It’s always pleasant to see celebrities on the catwalk or singers serenading the models as they walk. It’s also fun when a fashion show has some pleasant surprises hidden up its sleeves, such as an unusual showstopper, but what is disappointing is when the focus shifts to these performances, taking away from the fashion. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened at the third and final day of FPW, where some special appearances ended up overshadowing the collections put out by the designers.
Opening the show was the newly appointed CEO of Fashion Pakistan Council, Nida Azwer, who brought one of Pakistan’s favourite modern classical singers, Ali Sethi along with Ayesha Omar, onto the runway. Sporting an impeccably embroidered shawl, Sethi crooned with his soothing vocals, providing the perfect setting for Azwer’s Alankara. Using nature-inspired motifs, the collection’s strength came from its intricate embroidery that no one else on the ramp was able to beat. Just as the collection’s colour palette varied from outfit to outfit, where Azwer amalgamated soft pastels with rich and brooding maroons, the silhouettes also changed shape as Azwer played with cuts, pairing peplum tops with traditional lehengas.
Following Azwer, Saira Rizwan’s Banaras proved to be an uninspiring collection simply because it provided nothing new in terms of trends or style that will dictate the course of fashion. At the final day of Fashion Week you do expect to see some innovation or style predictions but none of that came across in Rizwan’s collection.
Next in line was Republic womenswear’s collection, Mon Trésor, which brought Mawra Hocane to the stage. It was extremely disappointing to note that the showstoppers were not receiving much applause or attention by the audience. Either people have become really immune to someone like Ayesha Omar (who’s walked in numerous shows) walking the ramp for the umpteenth time or it’s the fact that people are too busy photographing the designers, their collections and showstoppers than actually viewing and appreciating anything. Regardless, Republic’s bridal collection was safe and predictable but still beautiful at the same time.
One of the most cohesive collections of the day was by Deepak n Fahad that proved that simplicity can be fashionable too. The menswear line, Rind’ana, thankfully stayed away from black or gold to create a statement collection and instead brought focus to pastel hues such as mint green, powder blue and coral. The embroidered sherwanis with tapered pants provided a very contemporary look to an otherwise traditional style. However, their collection was opened by a very dramatic Mohsin Abbas Haider who didn’t want to walk till the end of the runway in a straight line. It really boils down to whether you love or hate the Na Maloom Afraad star but still, it was a fun breather from the monotony of predictable behaviour on the runway.
Stealing the limelight from other designers on Day Three was Rozina Munib but not for reasons one would imagine. While her collection failed to resonate with the fashionistas, it was one special showstopper that finally jolted the seemingly bored audience back to life. Every member in the hall stood up to honour an icon of bravery and Mukhtaran Mai didn’t look the slightest bit uncomfortable or out of place as she stepped out with a big beautiful smile on her face. The idea behind bringing Mukhtaran bibi on stage was to encourage girls to speak up about abuse and sexual assault, according to the designer. ‘’There are so many girls who suffer silently from sexual assaults. I just wanted to use this opportunity to tell them that there is life after such a tragedy. Women need to speak up and report such crimes, and not feel helpless about their future, and who better than Mukhtaran Mai to send that message across?’’
But the show wasn’t done with its theatrics just as yet. Nauman Arfeen’s finale brought out young children, who came tumbling out on stage to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s kalaam. Dressed immaculately in traditional wedding garb, with boys sporting turbans on their heads and girls walking out in their lehenga cholis, the children had the audience joyously applauding at their entry. Also joining the stage were Sarwat Gillani with husband Fahad Mirza, and child actor Jibraiyl Ahmed who made his debut in Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai.
With that show, Fashion Pakistan Week Winter/Festive 2016 was a wrap. The fact that one will remember the theatrics more than the collections says a lot about the standard of fashion showcased. With most collections dabbling in commercial and mundane wedding wear, there wasn’t much that could be called innovative or trendsetting. Yes, most fashion designers are commercial and tend to think within the box for the sake of sales, but fashion isn’t necessarily about sales. It’s about creating individualistic statements that are memorable or thought provoking, and unfortunately, very few strong statements were made this year.
This article was first published in Instep, 3rd November 2016.