Mathira's wardrobe malfunction: Nudity or modernity?
I don't know if the exposure was deliberate, but I do know that there is a market for all things sexy.
“It wasn’t part of the show. It was an accident!” pleaded designer Sanam Chaudhri after the scandalous Mathira fashion faux pas at her showcase on day one of Fashion Pakistan Week.
Chauhdri spoke in Mathira’s defense saying "I felt so bad for her, and she started crying the moment she got off the ramp."
But when something of this nature happens with a personality like Mathira (whose last name is Scandal) people most likely assume that it was deliberate.
Fashion writer and cultural commentator, Mohsin Sayeed, certainly thinks so. “Of course, it was deliberate," he said. “If it wasn’t then why did the top fall at the head of the ramp?”
For Sayeed, the "perfect timing" leads him to intuitively believe that the whole thing was contrived.
“It was very much choreographed and construed. I didn’t see any embarrassment on her face when she walked back, and I have seen several such malfunctions over the course of my career as a fashion writer.”
He cites how super model Aaminah Haq back in the 1990s suffered a similar fate, and three years ago, at the first ever fashion week, model Fayeza Ansari had a rather uncomfortable moment as her dress rode extremely high.
However, former editor for Instep, Fareshteh Aslam, also a front row spectator as Sayeed, feels differently. “I saw her turn around and lift it up. She was taken aback by it.”
The front row can often make one privy to the strangest things so the fashion media has always been unfazed by such incidents.
But to quote Mathira herself, “s*** happens."
The only issue now, as Aslam points out: “There are 80 cameras all wanting a piece of the action instead of one that used to be the norm back in the day.”
Fashion was always conducted with great intimacy amongst a select audience behind closed doors, perhaps in the realisation that pushing any kind of boundaries, be it artistic, cultural, religious, social, or political in a society as dogmatic as ours, must be handled with immense fragility.
And of course, then there’s always that argument that if this is not what people wear, why show it as such.
Few realise that a ramp is a platform for unbridled creativity. It is also an artists’ space to be outrageous. Many of these seemingly outlandish designs are then curbed and tailored to suit the common palette in a form that is accessible to the local market.
Also, a point of contention is that the attire presented is vulgar and ‘not our culture’.
To that I’d like to say, get out of that utopia that you have created for yourself. Every kind of society has every kind of indivdual. I'll relate a story that will explain this.
When I was in Iraq last month, I was embarrassed to see slinky lingerie and tacky mini dresses hung in the local bazaars en route to Hazrat Ali’s shrine. You don’t expect to see such a blatant display of sexuality outside a spiritual shrine. (There is a time and place for things and a shrine certainly isn’t the place for it). Yet, there it was, brazenly out in the open; tank tops and bustiers and clingy dresses.
If there wasn’t a market for these why would they be there in the first place?
The incident reminded me of my early years in Saudi Arabia, a country literally cloaked in conservatism. However, even there, one would see stores glittering full of sexy ball gowns and the likes. The only difference of course is that women would wear them behind closed doors, and there was no proof in terms of public photography or footage capturing what went on behind closed doors.
That does not mean that women in any society have not desired to look sexy and beautiful.
But as society opens up, there is this unrestrained urge to control women’s right to speak, move, work and the most evil of them all - her right to dress.
This is the price that every society has to pay for the onslaught of modernity; for each mega byte of advances in telecommunications and technology, you give up gigabytes of your privacy, even that brittle privacy that you once shared with a small group of like-minded people gets exposed and becomes a battleground for moral debate.
Read more by Hani here, or follow her on Twitter @taha_hani.