(Dawn Images, Nov 21 2010)
The PFDC & Sunsilk Fashion Week edited the shows to half their original number this season, a delightful decision, which was appreciated and approved by all. And although some designers will remain jaded in their design approach, Pakistani fashion today is all about new stars that shine with the promise of a very bright future for the industry. Here are eight of fashion weekâ€™s best, each of which have a responsibility to justify their approval by way of making these collections widely available, accessible and affordable!
Best Collection of the week: The House of Kamiar Rokni
Folkistan, from the House of Kamiar Rokni, was a visual smorgasbord of everything associated with Pakistan from voyeuristic parrots, evil eyes, soda bottles and street monkeys. The colour palette was vibrant and while the theme was indigenously regional, the patterns were diverse. Folkistan, replete with its dresses, tunics, cargo pants, bags and belts, will easily find its way into different markets worldwide. And Tia and Kamiar Rokniâ€™s smooth production operations will ensure that it does. A very desirable way to peddle Pakistani culture to the world, quantified by the fact that some foreign journalists at the show were desperate to take their favourite pieces back!
Best Menswear: Republic by Omar Farooq
This will hereby be remembered as the Republic of well-dressed men. Finally, after a decade long tug-of-war between menswear that is either too erotic, too traditional or too kitsch (impractical), one got to see a collection that was actually wonderful and wearable. Republicâ€™s Mediterranean Affair comprised an interesting interplay of cottons and linens trimmed in suede and satin. It presented an overall relaxed and yet corporate look, made perfect by the attention to detail right from the tanned skin tone, slim belts to casual summer sandals.
Best Debut: Mohsin
PIFD graduate and upcoming designer Mohsin received thunderous applause for his Homeless Hazara collection. In an introspective approach to fashion, he constructed his outfits out of various bags and knapsacks, which reflected the nomadic feel of the northern land. While his collection may have carried a feel of thesis work in its construction, the journey of consciousness that accompanied it gave it strength. A designer with evident potential, one hopes Mohsin can now travel the nine miles between creativity and retail.
Most promising: Ali Xeeshan and Fahad Hussayn
After putting out two visually stunning albeit unwearable collections in previous fashion weeks, young designer Ali Xeeshan finally nailed it with this tribute to Sindhâ€™s Kohli tribe, one of the most badly affected by floods. His collection, aptly titled Phoenix for its desire to encourage a rebirth of the tribe, was a manifestation of his personal OTT aesthetic decorated with tinsel appliquÃ©s on a myriad mixed media.
Another very promising designer, Fahad Hussayn, presented a contrasting all-white Rock Rudali collection stylized by chains and adornments that made his models reminiscent of women at a sacrificial altar. Already stocking successfully (he recently sold out at an exhibition at multi label boutique Ogaan in Delhi), Hussayn has the potential to translate his mastery in draping into contemporary clothing, a winning combination no doubt. Both these designers have their fingers on the pulse of fashion and manage to create â€˜looksâ€™ as well as â€˜collectionsâ€™, imperative to successful branding.
Most retro: Zara Shahjahan
Zara Shahjahanâ€™s ode to her grandmother Husna was also an ode to the swinging sixties. Three cheers to Zara for cropping the hemline, structuring the shirt to a hip hugging fit and for bringing the shalwar back to the runway. The colours on her palette may have had the tendency to overwhelm but the collection was dynamic nonetheless. Available in both Karachi and Lahore, this label will surely push new trends in spring/summer 2011.
Most innovative: Saai
Sticking to signature white (while digressing into burgundy every now and then), designer Sahar Atif of Saai presented the Lattice Lure collection, which was a strong display of intricate craftsmanship. A lot of hard work was put into developing the pleated fabric used to construct the garments, with patterns being just as diverse and varying. Especially interesting were the lowers in the collection which played with ruffles and drapes for different effects. Saaiâ€™s design narrative spoke of summer, a travelerâ€™s wardrobe and resort wear.
Most trendsetting: Feeha Jamshed for Teejays
Not enough can be said in honour of Feeha Jamshedâ€™s design sensibility but it must be said that if Pakistan started dressing like this, it would become one of the smartest nations in the region. Honouring her fatherâ€™s 40 year old legacy, Feeha titled her collection Teejayâ€™s Evolution and took a journey down memory lane with clothes that made sartorial sense even today. She brought cotton ghararas back on the catwalk and hinted at the diffusion of volume in favour of structure and streamlining for the future. Feehaâ€™s slightly baggier tops were teamed with tights or churidaars promoting a body consciousness that we had more or less forgotten about. And replacing embellishment were finishing touches in zips, ruffles, quilting and other quirky techniques. Feeha most certainly has brought Teejays from the seventies to the future of fashion!
Barring the handful of jaded collections that restricted themselves to voluminous and flowing silhouettes, paneled shirts and joras or even military influences (which are decidedly passÃ©), fashion week had a lot to offer in terms of design. Ammar Belalâ€™s Concrete Jungle collection may not have been designed for a local market but then neither does his highly westernized ethos. It is honorable of him to remain committed to it and well-built collections like this are essential to add dimension to a predominantly Pakistani fashion week. His dollar bill prints were especially catchy and one can see the youth picking up these shirts even here in Pakistan. Similarly, Moeed Yousuf and Feryal Aftab of Muse inspired with their clean and impressive western collection. At the end of the day it is the quality of clothes that counts and this label does not disappoint.
Bridging two world successfully was Sublime, whose designer Sara Shahid returned to her signature palette of black, white and camel. A very sophisticated designer, Sara designs for the modern woman who adheres to elegance and refuses to become a victim to trends and fashion. The equally well-traveled HSY also presented a collection that aimed to please the traditional as well as contemporary palate. A notable mention to Libas, whose designer Sehyr Saigol has an unfaltering taste for the refined. More classic in its approach than trendy, Libas put out two themes in white (with folkloric beaded embellishment) and black and red (sequined and lace eveningwear) and will surely be a hit amongst all those who can afford the pricey and exclusive label.
Moving towards the ethnic, Nida Azwer put up a cohesive show that catered to the designerâ€™s love for ancient motifs. Appreciated more for her workmanship instead of innovation of patterns, Azwer borrowed from Chinese motifs using intricate crafts of this region. More overwhelmingly traditional, bordering on bridals, was Elan. The fact that Khadijah Shah is successfully retailing in Karachi made her showing very apt and she justified her popularity by presenting designs that were put together very well. The trend that surfaced was the emphasis on heavily jeweled necklines. Again, it was intelligent of the designer to focus on her local, social and Middle Eastern market.
And last but not least, the Kolours of Kafiristan collection by young PIFD graduate Akif was visually stunning. It is designers like him and Mohsin that reassure that the future of Pakistani fashion is bright.