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22 Nov

My Last Word on Fashion Week

PFDC Chairperson and Libas designer, Sehyr Saigol, is one person who can actually unite the Lahore-Karachi fashion forces but will she? THAT is the question since she was at the helm of the divide! That said, many people have faith that she can and will.

There’s so much to say regarding the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week, and I decided not to say it in print as post India and LSA fatigue had me (and probably my readers) exhausted. That is precisely why I limited my narrative to the best collections (which were very exciting) but of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist adding more. This, however, will be my last post regarding fashion week.

Pakistani fashion is finally on the map

I have to say that although the foreign press has been present throughout – for all fashion weeks – the coverage has never been this positive and fashion specific. It is a huge achievement, which not even the CID building bombing could dilute. In fact in retrospect, while the timing at that time seemed like it couldn’t have been worse, it was in a way beneficial for disaster to have struck Karachi during fashion week. I say this because fashion managed to bear the brunt and move one despite everything. Foreign journalists actually managed to witness the astounding resilience of the city and could appreciate the efforts to put up a fashion week even better.

“I get it now,” Federica a journalist from Italy said to me.

“This is like Beirut,” said French fashion expert Alexandra Senes after the Thursday shows (and the bomb). “I am getting messages to fly back immediately and my loved ones are fearing for my life but I won’t leave. And I know I will be back next year. I am in love with Pakistan.”

The fact that fashion week continued despite the odds reassures one that it too, like the rest of the country, has acquired the perseverance and fighting spirit to carry on irrespective of obstacles. And consistency is so important for the fashion industry to find solid footing. Fashion weeks on a six monthly cycle will surely help as systems and logistics are easing themselves out as they proceed.

Designers need to take responsibility now!

The Pakistan Fashion Design Council has done its bit in setting up a platform and inviting the media, buyers and investors in making it credible. It is now up to designers to justify these efforts by getting their act together. I say this, of course, for designers who don’t have their act together and manage to put a collection together for creative purposes but never manage to translate it to retail.

That, and they need to get out of the ‘spoon-feed-me’ pattern. One did expect more individual press kits, goody bags and gimmickry than what was witnessed during this fashion week. The post show press conferences were too hasty and haphazard. And where were the collections exhibited? Nowhere. While the destruction of the Sheraton did hamper the organized exhibition, I do feel that at least a mannequin for each designer (showing that day) could have been put up in the press room. Journalists did want to see the garments closely and for foreigners who did not understand the craft, a simple press release would have sufficed. But apparently even that is too much for most designers to handle!

I was told that designers did not want to exhibit their dresses for fear of theft. I really don’t think anyone would have/could have stolen an outfit off a mannequin even if liquid soap dispensers were stolen from the washrooms!

Model red alert!

Is it just me or does everyone feel that models hit a rock bottom low this time? I understand that there is a dearth of tall, young girls in the industry and that nine new girls had been introduced to the runways but some of them were really off the ideal. Gia Ali’s comeback was inexplicable. She doesn’t look like a fashion model anymore; in fact she never did! Never again, please. Nadia Malik is beautiful but again, too short for the runway.

Most of the girls were way too short! Others were just plain unimpressive. I have to say that despite their age, at least Iraj and Nadia Hussain justify being called fashion models. Them and Rabya Butt, Mehreen Syed, Fayeza Ansari, Nadia Ali, Cybil and a few others are fine. Ayyan and Koni need to inject some attitude in their walk. A couple of new girls – whose names I do not know – were good but the rest were horror horror!

And while we’re on models, can some event manager/choreographer – Sheru, Frieha? – please please do a shoe check before a show. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, models need to focus on footgear and clunkies are NOT attractive! Neither are plastic bra straps which again, are NOT invisible.

One for all!

Also, it cannot be emphasized enough that Pakistan needs to have one fashion week, held twice a year selecting the very best of the fashion industry to show. How embarrassing is it that Alexandra Senes pointed this out at a post show conference. She said that Pakistani designers need to unite and show up France and Italy, not each other. That can only happen if the platform is consolidated. Can it? I don’t think it’s so simple.

In the meantime, I do think that the councils should draw up an MoU at least for fashion weeks. The PFDC should host one season (ideally March) in Lahore and Fashion Pakistan should host one season (October-November) in Karachi and designers from all across the country should be allowed to participate in both, to their own discretion. It will save resources, efforts and time as well as unify the best of Pakistani fashion for the world to appreciate. That would be a dream.

And I would like to end with a credit roll…

Three cheers for Unilever and the Sunsilk team who not only sponsored the whole production but stayed calm and committed through thick and thin.

Show production: The cats at catwalk did a fine job.

Show styling: Khawar Riaz, who once again proved that he can do men well and Sabs, who I really think we need a break from. Is anybody listening?

Choeography: Frieha Altaf and Hassan Sheheryar Yasin: it doesn’t get any better than this!

PR: Lotus, undoubtedly the MOST, in fact the only truly professional PR agency in Pakistan. Proof in the fact that Selina wasn’t even around and her team managed just as well. Well done guys!

Event coordination by the R-Team was definitely noteworthy and needs to rise from anonymity.

And last but not least, the international buyer and journalist consultants at Latitude, Nuscie and Omar Jamil who really did pull in personal clout to ensure an impressive attendance.

All blog photography at fashion week by Humayun M

The Haute Team