it did manage to do so, sometimes.

Outfitters, such a massive success in the local high street, came out with a collection that was hit and miss.

I enjoyed the kitschy new-age references and the slogans on shirts, making declarations like ‘Forever Rebel’, ‘#Feminist’ and ‘Strong is the new pretty’. The denims, army-print jumpsuit, short blingy tops and wide range of lowers are bound to be a hit with Outfitters’ young customer-base.

The occasional appearances of net were less visually appealing.

Hussain Rehar

With a focus on colour and print, Rehar sent down lots of statement wear
With a focus on colour and print, Rehar sent down lots of statement wear

Hussain Rehar’s ‘H2O’ was no lilting stream – it had more of the energy of the meandering river, refusing to chalk a straight path, sometimes cascading down steep slopes.

Colours came winding in zany prints and it was all very adventurous – eccentric pant-and-shirt sets that would be difficult to carry off except by a style icon and then, the very wearable capes and long dresses.

Organza dominated, meshed with cottons, and in sharp contrast to the designer’s previous collections, there was hardly any embroidery. The focus lay on the use of colour and print.

There was plenty of statement-wear and some designs that I just did not like – such as the same print T-shirts and pant sets.

A cool collection – but not Hussain’s finest.

Mahgul

Mahgul's collection feature some pretty ensembles
Mahgul's collection feature some pretty ensembles

I had high expectations for the finale by Mahgul.

The designer has never disappointed in past shows, creating apparel with an artisanal eye and focusing on thematically strong lineups. I wonder what went wrong this time.

There were some beautiful, wearable clothes in her collection ‘Between Ebony and Ivory’ but as a whole, the designs ran from one aesthetic to other completely disparate ones.

But the collection lacked cohesion and failed to make an impact
But the collection lacked cohesion and failed to make an impact

The prettily embroidered shirt worn with a simmered gharara by Rubya Chaudhry ran into Fouzia Aman making a statement in all-white with a voluminous dupatta splayed over a single shoulder and then, embroidered boot-leg pants and a range of tunics, kaftans, kimonos and saris, often worked with subtle, elegant embroideries.

I missed the artistic detailing that has always been associated with Mahgul. Also, with no single theme in play, the clothes lost impact.

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