Glitter was evidently the prevalent theme at Faraz Manan's solo show in Dubai this weekend. It twinkled off the sequins and Swarovski stones intricately embedded on the clothes and shimmered off the jewels worn by the audience. From a less tangible point of view, the night itself glittered — the upper echelons of Dubai gathered at the Bulgari Yacht Club, a grand mix of Arab, Indian and Pakistani socialites, to watch designer Faraz Manan bring out his couture 2022 line.
There have been times in the past when I have asked Faraz why he opts to showcase so often in Dubai rather than in his home-ground in Lahore. Attending the show, I finally understood why. This is where the heart of his design lies, fitting so well into the melting pot of cultures that defines this city. The craftsmanship on Faraz’s clothes may be innately Pakistani but the design is a blend of the East and West — gowns, capes, skirts, jackets and glorious trails.
The show did not pander to wedding bells, although the designer will surely translate the designs to bridal-wear according to the requirements of his clients. Instead, Faraz’s runway was an ode to unadulterated glamor. The ‘it’ Bollywood actress may wear these clothes on the red carpet, but they would fit right in at a ball in Paris, a party in Dubai or a wedding in Pakistan. The aesthetic was quite global but then again, it would be safe to say that Faraz Manan had spread his wings very well globally.
The designer opened his flagship store in Dubai seven odd years ago and has ever since been building his clout in the region with solo fashion shows, a cover shoot in Harper’s Bazaar Qatar last year and before that, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and an impressive lineup of Bollywood celebrities seen wearing his clothes.
This show proved to be his latest coup. The venue was very exclusive, the models were statuesque, gliding down the runway, the lighting was perfect but more than anything else, the clothes were exquisitely beautiful. A heavily worked black skirt came paired with a matching bralet — a modern take on the lehenga choli — a cape in silver, black and white, embellished with Faraz’s quintessential geometric patterns swivelled around to reveal a perfectly cut backless; floor-length svelte gowns came cut-worked at the waistline and the back; bustiers, boleros and skirts shimmered with intricate meshes of Swarovski stones, pearls and thread-work and long trails flowed down the runway.
The menswear was elegant and well-constructed, worked with subtle embroidery, eschewing OTT bling.
The fabric, particularly, caught the eye. The clothes may have had been heavily worked, but they moved seamlessly, crafted out of very luxurious fabric that could withstand the embellishment. And as the models moved, the sequins glittered. It was poetry in motion — particularly when one is generally accustomed to watching models plod down the runway, holding up farshi ghararas constructed from unwieldy fabric and smothered with embroidery. Faraz’s designs were for the modern woman who enjoys luxurious clothes but also wants to be able to move in them! No doubt, the fine fabric must come with a hefty price tag but then again, Faraz Manan has never claimed to be inexpensive.
What was new, though? The palette of black, white and pastels and the sprinkling of glitter has always been quintessential Faraz Manan. How was this collection different from his previous couture lines? Was there innovation or was he simply churning out more of the same? The difference, when viewed with a gimlet eye, lay in the details. When earlier, Faraz dabbled with volume, this time there was a balance to the design. Where there was more embellishment and bling, the silhouette would be tapered. Outfits that were less embellished stood out with their tailoring, colour and fabric. A gold silken gown, for instance, was barely embellished, with the focus being on its structure and trail. The finale bridal gown did not have a trail but was paired with a dupatta that did have one.
The collection was an extensive one, consisting of a whopping 45 different designs but it was riveting and eye-opening. When you show on a global platform, you create design and silhouette that appeals to an international clientele, beyond colour and embellishment the tailoring and finishing has to be impeccable. The models have to be seasoned professionals and the venue has to be sophisticated.
"Diamonds are forever," sang Iranian singer Layla Kardan in the opening act. Quite apt, considering how everything glittered and how couture like this, like diamonds, is meant to be for forever.