As far as memory serves me, fashion commentator Hilary Alexander was first scheduled to come to Pakistan for the original Pakistan Fashion Week, planned and panned back in 2007. PFW, a Jang Group project for which IMG was roped in, never materialized but the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (one of the country’s TWO fashion councils) has managed to invite her for their event next week. Alexander will no doubt bring extensive experience and value to PFDC’s table. Hopefully they’ll be listening to it all.
Hilary Alexander won the British Fashion Journalist of the Year award in 1998, then again in 2003. This year the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) will be conferring the Eugenia Shepphard award for media to her. This Media Award is given to ‘a writer, photographer, or editor who has used his or her craft to further the profession of fashion reporting and coverage.’
The fact that the British and American fashion councils hold their fashion media in such high esteem would be a good place for the PFDC to begin their learning curve as far as media relations go. From banning journalists from their initial shows, censoring by-lines on their website to generally disregarding the media’s input and value to their shows, the PFDC has pretty much covered it all in pushing the local media down as it boosts international journalists up. This year they stated that the council didn’t have the budget to fly (prominent) fashion journalists in from Karachi. It did have the budget to fly journalists in from all over the world. The issue rose and was resolved, the principal secured for next time, one was reassured. One feels that the council’s cold shoulders are getting warm. Are they? We’ll find out this week.
A mutual trust and respect must consolidate now that the stakes for Pakistani fashion are getting high.
Meanwhile, a big bravo to the two fashion councils – Fashion Pakistan and Pakistan Fashion Design Council – for culling media attention towards fashion, especially internationally. Carla Power did report positively on Fashion Pakistan Week (April 2010) in the September issue of the American Vogue last year. When four of Pakistan’s top designers – Deepak Perwani, Nomi Ansari, Shamaeel and Maheen Khan – showed in Singapore last May, fashion writer Colin McDowell did give them his approval on his blog. Read it here if you haven’t already:
A stimulating day started with a breath of fresh air blown in from Pakistan. Four very different talents under the umbrella title of Fashion Asia came together to show in Singapore. They made me realise yet again how vibrant and original clothes from this part of the world can be when they are not too linked to a stereotype of a national costume. They are absolutely not to be compared with the tired western copies put out by designers who have had an exotic holiday somewhere, and return with surface ideas they’ve nicked. The point such western designers so often miss is that, just as in the west, good eastern fashion is based on a philosophy of life, not a few pretty primary colours and some beading.
After all, we are all conscious of the fact that all creativity stems from a culture – and often a mix of more than one. In fact, the clothes shown by Maheen Khan, Shamaeel Ansari, Deepak Perwani, and Nomi Ansari with Fashion Asia were far too sophisticated to have the tag of ethnic stuck on them. These were clothes that could fit in many sophisticated women’s wardrobes. Not all; not every wardrobe; and probably not in their entirety – but, then, who ever buys a total wardrobe from one label, in any case?
It is a great start and the only thing keeping it short of being ideal is the division of fashion designers. Between divisive politics of the two councils, one never gets to see designers as brilliant as Sonya Battla, Iman Ahmad, Sana Safinaz, Deepak Perwani, Maheen Khan, Rizwan Beyg, Sublime, Kamiar Rokni, Shamaeel, Nomi Ansari and many others on the same runway. Alexandra Senes was spot on when she said that Pakistani designers had to stop fighting amongst themselves. And I’m sure Hilary Alexander will advise them the same. Hopefully they’ll be listening.