What exactly is the British Council reconstructing? This exhibition titled Reconstruction – that has traveled through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and will now proceed to Moscow, Russia after spending a week in Karachi – is all about recreating the culture heritage of various regions in contemporary fashion.
The journey from culture to contemporary fashion is one almost every Pakistani designer undertakes at least once in his/her career but not always is it so refined and sophisticated. The fusion we see is often too literal. This exhibition is a very welcome benchmark for comparison. It shows how culture can be recreated by the reincarnation of a region’s essence, not essentially something as literal as an applique of it’s popular leitmotifs like landmarks and pop art. The vision that these seven internationally reputed designers have, I guess, is the product of have learnt at the world’s best schools as well as living in the world most fashionably progressive cities.
While creations by the international designers – Hussein Chalayan, Peter Jensen, Sophia Kokosalaki, Marios Schwab, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood and Osman Yousefzada – will be exhibited at the IVSAA for a week (a must visit for all fashion students and designers), the evening’s show was marked by a presentation by cultural brand FnkAsia, which similarly imbeds its ethos in Pakistani craft.
There are two things that I would take away from this exhibition: first, the desperate need for documentation of Pakistani fashion. There are no books or websites (credible) that are dedicated to Pakistani fashion. Second, the need for permanent fashion displays, in museums or fashion/design schools. Fashion councils need to realize that there is life beyond fashion weeks and foreign shows. A little legwork to save decades of work from wasting into oblivion is required. Oh well, if no one does it I guess I’ll just have to do it myself.