Fashion 2011: Here to stay or totally passé?

From graphic patterns to jumpsuits, here's looking back at the fashion trends of 2011.

Laleen Khan January 02, 2012
2011 was a year of ups and downs. The year saw everything from international change (the youthful, high-tech Arab Spring modernised the word ‘revolution’) to tacky commercial publicity stunts (we’re used to seeing near-naked Bollywood starlets grace our screens, but Veena in her birthday suit was a novelty across the border).

We were jolted by the demise of larger-than-life personalities like Elizabeth Taylor, Steve Jobs and the infamous bin Laden. And from the glitzy pinnacle of the Royal wedding down to the fall of the Murdochian empire and unprecedented urban riots, the city of London experienced a roller coaster ride of its own.

The world of fashion saw John Galliano’s disgrace from Dior and Sarah Burton’s meteoric rise at Alexander McQueen. Here in Pakistan, everybody and their neighbours seemed to jump onto the lawn bandwagon, resulting in a frenzied exhibition pandemic. In the meantime, couturiers have doubled and even tripled their prices from preceding years, while ready-to-wear labels struggle to remain competitively priced.

While some of this past year’s fashion trends were aesthetically innovative, others seemed like regurgitated relics from the past. And then there were those that never caught on in Pakistan in the first place.

Here’s a look back at 2011, the year in style:

Here for now:

  • Playful bags: Cross-body bags, statement clutches, carryalls with discreet logos, wristlet party bags, colour blocking and (both faux and genuine) snakeskin.

  • Body-con cuts: Last year’s maternity gowns have been replaced by a more body-conscious A-line gown style, while mullet hemlines that are shorter in the front are a smart alternative to trailing, bedraggled hemlines.

  • High waistlines: The opposite of low-waisted bum-skimming jeans, their ladylike high waisted versions come in skinny or wide legged 40s styles.

  • 60s MOD: Retro colour blocking was on international runways and the highstreets. Domestically, it featured prominently in Kamiar Rokni’s reasonably priced ready-to-wear shifts and wraparound dresses (unfortunately without the funky runway leggings).

  • 90s materials: From wedding gowns to sleeves, backs and bodices, lace has made a huge comeback. Net is also big this season. Comebacks from the nineties are great as long as they don’t include atrocious organza.

  • Sideswept hair: The perennial poker straight look has finally been replaced by dramatic side parts, with large tongs used to create soft waves, or hair loosely braided over one shoulder. This parting is ‘hair’ to stay, even though salons tend to translate the soft, wavy look into a stiff, hairsprayed version.

  • Matte embroidery: Sophisticated, intricate embroidery on everything from lawn to silk makes Swarovskis and ganga-jamna threadwork seem overdone, especially in the summer. 

Here to stay:

  • Luxe for less: Recession-istas glimmer in faux jewelry made of semi-precious gems and Swarovskis in gold plated settings. Designer-labelled highstreet brands (Missoni for Target, Versace for H&M), are also here to stay (at least until the global economy improves) and sell out within hours.

  • Rich colours: Coral, emerald, antique gold, purple; we use every colour in the rainbow anyway so the colours of the year were no biggie here.

  • Graphic patterns: In a country where florals and paisleys run havoc among textile designs, trends like polka dots and horizontal stripes are just not as eye catching as they are in most foreign countries.

  • Lips that pop: Pigment-rich fuchsia and scarlet shades defeated the perpetual nude shades, enhanced with lip venom (or collagen) when needed.

  • Statement pieces: Whether it’s an oversized clutch, or shoes that intentionally clash with the rest of your outfit, or separates in different textures, distinctive looks may be achieved in various ways.

  • Platform pumps: These four (and beyond)-inchers remained super hot on the shelves and the red carpet, particularly the patent beige variety favoured by Duchess Kate (and her LK Bennet faves). She’s also helped bring lower heels in fashion for women under 60 (phew).

  • Heavy liner: Kate Middleton (once again), Elizabeth Hurley, Chanel’s ‘Paris to Bombay’ themed Metiers D’Art fashion show, have all brought our kind of dramatic black eyeliner in fashion but here, it’ll never go out of style.

  • Tunics: Now that we’ve sampled the practicalities of wearing outfits long enough to cover our derrières so we can get away with skimpier lowers, we aren’t going to give them up very easily (or are we?).

  • Hair extensions: These are painstaking, yet convenient means of adding length and volume to tired tresses, or a dash of pizzazz (pink extensions, anyone?).

  • Tailored coats: The addition of coats as an alternative to meager cardigans and voluminous shawls are a long awaited necessity to the Pakistani fashion scene.

  • Full sleeves: There’s definite long-term potential for full sleeves, particularly for winter collections.

Lukewarm but thriving:

  • Skinny jeans

  • Stretchy churidars

  • Leggings and jeggings

  • Ballet flats

  • Elbow length sleeves

  • Goth nails

  • Gaga shoulders

  • Sequins

  • Batwing sleeves

Re-returning (or did they ever leave?):

  • Kaftans

  • Knee-high boots

  • Bangs

  • Pearls

  • Stilettos

  • Cheetah prints

  • Wedge heels

Passé (RIP):

  • Jumpsuits (stop making them already, they were in fashion over three years ago)

  • Boxy kurtas (universally unflattering)

  • Halters (especially in the winter)

  • Mutton sleeves (schoolmarmish)

  • The Pob (Posh Bob, ie Victoria ‘Posh Spice’ Beckam’s angled bob)

  • Gladiators (and it’s about time)

  • Thigh-high boots

Alien to Pakistan (for mostly obvious reasons):

  • Exposed zippers

  • Bodysuits

  • Bandage dresses

  • Fedoras

  • Single thigh-high slit in long gowns

  • Metallic fabric

  • Cutouts in body-con dresses

  • Fur gilets

  • Surfer-girl bed-hair

  • Loose chignons

  • Short shorts

Trend alert for 2012:

  • Shorter hemlines

  • Mary Jane heels & lace-up heels

  • 70s style kick-flare jeans

  • 40s glamour

  • Cropped tops

  • More body-con variations

  • Your guess is as good as mine!

Laleen Khan An international columnist and media consultant who Tweets @laaleen
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.