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4 Oct

PLBW Daily Diary: Day One

Nabila is capable of perfection and this style show wasn’t a patch on Rock n Folk, Sompteux, the garden show, the Refresh show, even the Old to Bold style show that she showcased at PLBW last year. This was an oft-executed concept, first witnessed on the PFDC runway when designer YBQ painted an ensemble on to Aamina Sheikh. Paper doll missed the point.

From the luxe debut that PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week made last year – and we were shown repeated footage of the pomp as a reminder – I have to say that this year’s kick-start was comparatively quite limp. Yes, times are hard and we must be gracious and thankful for any flash of good news that comes our way, but there has to be some benchmark to quantify quality.

This was fashion week on a shoestring budget: a smaller black/red carpet to host front row celebrities and stars (of which there were almost none), a smaller runway with none of the grandeur that Hamza Tarrar designed last year, no theatrics or ‘moments’ on the stage and finally, most consequentially, 2/3 poor collections.

First days can be difficult and I guess today will establish where the show is going. But Day One was not impressive, on any account.

The Azza finale: a very ABCD take on the beautiful South Asian bridal.

This is bridal week, the equivalent to couture week anywhere in the world, and its idea is to make fashion attractive, not apologetic. Pret shows all over the world can even get away with happening in basements but when it’s couture, Karl Lagerfeld will book the Grand Palais in Paris and transport 12 turbines on a stage (recently for Chanel) to make a point. The scale elevates. At PLBW it descended and I have to say that by the end of the evening it plunged into the darkness of Sonia Azhar’s Dark Romance collection.

Even the Nabila’s interesting styling – the strong eyebrows and blood drenched Jap-vamp lips – could not save this Dark Romance.

One would have discounted the lack of opulence had better bridal couturiers shown and had the fashion/style been good. But it all wasn’t and that was the biggest disappointment of all.

A two hour delay in starting the inaugural trend show (it started past 8:30 instead of 6:30). It was announced that the council has organized one bridal and five pret weeks so far; you’d think that they’d have acquired the discipline to start on time by now!

Two very tedious bridal collections from Atelier Azza and Sonia Azhar would have cast the day for weak fashion had it not been for Misha Lakhani’s debut show, which was outstanding. She has the finesse of a couturier and by proposing separates even for ceremonial occasion wear, she has urged the average consumer (that apparently buys Sonia Azhar) to think and improvise.

Misha Lakhani’s runway debut.

The collection had variables, from lehngas to trousers, from long embellished jackets and dresses to delicate floral saris. There were prints and there was monochrome embellishment. It was all very opulent while being understated and quiet at the same time, undoubtedly a manifestation of the designer’s own personality. For a newcomer it was a brave and intelligent beginning. I must say that Misha is going from strength to strength; her label is available for orders at PFDC Lahore till Oct 6.

Atelier Azza

I actually looked forward to Atelier Azza because the designer has been around for a long time and has been featured in the foreign press widely (as we were shown in her show reel). Living in NY, one hoped she would have a different take on the bridal. But her take was very ABCD and I don’t say that in an Ammar Belal sort of way. It was confusion. The structure and finish on her dresses was neat but the dress designs themselves were very passé. Apart from a gold cape, a black mini dress with bejeweled shoulders and a crème and gold jacket (part of the showstopper ensemble) the collection was expat and out of touch.

HSY, Nabila, Mehreen and Moazzam at the L’Oreal lunch, which was better looking than the entire 4 hours spent at Royal Palm that evening.

The L’Oreal newsletter was the strongest element of the evening.

 L’Oreal had hosted a very pleasant Editors Lunch at Cosa Nostra earlier that evening. It’s always a pleasure to meet fashion insiders and corporates like Musharaf Hai and Moazzam Ali Khan who have always injected fabulous energy into fashion. But fashion weeks need more than energy. They need big budgets to create big enough platforms. At the end of the day, all that matters is how organized and slick an event is and how many ‘good’ designers (new or old is irrelevant) that event flaunts. The atmosphere, the ambience, the front row, the look & style, the discipline and most importantly, the design quality is what makes or breaks it. With a power house like Sehyr Saigol at the helm of all affairs, it was shocking to see the quality of design projected come to this.

Where is Nilofer Shahid, the most established bridal couturier in Lahore? Where are Sana Safina, who are stocking at the PFDC Bridal Boulevard in Delhi? How about Umar Sayeed? Where is Body Focus Museum, PFDC’s hottest seller? I know that HSY will showing on the last day but what about Karma, Kamiar Rokni, Sara Shahid and others? Did they not have a year to prepare for bridal week? And beyond Lahore, where is Bunto Kazmi, Shamaeel, Faiza Samee, Rizwan Beyg and big names that are established as Pakistan’s best? This divide has now become shameful. Frustrating.

In the front row for a while: Saad Ali, CEO and strongest link in PFDC, Maheen Kardar, who was responsible for front-stage management and Sara Shahid, who acted as the official spokesperson/red carpet host for PFDC. These designers should have been showing instead.

Today’s lineup – Asifa & Nabeel, Hina Butt and Ali Xeeshan – clashes with the T20 semi final but I promise I won’t let that influence my fair analyses of the day!

The Haute Team

This article is written by one of our competent team members, who probably didn't have enough to say to own up to it.