Ideally, Day Three of the PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week should have started with Nickie Nina and ended with Khadija Shah’s Elan, which was the strongest of the evening. Layla Chatoor, who had come to make a debut/comeback from Karachi, fell in between, her colour palette subtle and beautiful but her lack of confidence and runway experience showing to her disadvantage. It would be fair to say that the evening started on its strongest note and then gradually slipped into monotonous tedium of seeing one generic bridal after the other.
The style segment of the day was a collaboration between Toni & Guy and Mohsin Ali. For the T&G style studio to manage even one day at fashion week without it’s creative head, Shammal Qureshi, was an achievement and a half. Shammal is vacationing in Spain these days and Juju Haider, his heir apparent, stepped in to keep things afloat. Anyone who knows Juju will vouch for her trouper/rock star attitude and she proved herself by managing the day just fine. The makeup may not have had the definition that Nabila had but the hair projected a very concrete love for braids, ranging from the beehive braid, the temple braid to the herringbone etc. Young brides should look to braiding their hair as opposed to sticking to the traditional, boring bun.
The young Mohsin Ali lent an even more youthful edge to his take on the bridal. Mohsin certainly won’t be selling dresses and pouf skirts at Crimson but it takes a designer to make a brave statement and show his vision of what he wants to make as opposed to what would sell. One appreciates that in this consumer-driven time.
Elan’s collection brought a little bit of magic to the runway, the bejeweled cuffs and the heavily and yet perfectly encrusted outfits lending an air of perfection to Lahore’s bridal climate. With her level of intricacy and her handle on colour, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Elan is the Umar Sayeed of Lahore. That said, I believe her structures were stronger, the sexy back falling perfectly on every model’s petite waistline.
Khadija played with silhouettes in this bridal forecast. She made it very clear that younger girls need to lift the hemlines and show off some leg (albeit a clad leg) whereas the mature can stick to graceful sophistication and pledge eternal allegiance to the long and graceful. Age-appropriate occasion-wear is what designers should be promoting and the one for all rule needs to die.
What I also loved was the co-branding Khadija Shah struck with evening bags and clutches from Fashion Compassion. Raisig a banner for ethical fashion, Ayesha Mustafa is bringing Fashion Compassion products to Ensemble Karachi next week and this was an effective precursor to her launch.
Layla Chatoor, who is a known name in Karachi, made a runway debut at PLBW and hers was a delicate palette of pastels, very tuned in to coastal city’s style ethos. I have to say that her add-ons were unnecessary – the net veils and gold panjangla gloves – giving her clothes an amateur air, but the clothes themselves were lovely. It was apparent that Layla had worked hard on her showing, adding look books, silk scarves printed with her logo and even leather clutches in the goodie bag. One would like to see more from her and given the background (her husband is partner at Threads and Motifs) it is also needful of her to take her strengths to prêt ala Sania Maskatiya. Bridals may be where the fortune is but prêt is what brings in the fame. I do believe Layla has it in her to take her brand forward.
Last and also least impressive of the day was design duo Nickie Nina. For the number of years they have spent in the industry, there was still not a single signature look and every ensemble was cast in a safety net with no element of fashion forwardness. The collection was by no means bad and in fact there was one piece – a jacket (left) – that I really liked. But I wasn’t impressed by the full range and here’s why: NN have been around long enough to have developed a standout signature. They haven’t. For the weight (literal) of material that goes into each outfit, the silhouettes aren’t stable enough. A bridal that Amna Ilyas wore was so heavy that the deep cut neckline plunged under weight and revealed her underclothes. No balance. Likewise, several shoulder embroideries didn’t sit across the shoulder and stood out like a picture in a pop up book.
I know that NN feel that they are unjustly criticized and sidelined but margins of error and head-starts can be given to newcomers not designers who have been around forever and charge over 3000 Euros for an outfit when they exhibit outside Pakistan.
So, Day 3 concluded on that note. Another relevant observation is that there were no buyers or stockists. There was a time when PFDC flew in foreign press and international buyers (an unnecessary expense, perhaps needed for inaugural hype) and spoke about Paris and big dreams.
Stockists like Mariya Kassam (Soiree), Sara Belhasa (Studio 8), Shagun Khanna (Ogaan), Razia and Nadir (Designer’s Lounge), Mini Bindra (the lady behind the PFDC Bridal Boulevard in Delhi) all came to fashion weeks and generated business (especially for bridals and occasion wear) for designers. They are not around anymore. The three big retailers in Pakistan: Zeba Husain, Zahir Rahimtoola and Asad Tareen were also nowhere to be seen. If Zeba comes today it will be to support Nida Azwer, not pick up new names.
So, this self-sufficient drive that the PFDC is on could also means that it doesn’t need or want its design forces to stock anywhere but at the PFDC Boulevard. Another observation: the council has been very liberal and generous in bringing foreign journalists into Pakistan but what happens when the council takes a show to India and forgets the local media? They could’ve taken their favourite journalists – anyone – but they should have taken someone to ensure transparent and unbiased reporting. The PFDC launch in Delhi was a big story, and it’ll surely find its way to Libas, the PFDC mouthpiece, as an exclusive and controlled feature.
Fashion weeks mean business and awareness for fashion that comes through the media. By all means that needs to be expanded and not curtailed.