PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Weeks puts up the best possible face of Pakistani fashion.
I’m posting the full review, which was condensed for Dawn due to space restrictions. The published version of the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week overview (Dawn Images, May 5 2013) can be read here …
With content being the core strength of any fashion week in the world, Pakistan Fashion Design Council established the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week (PSFW) as the most powerful platform for fashion designers in the country. An unprecedented lineup – integrating the best possible names from Karachi and Lahore – was selected and presented to a contingent of foreign buyers, retailers, journalists and fashion consultants. ‘The Business of Fashion’ was chanted as the PSFW mission statement and indeed, it was a fine balance between sharp design and business generation that broke through as the value of the event.
The Power Houses
Designers who showed strong design innovation combined with a growth plan for their brand impressed the most. Topping that list would be Sana Safinaz, who have been hot sellers since the day they stepped into fashion twenty years ago but have upped the ante with Pakistan’s first high end lifestyle store. Their show, that provided a teaser into the merchandize that is now available, was a unanimous hit amongst fans and buyers alike.
“Sana Safinaz need no marketing because they already have great recognition in India and sell very well,” shared Mini Bindra who owns the PFDC Boulevard in Delhi and planned on buying a capsule of the fashion week collection. “Women love their fusion but seven out of ten girls want to wear western. This twist will make them even more popular.”
Powerhouse Shamoon Sultan will be Sana Safinaz’s strongest competition, as the Khaadi Khaas show visibly polished the Khaadi ethos to a more refined palette. If fabric and print is what Khaadi is defined by, then Khaadi Khaas diversified and made very strong fashion statements. A little bit of European Morocco playing to a contemporary Arab beat, this stunning collection would work as well in Pakistan as it would in Paris. Already retailing across Pakistan and Dubai, Qatar and UK, Sultan shared, were next on the cards.
Billed as one of the top brands of Pakistan, Karma by Maheen Kardar spread its wings into MK Nation, while taking Karma Pink back to the twenties with Great Gatsby as inspiration for their ready to wear luxury show. And whether it was the strong political statement MK Nation made as Ode to Pakistan or the commitment to luxury fusion, Karma had incredible impact that will reverberate in stores across Pakistan and beyond.
“Karma is a desirable brand because Maheen Kardar understands the need for speed and competitive pricing,” Mini Bindra shared. “She will be able to diffuse her designs for retail very effectively.”
While Sana Safinaz, Khaadi and Karma have time and experience behind them, the youngest label to influence design and retail trends in Pakistan is Sania Maskatiya. And presenting another collection of fabulous digital prints – Ahgaaz taking inspiration from old civilizations presented on a floral and serpentine moodboard – Sania Maskatiya took one into a fantastical garden of Eden, also the feel you get when you step into her standalone store in Lahore.
Gorgeous and getting there…
Extraordinary design is what fashion is about and these designers showcased collections that had incredible wow factor.
Topping this list would be Sublime by Sara Shahid, who brought her clean, minimalist philosophy to a vivid, acid palette of prints and blocks. It was the best collection of Day 1, made stronger by the fact that it will be available at her design studio in Lahore. It’s important NOW (pun intended as this was the title of her collection) that she infiltrate Karachi just as effectively.
The same applies to Elan by Khadijah Shah, who presented a beautiful luxury line serenading the mythical Oriental nightingale. Beautiful prints on a high-end silk canvas, embellished by the finest of pearls and crystals, Elan was true to her signature lavishness that reflects in her bridals, her lawn and her luxury pret. It hasn’t been able to translate to ready to wear and transport to Karachi though. This nightingale needs to fly south! That said Khadijah Shah has a growing clientele in India.
“Elan has made a name in India as she has been very regular, and gives us good wholesale prices,” shared Bindra in an exclusive chat with Dawn Images. “We have French and Saudi as well as NRI buyers for Elan.”
Another young label spreading its wings is Misha Lakhani. Very new to the business of fashion, Misha already has a flagship store in Karachi and is stocking at L’Atelier in Islamabad and Lahore. But asides the business plan that she has embarked with, it’s her delicate aesthetic that makes her a discerning name already. The Misha Lakhani label has become synonymous with old world charm, a commitment to the word vintage while having an eye on modernity. It’s an ethereal vision.
As sexy as Misha Lakhani is subtle, Shehla Chatoor, Maheen Karim and Muse were names that fell under the best of ‘high society fashion’. Designed for women who are as comfortable in silk as they are in their skin, these designers define the very best of luxury pret. Shehla Chatoor is already on the ‘must-have’ list for fashionistas across Pakistan (she has a huge clientele) and slowly but surely, Maheen Karim and Muse are becoming more and more accessible too.
Young and wild and free!
I’m sure Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg weren’t thinking fashion when they came up with this track but at the other end of the fashion week spectrum – the ‘young and wild and free’ – were names like Wardha Saleem, Fahad Hussayn, Ali Xeeshan and Tapu Javeri who gave the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week essential currents of high voltage theatrics combined with an incredibly edginess. Unapologetically youthful with no desire to acquire the fluid maturity of established designers, these were collections that appealed to the wild side of fashion.
Wardha Saleem’s Doodle Junction brought Sindhi folklore to a young cartoonist’s drawing board, Fahad Hussayn’s eagles – as mystical as three eyed ravens – transported style to the darkness of King’s Landing (reference: Game of Thrones). And as white as Hussayn was black, Ali Xeeshan’s Jalsa was a cheeky take on the purity of white. Tapu Javeri showcased four different prints that immortalized leitmotifs of Karachi’s landscape (adapted from his photographs) and the bags as well as the prints (clothes designed by Sadaf Malaterre, Wardha Saleem, Adnan Pardesy and Rizwan Beyg) were a welcome change to Punjabi folklore that has gone into overdrive.
Also falling in this category were Yahsir Waheed (with a funky take on truck art) and Feeha Jamshed’s reinvention of black and white. Yahsir is one of the most iconic personalities in Pakistan’s fashion industry and Feeha Jamshed is one of the most avante garde. It is her handle on design that has landed her a nomination for the prestigious Woolmark Prize in UK. Again, the PFDC council needs to be accredited for facilitating this exposure. Both Yahsir and Feeha need to make their collections more widely accessible.
The business of fashion did get unprecedented airing at this fashion week, thanks to the hard work and diligence of the Pakistan Fashion Design Council led by the one-person powerhouse, Sehyr Saigol. There were buyers from India and UK (Mini Bindra, Pradeep Hirani, CAF Ventures), ready to take designers from Pakistan on-line. There were consultants like Carole Hanson from Australia, ready to train designers on the mechanics of preparing for international retail and foreign media to put out the right word. What made all of this an unprecedented success, however, was the integration of the best of fashion from Lahore and Karachi. A well edited selection of names showed the world the best face of Pakistani fashion yet. Barring a few names, this line-up could not have gotten better. And it had to come on a single platform to get bigger. Which it did!
The King of Couture is back
Rizwan Beyg made an astounding comeback with this ode to truck art, which left everyone wide eyed at the intricacy of workmanship that was seen in the bags and shoes. It was a stunning visual statement made in favour of the vibrancy of Pakistan’s culture; an image that will undoubtedly elevate the country’s bleak stereotypical image. What made this collection even more important was the fact that Beyg, in his pursuit of working with artisans from rural areas, had involved workers from different areas of interior Sindh. We have been talking of the synergy between artisans and designers forever and Beyg has done it to maximum effect. His deconstructed chiffon garments complimented the accessories. In a chat with Dawn Images, Beyg shared that this collection would be made available internationally and that he had already started working with artisans of Multan for his next. Ethical is most certainly more fashionable!
All images by the fabulous Faisal Farooqui at Dragonfly