Take a philanthropic cultural exchange, add to it heritage and history, and recreate it as high fashion and you have what will unfold on the runways of Milan Fashion Week this weekend.
Stella Jean, a leading Italian designer visited Pakistan earlier this year in an effort to push the envelope of Strategic Development Goals (SDG), and empower rural women through fashion. Invited by His Excellency Mr. Nadeem Riaz, Ambassador of Pakistan in Italy, the visit was organized in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), under the patronage of the Ministry of Commerce. The project had the full support of Secretary Commerce, Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera.
Impressed by the design elements and the embroidery style that is native to the women of the rural mountainous areas of Chitral, Kalash and Hunza, Stella Jean decided to incorporate their craft in her Spring/Summer 2020 collection, that is all set to be showcased at the Milan Fashion Week on September 21, this weekend.
Forming a bridge between the local artisans and the cross border fashion house, local NGOs in Chitral and Gilgit and Hunza played an important part; in Chitral, an NGO formed by Karishma Ali of the Fortune Magazine Under 30 fame, and Karighar by AKDN in Gilgit and Hunza, made it possible for the work of local artisans to be exchanged successfully. These women have taken their centuries-old tradition and have hand embroidered over 300 meters of typical floral motifs in chain stitch for Stella Jean’s collection.
In a show of extraordinary human cooperation, the embroidered garments have then been assembled by Italian artisan seamstresses. The collection represents a virtual Laboratory of Nations, that has joined the traditional artisanal skills of Pakistan with that of Italy, and created a connection of women who are thousands of miles apart but have one common goal; caring for and preserving an endangered global cultural heritage.
The collection also includes the truck art design which has been made by truck artists in Lahore under the artistic supervision of Professor Mazhar Rizvi, Head of Department of the National College of Arts-Lahore. In addition to that, Stella Jean will also be sporting exquisitely hand-crafted jewelry by Pakistan’s leading designer Sherezad for the prestigious Green Carpet Fashion Gala Award.
Another exciting aspect of this whole collaboration is that Stella Jean is also providing a platform for the Pakistan fashion industry to make its mark at the prestigious fashion event. Stella has invited two top Pakistani models, Mushk Kaleem and Alicia Khan, to join international models on Milan runway, all of which was made possible by Zahir Rahimtoola.
We’ll be looking out for how fabulous our girls on the runway, and the workmanship of our girls from Kalash, look in one of the world’s most fashionable spaces, Milan.
- The featured is from Stella Jean’s SS’18 showcase at Milan Fashion Week