If you’ve been in one of those hot & cold situations that leave your hands feeling clammy then you’ll know what it must have felt like to be at fashion week last evening. The text messages started pouring in after eight, relatives insisting everyone return home immediately. It was bizarre, with fashion flashing in front of our eyes, while lives must have been flashing in front of so many on the other side of town. No matter how much you try to sugar coat life in Pakistan, you know that the core is as bitter as hell. But the show did go on. HSY announced the elimination of the three customary breaks; he knew people would have left. The air never went back to normal but it held bitter-sweetness rather than panic.
The good thing – if there can ever be a good thing in these circumstances – was that the foreign media finally got to understand what it is like (living on the edge) for us here. There was a tinge of compassion and hats off to French fashion journalist and consultant Alexandra Senes, who spoke with reassurance that she would continue coming to Pakistan for fashion week, no matter what. Comparing the situation with Beirut, she appreciated how fashion was being pushed forward despite everything.
That was more or less what everyone I spoke to felt after the initial shock had settled in. My friend IANS journalist Shilpa Raina (from Delhi) felt she had to find a story at the blast site and was eager to return to the apparently affected Sheraton building. I could not persuade her to pack up and move out. Moving out was one thing, Frederico from Italy apparently walked out of the hotel late night to get a feel of what was happening around Sheraton, on the streets. She made it back safe and sound which is a relief! Michelle Stockman (AFP), another friend from New York, was initially rattled but then was more concerned about making contact with her friends and colleagues, worrying back home. A media centre – surely a staple for any organized fashion week – would have come in handy. The media has been complaining about the lack of it.
So back to the dynamic of the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week, a lot of people will return home questioning whether it was a good idea to bring the show to Karachi and I can safely say (speaking for many people) that it wasn’t. The bomb did eventually become the Grinch that stole Christmas but I do think the event lacked expected buzz even before the bomb became its scapegoat. A loosely packed venue and generally lackluster attendance, the fact that some of Pakistani fashion’s best designers are not showing, a lack of press kits, goody bags, a media centre or exhibition space left much to be desired though the council did put in their very best to ensure everything was organized.
Hassan Sheheryar is a packet of energy himself – the show choreography managed by him and Frieha was crisp – but there is just so much oomph one man can bring to a show. The same applies to a similar livewire, Kamiar Rokni (backstage management) who at the end of the day wasn’t as lively as he usually is. The groundwork was sincere; it just isn’t easy organizing an event this big in a city that you are not familiar with and for that reason alone, the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week should have stayed in Lahore where it easily created and maintained necessary hoopla back in February. Now that was an event worth writing home about. Fashion weeks are just not meant to travel and their being committed to one city helps create fashion capitals. That’s another reason.
Two days into fashion week (two days left), one can only hope that the energy levels pick up.
Collection reviews coming up…
Photography by Humayun M