Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fashion Extravaganza

The Pakistan Fashion Week, organised by the PFDC was held from November 10th to 13th at Karachi Country & Golf Club. Boasting 24 designers over the course of four exciting days that never lacked the element of surprise, it featured the cream of the design industry.

Day 1:
Whatever else it may have lacked, the fashion-week opener – Nickie n Nina collection – lacked no splendour. In the courtier-like language of gorgeous brocades and plush bodices, the collection spoke of all the grandeur of the Arabian Nights courtesy of the beautiful colour combinations and intricate gilt and bronze embroidery.

The whirling dervish at the beginning, and the funny Fez caps too, didn’t do any harm to the luring aura of glorious mystery. Hadiqa Kiyani, the showstopper here, was dressed more as ringmaster than anything – boldly feminine, but nevertheless, a ringmaster.

Competing with the magnificence of Nickie n Nina was a tough call on the night. That might have been the reason why Saai failed to make much of an impact, though among the plethora of short skirts – layered fabrics and woven jute-like – and knee-length dresses a few did have a distinguished panache about them.

Next up was new-comer Akif Mehmood who took cultural inspiration to a whole new level. On the ramp the bold thread-work, accentuated flares and contemporary cuts constituting his collection – inspired from the Kailasha peoples of Kafiristan – was appreciated by all and sundry.
Sublime by Sara featured boldly flaring black dress worked simply in gold.
The second newcomer, Mohsin Ali, exhibited a collection of bold motifs inspired from the Hazara tribe. The night ended with a concert by Fusion, and a charity collection worked on by 40 designers.

Day 2:
Nida Azwer’s line was inspired by Chinese patterns. With its bright colours it was supposed to be connotative of positive energy and a vibrant celebration of the human essence radiating the same.

The PIFD students too exhibited a set of pieces. The show-stopper walked onto the ramp enclosed in what was virtually a ball. It opened out to reveal a beautiful long dress.

Élan by Khadija lived up to its name and more. With shaded silks in sophisticated neutrals – long flowing dresses that included one in black chiffon – it was way past regal: it was ravishing. For once the ensembles seemed compellingly perfect.

Though Zara Shahjahan’s 60’s-inspired collection – replete with long braids and glass bangles – may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, it boldly represented that era in fashion.

The Muse collection focused on flowing, sheeny cloth. The cuts were simple; long skirts and blouses, and flowing pants and dresses gathered at the waist almost jumper-like.

To say that the Libas collection in its pristine whites and majestic blacks was a stunner would be a gross understatement. It was absolutely phenomenal from the silky or diaphanous white shirts and gowns worked indigenously in vivid colours, dazzlingly in gold and exquisitely in black. Its ‘dark side’ comprised of contemporary gossamer saris and long shirts, with crimson thrown in for good measure.

Day 3
For a dramatic opening, the eccentric Yousuf Bashir Qureshi recreated Pygmalion this time round. Hiding all, a mannequin-like model mechanised herself onto the ramp swathed in flowing white. The designer arrived in his trademark black luhngi and then, with his deft fingers at their best, YBQ created a stunning neo-Hellenic masterpiece out of near-magical knots.

Splashing the cloth with black paint, he then put his sun-drenched handprint on soulless Pygmalion’s head; a symbolic gesture, but quite unnecessary given the unmistakeable watermark his work bears.

The rest of his show was less breathtaking. His collection was entirely in pale, silky mauve focusing on the cuts; a testament to the phrase ‘elegance with simplicity’.

Republic showcased a male line of stylish suits tailored literally for every mood – from the scholarly to the vacationing to the formal. Essentially elegant, it suffered nothing when the charismatic HSY walked the ramp for the collection!

‘Nayna’ was another pleasure to behold. It was supposed to have made navy the new black, but it succeeded almost as well with dull cobalt! Gorgeous compositions, simple cobalt with bedazzling silver-worked necklines and paisleys, graced the 100-foot ramp. Sensuous navy velvet, coupled with vibrant silk in magenta and deep turquoise absolutely lit it up later.

Fahad Hussayn’s collection was the epitome of grace. Flowing whites – diaphanous and smooth – drowned the senses. Colours like maroon and cerulean occasionally provided foil on the ramp, but white won the day hands down. The collection was a fusion of chic westernised cuts and minimalism, with a traditional Pakistani edge.

Kamiar Rokni exhibited what was undoubtedly the most audacious collection of the event. An outrageous use of colour coupled with motifs like eyes – debatably evil! – and paisleys skydived into a hippie-universe abounding with bell-bottoms, short beach-loving dresses and kurtas. It was positively sated with embroidery – delightful at times and garish at others. However, it was the most original of the lot.

Day 4
Maria B.’s ‘Tribal Militia’ paraded across the ramp armed with guns and military feathers. It was the Wild West with a touch of intense femininity; flowing neutral dresses with tough-looking short jackets. The theme continued into dazzling slim-fitting monochromes with a lacy effect, and intricately worked slim-fitting sleeves. Zeba Bakhtiar showed up in an elegant, silky creation of burnt shades with an ornate black-embroidered hemline.

The TEEJAYS collection was supposedly ‘cotton with a hint of leather’ – typical, one might say in white and pastels. A Bohemian blue kurta over a lehnga-like skirt, long retro shirts and a billowing silky robe pretty much covered the opening collection. Short dresses – striped monochrome and white – created business-like optical illusions.

The only truly elegant piece was a flowing fawn, full-sleeved over one shoulder, over a metallic, gold-dusted wrap-around showing under the bare shoulder.

Sadaf Malaterre exhibited her interpretation of the ‘celebration of life’ in silks, satins and chiffons. Short vibrant dresses, with silk layered both vertically and horizontally, 20s-style. The longer dresses had flowing diagonal stripes of delicious pinks and oranges.

Sobia Nazir’s collection was a delight. Sumptuous mixture of fabrics – brocade-like prints on chiffon, and damask-like velvets – with powerful floral motifs transported the crowd. Stunningly printed chiffons over silk, with necklines etc in dazzling silver; it was the richest, most sophisticated programme of the night.

Ammar Belal’s ‘Concrete Jungle’ was just that.Silver foil – or what looked incredibly like it – and dollar-prints were the call of the day; jeans and tops all decked up with blinding silver. The classiest jacket was, ironically, printed with the dollar-motif.

HSY’s finale, ‘Metamorphosis’, set off as a disappointment, but quickly upped its tempo with black butterflies and elegant dresses. The men’s jackets ranged from velvety to leathery. A sheeny dark grey dress gave a leathern look, while a beautiful printed grey with a poncho caused a bit of a flutter.

An alluring long black dress – a successful fusion of the East and West – was modelled by Nadia… And then Iraj made her presence felt in a dazzling composition, with its embroidery getting ever more intricate towards the hem and turning the black wholly white.

Deepak Perwani too walked the ramp for the multi-talented HSY who, along with Freiha Altaf, choreographed Pakistan’s second PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week.

Overall, though filled with exciting labels, and not without the added glamour of drama, it was a rather humdrum affair as far as fashion was concerned. It got your adrenaline pumping, and oohs and aahs sounded in your head when certain names – Élan, Fahad Hussayn and Sobia Nazir included – walked the ramp. Most of the collections, however, failed to impress.

They were too minimalistic – too much skin, as it were – for one to seriously believe the designers were targeting local markets. PFDC had arranged foreign media coverage, but one wonders if they found anything impressive in what they must routinely see the world over anyway.

However they said they fell in love with Pakistan, which, in this world of wars and bombs, is some small consolation.


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