A new creative director, a new pool of professional foreign models and – hold your breath – a show format that will allow one to sit out undesirable shows…it sounds too good to be true!
Times change and systems need to change accordingly. Sensing the staleness that had started settling into the entire fashion week process, the Pakistan Fashion Design Council – that will be hosting its 10th consecutive season in Lahore this March – recently announced some structural changes to the nomenclature of how fashion week is organized. One has to say that on paper, these amendments are fresh and extremely welcome. Changes are always risky but also essential for evolution.
Firstly, a new team has been introduced to the creative development of the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week. Sadia Siddiqui and her team at Mustang Productions will be taking charge as Creative Director of the show and she will be responsible for the sights and sounds of the event, from things as simple as its look and lighting to the show flow and more. Siddiqui will be taking over from Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, who has been directing the event from its inception. While HSY has all the experience and played a monumental role in building the platform to its current stature, it has to be said that it’s never a sensible idea to involve a designer in the active planning of an event as big as the PSFW, especially when he is showing at it as well. Designers should not be invested in logistics and administration. This was a kink in PFDC’s armor –many of the council members were doubling as front stage managers, backstage managers and show directors – but it looks like that issue is about to be creased out now. It’s called growth.
The second issue that one noticed arising on the fashion week platform was the shortage of new professional models. The model turnover had become painfully slow and the recruitment of fresh, diverse faces was almost static. There were also numerous stories of unprofessionalism, tardiness and misdemeanor rising from the backstage each year. Tackling the issue, the PFDC is this year flying in foreign models to complement the selected pool of local models. While there isn’t much detail on where the models are coming in from, one hopes they are regional.
The biggest change at the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week this year will also be its biggest risk. The event format has been modified to two smaller show areas (as opposed to one main show area) and designers will be given individual slots which will all happen at half hour intervals. One show will either feature one solo designer (showcasing a 25+ piece collection) or a duo of two designers with a similar aesthetic. That is a bit confusing and only time will tell whether it works or not.
The idea of having separate shows, however, is very welcome. It will ascertain that people can earmark and sit for only those shows they wish to watch.
Will we be able to sit out shows we’re uninterested in? “Certainly,” replied Kamiar Rokni, PFDC Spokesperson. “You’ll be a free agent. You can leave after one show and decide which show to see next.” This is a delightful step, which will force designers to up their game and put out collections that innovate and thus excite.
Elaborating on the new format, Rokni did admit that there was an element of risk involved but then a risk had to be taken to amp things up.
“It’s good to constantly evolve,” he said. “Sheru (Hassan Sheheryar Yasin) is the best at what he does but he was feeling a bit stretched and there had been a desire to shake things up. Sehyr Saigol is extremely forward thinking and she’d been observing the way Sadia Siddiqui worked for some time and so decided to go with her and her team this time.”
The PFDC is looking to introduce some international slickness to fashion week, Rokni added, hoping that they could control the guest list and number of invites and make fashion week a little more exclusive, as it should be. The only issue, other than the risk factor, it appears is timing. Can the PFDC begin the day at 3pm, close to how it is done internationally, or will the event continue to be a gala event, beginning at 6pm and ending close to midnight? One has to wait and see.
This article was first published in Instep, 26th January 2017.