The PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week began in Lahore last night and it was a lineup of 5 very interesting and diverse names to begin with. Luckily, most of them managed to deliver on expectations associated with their names and reputation. Content is king and PLBW stood up for that.
That said, two glaring errors almost damaged the near perfect day: 1) the timing as the shows started atrociously late, suffered tiring breaks between shows, and ended insufferably post midnight and 2) the selection of models. There were out-of-place, awkward foreign models on the runway and highly respected and desirable local models (like Amna Baber, Cybil and Nooray) in the front rows. What influenced the council’s choice of models is a discussion for another day.
Over to the designers…
Nomi Ansari opened fashion week with a collection that was nothing short of fireworks. He’s a master craftsman, who has love and obsession with his craft, and it shows. This collection played on the designer’s love affair with colour and his obsession with precision. Not a colour out of place, not a stitch out of line, this was yet another collection that could go anywhere in the world and open a window to the vibrancy of Pakistani tradition. People say that Nomi’s silhouettes don’t change, and while that may be true, just the fact that he has made them his signature and that too with the kind of detailing that he exhibits, is his biggest strength. Fun elements in the collection were jeweled belts that demanded toned midriffs and the couture bags and shoes, which are an integral part of any bridal collection.
Maya Ali, Pakistan’s beautiful new film star, gave a warranted conclusion to Nomi’s collection, which incidentally was also called ‘Maya’.
Collection: RGYAAL-MO or Queens of North
It’s wonderful when a designer like Nomi Ansari can be successfully followed by a young albeit blazing new name such as Hussain Rehar. Rehar’s creative streak and his play on layers, sheer fabrics, metal and mirrors was quite magical. His was a bold and smoking hot collection, a relief for younger girls who may not want to look twice their age in traditional regalia, especially at their best friend’s wedding. Rehar’s construction and play on silhouette was promising.
My only bone of contention in this otherwise solid collection were the few experimental pieces that had lowers missing and looked incomplete. They also gave a disturbing, violent impression, which may or may not have been the designer’s intention. If they were, then good for him for daring.
While there were some pretty pieces in Rema Shehrbano’s debut collection, Sophia was not quite ready for a runway debut, especially not on a platform as mature as the PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week. The label has a following and commercial appeal but fashion week needs to be a display of outstanding craft, innovation and a cohesion of unique ideas, which at the moment it struggled with. There were glimpses of creativity in detailing and colour coordinates. Rema and Shehrbano have both the smarts, the aesthetic sense and the exposure to evolve. Given a few more showings, they should be able to pinpoint and build on a signature.
Saira Shakira have managed to build a very solid, credible name for themselves and it’s not without reason. They have a unique sense of aesthetic that allows their designs to edge off when things start getting too predictable. This collection too had its moments, as with the grey and white segments. One also noticed and appreciated the oversized armholes, which allowed embellished and printed underslips a moment in the spotlight. Layering did appear to be the call of the day and one got to witness a lot of that in Fairuza, a collection that was definitely just as semi-precious as its name.
The clocks in Ali Xeeshan’s theatrical set of a runway struck midnight, and sure enough, it was close to midnight when his solo show began. An entertaining video focusing on the mischief of social media led to a collection that was quintessential Ali Xeeshan and surely, Ijaazat turned out to be one of his stronger collections. The sheer variety of shapes was a delight. From voluminous jackets and hybrid saris to the more conventional ghararas and lehngas, from prints to solids and oodles of experimental embellishment, it was obvious that this was a collection Ali Xeeshan had designed to wake up the experimental dresser in us all. It was almost like saying that ladies, allow yourself the freedom to be different. The menswear, unfortunately, didn’t quite have the same impact but the solo show itself made up for the few insufficiencies. For Ali to invest in a separate show area and customize it for his collection and guests is what we need to see more of.
- All photography by Faisal Farooqui and his team at Dragonfly