Nature is beautiful, gorgeous, stunning. Does that sound like a badly written Instagram caption? I have to agree that it does. But nature is what inspires fashion, in every possible way. Starting from the canvas â€“ fabric â€“ which could be silk, or organic cotton, leather, fur or animal hide, through colour palettes imitating birds of paradise and going right up to every expression of print that we see in ready to wear styles, nature dominates fashion in every possible way.
This summer, I have to confess, Iâ€™ve walked past the rain forest into a more serene space. Does that not make sense? Let me explain.
Walking through summer in Pakistan is like walking through an Amazonian rain forest. Thereâ€™s an abundance of flora and fauna, there is exotic animal life starting from birds of paradise to snakes, insects and even larger animals like elephants, felines, giraffes (nature at its glorious best albeit not in rain forests). Sometimes they all feature within the same print. Summer fashion in Pakistan is akin to the vibrancy of nature in its busiest, most extravagant form. But Iâ€™ve walked that path one year too many.
This summer I feel like walking on a sandy shore that is dominated by the serenity of nude sand, a blue ocean and soothing white clouds. Think Santorini. I want to live in a Ralph Lauren mood board, for Spring Summer 2018 especially. I want to detox my system of the exotic rainforest and embrace the surf and sand in all its therapeutic, minimalist glory. I want to wear blue, white and sandy colours that have a cool and calming effect on my sartorial soul. I want to wear solids, not prints.
The question is, with most designers busy with lawn collections, where do I find these serene solids? Maheen Khanâ€™s all white collection, for one, was a great place to start. The designer released a capsule collection of white shirts last week and they offered a great starting point. Crisp white cotton oversized shirts, a gentle cotton-based linen with big wooden buttons and flared sleeves, drop shoulder variations for the adventurous and a mild variation in colour who, like me, like a style and like to stock up on it in different shades. I bought the one white shirt and ordered two more in the same style: nautical striped and a washed out denim blue-grey. Gulabo is retaining its colourful trademark but has also gone monochrome for summer. Youâ€™ll be pleased to find solid reds, citrus orange, a marbled grey and of course, the staple white. Not many designers in Pakistan understand silhouette as well as Maheen does and the structural balance of these shirts is proof of that. This capsule collection is a winner and I hope Maheen introduces more designs in a lighter, cooler fabric.
Where else? My list of go-to designers for fashion forward solids includes Sonya Battla, who always has a selection at her flagship store in Karachi. Misha Lakhani and Body Focus Museum are also go-to stores when youâ€™re searching for solids in interesting shapes and sizes. Body Focus always offers edgy silhouettes, not for the faint hearted, whereas Misha Lakhani keeps things innovative and always within elegant lines. One needs an occasional pop of colour in life â€“ and my point of reference again is the Ralph Lauren Spring Summer 2018 collection for itâ€™s red, blue and yellow accents â€“ and for that Iâ€™d recommend you turn to Sania Maskatiya, who designs the most wearable solid tunics if you know how to look between the prints. And of course, thereâ€™s the wardrobe staple â€“ Chapter 2 â€“ which offers hand woven fabric without the warp and weave of print or embroidery.
With summer just barely taking off, Iâ€™m sure all our favourite designers will be thinking solid alongside print and I strongly recommend you do too.
- Graphic by Hira Humayun