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30 Sep

What washed out fashion week

Instep Sept 26, 2010

The bright lights and vivid colours of fashion weeks have worn out and washed out, leaving behind a very tired, dull and lacklustre fashion industry. From April (when FPW2 concluded fashion week season) to date, there has hardly been any inspiring activity and it’s just not the socio-political dynamics of the country that has caused this dreariness. Designers, it appears, are burnt out/out of steam after participating in fashion weeks galore and the only road to recovery for them seems to be foreign trips. For shows, exhibitions or inspirations, who knows how the wheels of creative minds work?

What we do know is that they’re certainly not working on new collections as the PFDC & Sunsilk Fashion Week, scheduled for October 4 -11 in Karachi, has been postponed. Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, while responding to a query as to whether he would be showing replied, “Yes (I will). But fashion week has been delayed.” Coming from the spokesperson of the Pakistan Fashion and Design Council that’s as official as it gets though no one has deemed it important enough to announce officially.

I got this confirmation on Sunday night when I started sending out messages to designers who were expected to show. Unlike anywhere else in the world, where show schedules go up on a website weeks (if not months) prior to fashion week, here in Pakistan things remain vague till the very last minute. Amidst the blur of who would be showing was the dichotomy of whether there would even be a fashion week to begin with! HSY’s update (confirming suspicions that there wouldn’t in October) came weeks after a press release issued by the council’s PR agency Lotus confirmed the dates as per schedule.

“The fashion week committee is determined to ensure that businesses continue to function as well as possible in order to continue to provide livelihoods and economic stimulus,” it read. “Furthermore, PFDC and Sunsilk also announce ticketed finale shows at their second Fashion Week, where all proceeds will be donated for the rehabilitation of flood victims through a diversity of charities and organizations. PFDC and Sunsilk Fashion Week will be held in the country’s oft regarded cosmopolitan capital, Karachi from October 11 – October 14 2010.” This was announced on August 20.

Though no official statement explaining the delay has been made yet (the ‘national instability’ scapegoat is as reliable and expected as ever) one can make an educated guess as to what has happened.

First, Karachi’s worsening situation could have directed the council to call the show back to Lahore. Secondly, with the opposing fashion council’s (Fashion Pakistan) newly elected board in office, the PFDC could be thinking of building healthy alliances and getting Karachi’s fashionable bigwigs to participate. And finally, while the PFDC was brave enough to wade through floods for fashion week, it couldn’t convince 32 designers to follow suit. The bottom line is that designers were still not ready with their Spring/Summer 2011 collections. Needless to say these issues would ease out, say, with a simple one-month delay.

Estimating the delay, I sent out a query Sunday night. HSY, who presented the grand finale in February said that he would be showing but he was currently in Dubai for another show. Sara Shahid, Sadaf Malaterre and Rehana Saigol confirmed they would be showing, but I’m assuming that came with the reassurance that fashion week wouldn’t be taking place before November.

Shamoon Sultan of Khaadi, who presented a well-received collection in February, confirmed that he wouldn’t be showing in the next PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week as he was “out of Pakistan right now.” Shamoon is currently in the process of opening Khaadi stores in the Middle East and aims for six by the end of next year. Nomi Ansari, in USA for a fundraiser these days, didn’t send in a response but he had spoken against showing at another fashion week this year before leaving. One of the few designers who had showed in Karachi and Lahore, he said he needed time to recuperate.

Maheen Kardar, one of the biggest fashion forces in Lahore, said “we’re skipping this season because we are focusing on Princess (the new line), having to expand infrastructure and set up a separate factory for it as well as open stores for it by December 2010 in Karachi and Isloo.”

Design whizz-kids Rizwanullah and Feeha Jamshed declined participation. Nida Azwer said she wouldn’t be able to show if fashion week was to proceed (according to schedule) on October 11. And Iman Ahmad (Body Focus) who was the PFDC’s big coup from Karachi last season was unavailable for comment.

“We are indeed participating in the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week however the fashion week itself is most likely the same dates but in November,” replied Kamiar Rokni, confirming the delay even further.

So all those waiting for a serious albeit glamorous fashion trade event hosted by the PFDC in Karachi will have to hold their breath for at least another month. If fashion week is to happen, then I’m assuming it’ll have to be squeezed in the twenty days after Eid ul Azha and Muharram. Whether it’ll happen in Karachi or Lahore is anyone’s guess. I’m also pretty certain that the PFDC will have many more confirmations for November. In all probability its members (at least) will be prepared by then.

It is unfortunate, however, that the fashion community should be so unreliable. A designer’s basic responsibility is to design (at least) two concrete collections a year and make them available. NOT just travel, gallivant, network, be photographed around the world on what should be constructive time. Sometimes one gets the feeling that the most important thing on every Pakistani designer’s agenda is a free trip/showing abroad. They would even postpone their own wedding for it. But if something as simple as a timely collection and following a schedule cannot be achieved, then what’s all the fuss about? A one-off review in a foreign publication? I wish the fashion industry would get real and build instead of just boast!

The Haute Team

This article is written by one of our competent team members, who probably didn't have enough to say to own up to it.