Strong fashion is fashion that has some semblance of design, a distinctive signature and style that can stand out and dictate trends every new season, season after season. By that definition Day One of the three-day Fashion Pakistan Week that began in Karachi on Sunday night, was powered by Amir Adnan, Maheen Karim and HSY. All three collections had a common denominator: the colour black.
Amir Adnan showcased what he does best: suave menswear that relies on very little drama or theatrics for its strength. The Way Forward was a sharp collective of looks that offered a predominantly black and white palette with leather jackets as winter essentials. Feroze Khan, undoubtedly one of Pakistani cinema’s new rising stars, opened the show.
Maheen Karim is a designer who stays refreshingly committed to her niche and it’s because of her clear vision for her brand that she does it so well. Her collection, Tales of Vienna Woods, was the smartest of the day. Built upon a solid black, gold and nude canvas, it was unapologetically focused on the upcoming party season and offered a variety of dazzling looks for society’s glamazons.
Closing the day was HSY, who’s been extremely busy this season. Between designing collections and directing shows at fashion weeks across the country, he also stepped onto the recently held Hum Awards stage as performer. Nothing seems to slow him down because he was on the top of his game at FPW, closing the day with Onyx and his gem of a showstopper, Bilal Ashraf.
Mona Imran, Sobia Nazir, Suffuse by Sana Yasir and Jeem by Hamza Bukhari: I’ve lumped these names together because devoid of any distinct, stand out signature, these could have been one and the same brand. Or none at all, because shaadi clothing of the caliber shown by these designers is just as easily available in commercial markets in Karachi, Lahore and Pindi. Jeem and Suffuse were slighter better in their aesthetic sensibility but all these collections will, more or less, be remembered for their choice of showstoppers as there wasn’t much in terms of innovation. The only stand-out collection was by Sobia Nazir, and that too for its mistreatment of fur, fringe and tassel. It’s amazing how someone who has been in the industry for as long as she has can go so terribly wrong. It’s just as amazing how the fashion council could allow that tight-crotch gharara on the runway.
The biggest horror of the day, however, was the Kosem Sultan showcase put out by the sponsor. This is precisely what happens when a TV channel tries to take over fashion; or when a fashion council is so indebted to the support a sponsor brings in that it throws all discretion to the wind. One can blame Urdu One for imposing content that belonged strictly on television and not fashion week and then the Fashion Pakistan Council for allowing such a practice.
Why two acclaimed and award winning designers would agree to it is also mind-boggling. Amir Adnan and Shamaeel, both brilliant in their own right, were asked to create capsules inspired by the upcoming serial and of course, there was nothing wrong with the clothes; it was the idea of running an advertisement for a drama serial that was so wrong. With trailers of Actor in Law and Ek Thi Mariam running on repeat, fashion week – for a while – felt like the Neuplex Hall 2. We all love our films and television and Kosem Sultan will surely go down well with the masses when it airs but this showcase belonged at a television premiere event and certainly not at fashion week.
At the end of day one it was evident that Fashion Pakistan Week is struggling but the design community is as much to blame as anyone else. Where in the world do established designers sit out fashion weeks? One can make a case for designers like Sania Maskatiya and Nomi Ansari, who opted to show in Lahore, but what about the rest? Sana Safinaz, Sonya Battla, Body Focus Museum, Feeha Jamshed, Misha Lakhani, Sadaf Malaterre and of course, Sanam Chaudhri and Wardha Saleem, amongst others. The mind and its memory throws back upon so many great moments, from Sonya Battla’s Ode to Karachi, Wardha Saleem’s Doodle Junction and Sanam Chaudhri’s Shibori. Of course this season of fashion week will make some new memories; we just hope they’ve not outnumbered by collections we’d rather forget.
This article was first published in Instep on November 1st, 2016.