The second day of the PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week (PLBW) was dedicated to some exceptional collections – exceptionally good ones and exceptionally bad ones.
The designer lineup boasted some of fashion’s most inventive, most established ateliers and they took over the catwalk with gusto, laying out a riveting display of craft and design.
At the other end of the spectrum, the day started off with a mix of fledgling brands and at best, one could describe their showcases as mundane and at worst, garish. Quite ostensibly, these early evening shows exemplified that designers have now truly discovered tulle and trails.
And now that this discovery has been made, they will never ever let go of it. It’s painful to watch one collection after another after another featuring tulle, cancans and long trails, usually untidy ones.
I can only imagine how draining it must be for the models who, after all, have the thankless job of wearing the clothes.
Will we be seeing more tulle and trails in fashion shows for the next year or so? It’s likely. What a debilitating notion.
There were other faux pas that cannot be overlooked: sheer linings that revealed far too much, untidy patterns and finishings and menswear, shoved down ugly pathways: chinos and a collared shirt paired with a sherwani, a completely sheer shirt with embroidery at the back and jackets with bright red on red embroidery.
Also, it was very obvious that many of the heaviest outfits had not been stitched according to the models’ sizes. Many of them fairly stomped on to the catwalk, holding their lehngas by several inches so that they could walk. It all looked quite slapshod and certainly not befitting a high-end fashion week.
In fact, even the celebrity showstoppers held up their lehngas as they went down the runway. What is the point of investing into placing celebrities on to the catwalk if you’re not going to make sure that they look good in the clothes?
Were fittings not done properly? If not, then why did the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) not intervene and make sure that this very basic mistake was not made? Which brings me to the query: why were these labels allowed on to the catwalk at all?
The shows may have been in the less popular early evening slot but they were still on the PFDC’s runway and the pictures are floating all over social media. Why did the council not edit out the truly bad clothes?
And if there is a dearth of good collections then perhaps the early slots should be eliminated altogether. Mediocrity in the lineup only ends up undermining the overall impact of a fashion week.
Now that I am done ranting, let’s turn towards the brighter side to the second day of PLBW. It was a very bright side indeed, an amalgamation of diverse silhouettes and craft that was so distinctive that you wanted to peer forward and examine it in detail…
‘Golestan’, Kamiar Rokni’s ode to his Persian heritage, was also a homage to his artistry. Deftly, expertly, he mixed and matched colours and splayed them out on to the catwalk, merging them with gota, mirror-work and delicate florals crafted by hand.
This was an all-out bridal wear line, offering options for the wedding day as well as trousseau, but there was nothing that was ordinary about the silhouettes.
Then again, there is never anything ordinary about Kamiar Rokni’s designs. The cardinal bridal comes in a new blend of the age-old hue, the florals are wielded in distinctively different patterns, the meticulously crafted gota and mirrors move in ebullient zigzags and swirls and there is a delicious blend of diverse luxurious textures.
With unique details added in, every outfit stood out on the catwalk – I can only imagine how riveting it must be when seen up-close.
This was also a very retail friendly collection offering wearable silhouettes. But under Kamiar Rokni’s magic wand, even retail’s usually generic waters begin making waves.
Speaking of magic, Misha Lakhani also knows how to wield it well. Hers is a more subtle spell, relying on an intrinsic glamour and a very strong design identity.
At Misha’s, the clothes will always ooze style and even the heaviest outfit won’t look like it’s being suffocated by embroideries. Instead, it will make a statement with finely cut silhouettes and well-placed embellishments.
A bona fide designer never needs to hide behind embroidery in order to prove his or her mettle. This observation rings true particularly at bridal-centric fashion weeks where far too many try to pass off masses of embroidery as fashion.
Quintessentially, the designer dealt out understated elegance. There were the crushed lehngas and laidback off shoulder tunics that are her trademark, statement saris, jackets and velvet shawls and they all came worked with gota and distinctive mirror-work, weaving its way amidst thread embroideries.
So, so classy. Misha always is.
With successive showcases at major fashion weeks and a very finely tuned eye for design, Sania Maskatiya has fast become one of the strongest contenders in Pakistan’s market for bridal-wear.
With ‘Dilara’ at PLBW, the design house flexed its muscles, putting forward a collection that offered throwbacks to some of her finest work, reinventing it along the way.
Glinting gold lame came worked with delicate florals, dupattas were lined with scallops, gota and neat hand embroideries, there were trails embellished with delicate cutwork and embellished statement shawls.
My particular favorite was a lehnga with a white base with multicoloured geometrical embroidery and florals worked down its length, paired with a risqué choli and a lightly embroidered dupatta.
The clothes were beautiful, created with great finesse, but this was a collection that exuded the best of Sania Maskatiya rather than highlighting new directions being taken by her brand. Her best is going to sell very well.
Also, a special shout-out goes to the very well-cut menswear. With subtle embroideries worked on restrained palettes, they were refreshing in a market plagued by gaudy, untidy options.
It is interesting that most menswear labels in Pakistan seem to have lost the plot while the ateliers catering to womenswear are standing out for the limited capsules they create for men, usually in coordination with their clothes for brides.
That’s good news for men in the search for decent clothing. But quite a sorry state of affairs as far as the overall market for menswear is concerned.
Sonia Azhar’s biggest error was that she treaded down a mostly pastel-coloured pastel route. At the cost of sounding repetitive, it is a hackneyed path. The tea pink meets grey meets dull gold colour scheme has been seen so often that it can no longer stand out.
The show also seemed to be an inspirational ode of sorts to all that has been trending for a while now. The ruffled dupattas? Check. The cancanned skirt? Check. The long column shirt? Check.
Had Sonia chosen a different palette and made less of a chutney with varied silhouettes, some of the finer elements in her designs could have been more noticeable.
I noticed an embellished back, meshed with gota, pearls, dabka and very unique, pointed beads. The effect was diminished simply because the base was a been there-seen that light beige.
Maybe next time Sonia Azhar who, by the way, is a regular at fashion week, can choose better colours? Cut neater silhouettes?
And then, Mahgul’s ‘Tales of Bijin’ swooped in for the finale, telling stories that drew you in and that made you feel that, truly, wedding-wear could be all things wonderful.
You could almost hear joyful wedding songs playing in your head. Pastel colours? They could be great! Swathes of embroidery and bling? They could be great! That is, as long as you have a designer on board who can transform them into something great.
This was Mahgul in her element; the way she used to be when she first ventured into the spotlight, turning an artistic eye towards design and whisking new interpretations from the usual ingredients.
Her medley of colours was so well thought-out: emerald greens, bright oranges, dusky blues, crimson and white worked with silver and gold.
Also catching the eye were the embellishments: gota twisted and turned into florals on a pair of culottes; a bird, caught in flight, on the back of a shirt; a neckline accentuated by rivulets of mirror and threadwork; a thick silver border shimmering on a dupatta that spread across a single shoulder and was cinched at the other end.
It’s good to have Mahgul back in full form. I hope that now that she’s found her groove again, she stays that way. In a realm burdened by far too much tulle and bling, Mahgul knocked wedding-wear right off the park, making it something fabulous, something new.