The month of April has brought a fashion tsunami for the fashion conscious lot in Pakistan. Every weekend has been slotted for a fashion event and there’s been headlong bumper to bumper traffic this month, all thanks to gung-ho fashion lovers flocking to venues to witness this ongoing fashion outburst. With Rizwan Beyg’s Showcase in Karachi, followed by the Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi, then the Islamabad Fashion Week in the capital and now the king of all fashion events, PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week in Lahore, which is running simultaneously with Pantene Bridal Couture Week in Karachi, it would be an understatement to say that Pakistani fashion has arrived.
Divided we stand
On one hand the Lahore vs Karachi dynamics, that one felt was brewing in the design community, has become more apparent than ever with Catwalk Productions no longer handling PFDC like they used to every year. Instead, the design powerhouse and showman, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin will be calling the shots this year.
PFDC has gone Lahore-centric this time around. Everyone participating in the fashion event — from production, to talent and the entire team — is from the culture-dominated city. So much so that instead of the ever-dependable Saba Ansari of Sabs from Karachi (who’s doing Pantene BCW), even the make-up artists — Tony and Guy, Maram and Aabroo and Khawar Riaz — are all Lahore-based.
“It’s a huge shift for PFDC and the council is aiming for more self-sufficiency now,” asserts Yasin, not only as the official spokesperson for the PFDC, but now as the director of the shows as well. This change of guard has ruffled many feathers in the fashion fraternity, with many asserting that HSY’s job as a spokesperson and the director may invite some bias into the event. “Does anyone turn to Tom Ford and say that because he’s a designer he can’t make films? Why should any creative individual stick to one genre of work when they are multifaceted human beings,” Yasin retorts to the accusations.
The dream team
PFDC has utilised talent from its own pool to create an exciting line-up that is a balanced mixture of young and experienced designers: the eccentric Ali Xeeshan and Fahad Hussayn will handle the accessories for the show, Kamiar Rokni, with his management skills will ensure all goes well backstage, while Maheen Kardar, Akif and Mohsin Ali will take care of logistics and operations.
The council has also managed to achieve international presence by showcasing in Paris last year and this year, they are hoping live streaming will reach out to greater number of audiences both local and abroad.
From a business standpoint, the CEO of PFDC Saad Ali promises international collaborations with relevant industries that the council will announce at the fashion week. “As we keep strengthening our own position, we keep gaining investors’ confidence. As a result, more and more people are approaching us to become partners in the company,” he said. Yasin confirms that so far nine designers have already met with buyers. “These people do not operate like local stores they are essentially stockists. These buyers have put cash in our hands and said now go ahead and produce,” Yasin explains.
According to Ali, PFDC has buyers in markets like Afghanistan, Australia and Dubai. Hence to cater to this growing demand, the council will be expanding its retail presence to Karachi’s Dolmen City Mall and will continue to provide two annual scholarships to aspiring Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design (PIFD) students. “Our new addition has been our bridal week. So from now on, our fashion weeks will be pret-oriented and the bridal weeks will cater to couture,” says Ali.
While last spring, the PFDC managed to get the celebrated fashion journalist Hilary Alexander from the UK, this spring they have Jessica Bumpus — Fashion Features Editor of Vogue.com — who will be posting pictures live.
Top designers at the 5th PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week
1. Nikkie Nina
4. Mohsin Ali
5. Akif Mehmood
6. Fahad Hussayn
7. Ammar Belal
9. Fnk Asia
10. Ali Xeeshan
11. Sadaf Malatere
12. Sania Maskatiya
13. Zara Shahjehan
14. Kamiar Rokni
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2012.