For women, summer in Pakistan means only one thing: lawn. However, ever since designers stepped into the game, lawn has transcended from the ordinary, comfort staple that it was once considered.
Last year one saw extra fabric for personal styling, patterned and embroidered edges, bands and necks that transformed lawn from regular casual day wear to an ensemble that can easily work as smart casual to sophisticated evening wear depending on how one accessorises the outfit.
The success that lawn’s metamorphosis saw can be gauged by the phenomenal sensation that Sana Safinaz’s exhibits caused with nearly 10,000 pieces sold within an hour of sale. This year promises to be bigger and better with the fashion industry’s brightest and most coveted high end courtiers like Umar Sayeed, HSY and Nomi Ansari who have not only taken up the ante with their advent into the lawn game this summer but also promise immense variety in their prints. Additionally, rumour has it that Khaadi, Faiza Samee, Shamaeel and Deepak Perwani will also be launching their lawn collections so it’s safe to say that the summer of 2011 will be a battle of epic proportions.
“Lawn is a significant extension of pret,” says Hasan Sheheryar Yasin, a designer who truly understands what it means to construct and be a ‘brand’. Although Sana Safinaz had been in the market for 12 years producing high quality lawn with reputed textile mills, the hype and hysteria followed only after the requisite branding mechanisms were in place.
For those who cannot afford the exorbitant ensembles of couture designers like Yasin, Sana Safinaz and Sayeed, lawn is their best bet of owning a piece of the coveted brand and feel a part of this exclusive fashion coterie.
A true designer’s hallmark is his signature design aesthetic and a mass product like lawn allows for a brand’s dissemination without diluting its image. Interestingly enough, designers like Yasin and Nomi Ansari, for instance, are not teaming up with any textile mill but are producing and managing their own lawn projects. “I want to do what I want to do without having to feel pressured by a corporation’s demands that may not suit my brand image,” says Ansari.
On the other hand, Saeed has chosen the traditional route and worked in alliance with textile empire Al Karam. “I don’t have that kind of money to go into production alone,” responds Saeed candidly. “Al Karam is providing me with the financial and logistical support that keeps quality checks so I can concentrate on my designs,” said Saeed. “These are prints that can be worn by anyone without any distinction of age and like my couture pieces they will never go out of fashion. The prints are all classic designs and the fabric can be used interchangeably as three separate outfits or as one single ensemble.”
Indeed the whole purpose of designer lawn from the fashion stand point is for the designer’s signature to be reflected in the print. “This project is the 10th anniversary of Nomi Ansari as a design house,” beams Ansari. There are about 13 designs in which he is offering 6 to 8 colours per design and each design is named after a perfume such as eternity, eden, oodh and saffron. “I want every category of woman to wear my lawn,” says Ansari.
Similarly even Yasin has come up with an ingenious plan to market his lawn. “Ours is not a standard lawn for everyone across the board. We have three different price points targeting different people,” says Yasin. Always a step ahead, the designerhas also created unisex designs that he says are “masculine for him, but sexy and fun for her”. “We don’t want women clamoring. We want the lawn exhibitions to be convenient as well as fun for them,” says Yasin. “The exhibition of fabric is just a part of our lawn project, we want to do much more with it and you will see a lot more in the next year.”
Another style guru seems to have joined the lawn race — Nadia Hussain. Apart from being a model and an actor, this lady has previously launched her own shoe line and is now set to venture forth into lawn next month. “Wherever I find the opportunity for growth I try to make most of it. Lawn had a big market and I’m doing a capsule collection which will just be launched in Karachi to test the response,” said Hussain.
Titled as the ‘Nadia Hussain Signature Collection’ with the model’s signature stamped at the edge, the lawn features Hussain’s favourite patterns in florals and abstracts in varied palettes ranging from reds to greys. “We wanted to keep every age group and every event, even Muharram, in mind”, explained Hussain. She will be showcasing her collection at the Marriott Hotel during the third week of February. With 15 designs, the aesthetic for the lawn follows the trends of embroidered necks and chiffon dupattas.
It seems that the element of exhibition is strong this year for all designers. With such meticulous planning, one expects that lawn exhibitions and sales will be as creatively managed and executed as fashion week shows.
Even Ansari, who is known for his psychedelic and artistic shows, assures that his event will be a great fashion experience: “I want to do something inspirational so people can get ideas of how to efficiently and dexterously use lawn.”
Designers already in the market
Erum and Maheen
Maheen Khan (Nishat)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2011.