Six eminent brands from Pakistan flew out to Dubai for a gala celebrating 120 years of crystal giant, Swarovski.
By Aamna Haider Isani
Crystals sparkled everywhere. They were casually strewn across glass tabletops, catching the candlelight at dinner. They dazzled on the lapels of men’s dinner jackets and twinkled delicately throughout the day as they were flaunted on chokers, pendants and the variety of accessories that women walked in wearing. The most spectacular display, however, was the Sparkling Couture exhibit itself. As curtains parted to reveal the customized gowns that over 40 designers from 11 countries had designed especially for the event, there was an audible gasp of delight followed by a murmur of excitement.
Six brands from Pakistan – Elan by Khadijah Shah, Faraz Manan, Tena Durrani, Maria B, Fahad Hussayn and Saira Shakira were part of the grand display and one takes pride in the fact that they were at par with international couturiers in terms of craft and craftsmanship. Each of the six gowns had been developed with a crystal theme in mind and the four main designers (Elan, Maria B, Tena Durrani and Faraz Manan) had incorporated thousands of the crystals from Swarovski’s new collection. The crystals, which were once considered inaccessible and unaffordable in Pakistan, are now retailing from official distributors in Karachi and Lahore.
“Swarovski is all about strong collaboration and building long lasting relationships,” Andrew Mojica, MD Swarovski Middle East spoke to me at the press lunch held earlier that day. “We’ve done this with the Coco Chanels and Christian Diors of the world and I can promise you that we intend to have the same kind of relationship with those Pakistani designers that have showcased today but we’ll also have more in the future.”
Mojica added that Swarovski saw Pakistan as a huge market with potential in couture as well as textiles.
While designers like Maria B are already using Swarovski crystals in their luxury fabric ranges, we learnt that a big collaboration with textile giant Khaadi was also underway.
The purpose of this gala, other than celebrating 120 years of Swarovski, was to exhibit some of the best couturiers in over 11 countries from South East Asia and the Middle East. The ‘centre piece’ was a magnificent wedding dress that boasted a crystal mesh created with over 600,000 Swarovski crystals. When asked, the designer, Fadi Abi Nader shared that the outfit would retail at anything between 225,000 to 245,000 Euros and that he already had a buyer for this particular piece.
“This is a great platform for Pakistani designers,” Khadijah Shah said. Her ensemble, an intricate wedding dress using aquamarine crystals from the latest fall/winter 2015 season, was a whopping 24 kilograms heavy and probably set a record at the gala. “Swarovski is an international brand and Dubai is a global hub so this allows us to showcase our work to all kinds of people living here. I feel that traditional pieces wouldn’t do very well but at Elan we do a lot of fusion that has a huge global market.”
While the designers from Pakistan were all spectacular in their own right, the one standout couture piece was Fahad Hussayn’s short dress; it was the only short dress in a sea of majestic gowns and therefore its edge and energy attracted the eye of the Emirati, especially the Lebanese, media.