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3 Oct

PLBW backstage madness

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, before the models come out and are walking flawlessly on the runway at fashion week? I have. I always imagined the scene to be crazy and chaotic with everyone running around and screaming at each other. So I went backstage on the final day of PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week to investigate and to report my findings for all those people who are just as curious to know what goes on before a show.

When I entered the designated area I was quite surprised to find everyone very calm and relaxed. There was no flurry of activity, no models running around. It was surprisingly very ordinary. And a bit boring. At this point the models were nowhere to be seen, as they were probably in the back room getting dressed. Eventually I saw a few familiar faces: Kamiar Rokni, Mohsin Ali and Fahad Hussayn, who were backstage despite not being part of the show. (Kamiar had shown on the first day and the others weren’t taking part in PLBW this year.) Fahad told me he was there to help out his friend, Zara Shahjahan.

The models slowly started trickling out from the dressing room, which was guarded heavily by bearded men determined to scare you from far away. Nomi Ansari was the first to open the day so the models were decked in beautiful ensembles and it was very difficult to control myself from instagramming the glittering sleeves and the twirling lehengas before the show actually began.

Mehreen Syed was one of the first models to be ready for the ramp so I caught up with her on all the backstage madness. “By the third day, we are all in sync. The models know who is doing their make-up so they know where to go. It’s less crazy.” But under all this pressure, I’m sure the models must fight amongst themselves as well because I notice that all the experienced, established models don’t fraternize much. Sunita Marshall, Cybil Chowdhry, Amna Babar – none of these famous ladies can be seen interacting with each other. However, there is more interaction between the younger, newer models.

But Mehreen assures me that that is not because of any enmity. “The models never fight with each other. We have an understanding. Yeah, the designers probably fight it out with each other but we never do.” Apparently Mehreen was involved in a spat a day before, but it wasn’t with the models. A publication had come backstage earlier and taken some inappropriate pictures of Mehreen while she was getting ready and had put them up, but the supermodel created quite a scene and made them take those pictures down. Rightly so. After speaking to her I made an extra effort to not take any compromising pictures backstage.

backstage

Mehreen was one of the only senior models who was having a good time mingling with other models.

I didn’t even know when Zara’s collection went on stage; I was busy photographing the models and trying to speak to a voiceless Nomi who said his voice had gone because of all the shouting. He did say he enjoyed making clothes for Lahore because they love colours and so does he.

Star of the moment, Ahsan Khan was also backstage as he was the showstopper for Sonia Azhar. He didn’t have one free second to talk. When he did, his first response was “This better not be about the whole Pakistan and India drama,” before being dragged towards the ramp as his turn was coming up. Even after coming back, I’m pretty sure he took nearly 200 selfies before running away. Yes he literally ran away from the crowd.

The backstage mood started getting a little more tense as time went by and I realized that things are not as calm as one would imagine. Ali Xeeshan looked visibly stressed backstage as his collection was the grand finale. At some point, I saw Ali loudly shouting at a model, who scurried away trying to hold the turban on his head. I can’t certainly say why he was being shouted at, but the oversized turban kept slipping from his head minutes before the models were supposed to go onstage. A very calm Mohsin then appeared to help the situation and eventually a hairstylist was called to add some volume to the model’s hair.

Hasnain Lehri kept running back to a mirror to look at himself. He did this at least twice before going on stage. Rubab Ali was singing along to the songs and dancing holding Ali’s monkey, which every model carried out to the stage during his collection. Of course every other model was having a smoke to calm their nerves before going out but I saw more female models smoking compared to male models. Just an observation. Also, I never saw the models eating. Maybe they ate before they put their lipsticks on but still, for nearly four hours, the models did not consume tea or coffee or even food.

Eventually Mahira came out from the dressing room and was immediately surrounded by eight people positioned around her with two stylists fixing her hair, one Ali adding her jewellery, another two taking her pictures. To be honest, Mahira looked like she was in pain as her hair was being tugged in all directions. That made me realize how difficult this is for the models, who make it look so effortless.

 

Can't imagine how tired Amna Baber must have been at this point.

Can’t imagine how tired Amna Baber must have been at this point.

The evening ended with a sigh of relief from everyone backstage, who had been on their toes the entire night, including myself. The room looked like a bomb had exploded in terms of the trash that lay littered across the floor. But then everyone started scurrying off to go get ready for the PLBW after party, hosted by HSY. In the fashion world the running around never stops, does it?

 

 

 

 

Manal Khan

The author is Deputy Editor at Something Haute who has studied film and journalism from SZABIST. Will be found at the gym if not in the office.