With such euphoria, nostalgia and pride in hand. I write my thoughts of my childhood, when my grandmother Shahjahan Begum (who was a Mughal herself) in the year 1983 would often speak to me while about the textile heritage of Pakistan, in her room in Lahore where she sat on her Takht. According to her, “It was difficult to articulate the power of style and fashion through words as style refers to a one’s own particular way of expressing oneself—whether that’s through clothing, writing style, or a style of architecture. An individual expresses themselves through aesthetic choices such as their clothing, accessories, hairstyle, and the way they put an outfit together.” She would often emphasise on individual style which is timeless. Someone who is stylish may not follow fashion trends but they always stay true to their own aesthetic. Individual style is about developing a sense of self rather than simply absorbing trends.
In her wedding which was actually celebrated in Kurnal India, she did not go to some salon for makeup, neither did she go for a haircut, but as women of her time often did, she went through an elaborate beauty ritual consisting of the 16 celebrated rituals (Solah Singhar). Eyebrows were arched symmetrically, kajal or surma was applied to the eyelids, the teeth were whitened with missi. Nath was worn on the nose, studded with diamonds or nauratan was usually gifted to a bride by her husband. Betel leaf was used to redden the lips, sweeten the breath and as a deodorant. Ladies always decorated hands and feet red with mehendi. At that time, the fabric worn by the bride was either Jamawar, Kumkhap or Silks that were often embroidered with gold and silver thread and embellished with laces. To beautify or skin care, ubtan was used. For haircare women applied oil, aloevera pulp and yogurt.
In that era traditional brides wore gharara, a traditional outfit, traditionally worn by women of Pakistan. Ghararas actually originated during the era of the Nawabs. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the gharara were part of the everyday attire among Muslim women of Pakistan. Ghararas were also popular in Pakistan as popular public figures like Fatima Jinnah and Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan wore them. Earlier women wore gharara on regular basis. Although they are no longer worn as an everyday attire, they remain popular as wedding attire among Muslim women in Pakistan.
Another traditional famous outfit in women and men was Angarkha and Chust pajama. Angarkha or Angi, refers to a dress that has an asymmetrical opening in the chest area reaching down to the knees, knotted or secured traditionally by strings worn by men in the partition time wore, especially before the introduction of the 'Kurta'. Its various forms exist till today. Angarkha was predominant in various parts of the country, but while the basic cut remained the same, the style and length varied from region to region. Angarakhas are of the waist-length and knee-length reaching below the knees, both of which can be flared so to appear as either a waist or knee-length frock.
In the 21st century, modern and simpler designs are usually a casual or semi-casual clothing for both the genders. Peshwaz is also worn till date. As a matter of fact, the Achkan and Sherwani are the descendants of Angarkha.
Men traditionally wore long over-lapping coat known as Jama with patka sash tied around on the waist and ‘Pajama’ style pants were worn (leg coverings that gave the English word pajama) under the Jama. A "pagri" (turban) was worn on the head to complete the outfit. Women wore much jewelry including earrings, nose jewelry, necklaces, bangles, belts, and anklets. The jewellery was in a variety made with gold, silver, diamonds, nauratan, kundan and many more.
Pagri styles included Mughal emperor turbans usually had turban ornaments on them. They were made of gold and precious gems such as rubies, diamonds, emeralds and sapphire. The success of the fashion trend lies in the way the society interprets the fashion trend and Judges it. Saree is another outfit, worn in Pakistan till day. There are many styles of wearing a saree. A very traditional ornament Kamarband Challa a sort of a large broach was attached to the saree near the waist. Lehenga choli another very beautiful ensemble is worn till date.
With the invasion of television in the country came a drastic change in the fashion trends and style, where women became more aware of the external environment.
Gradually women shifted to shalwar kameez or kurta with dupatta. Benazir Bhutto was definitely an epitome of style and dignity. Then came the era of Nazia Hasan who wore, very chic clothes which were trendy and elegant. I remember earlier it was just TJs, Generation,Nee Punhal, Noorjehan Bilgrami, Neelofar Shahid and Bunto Kazmi were indeed the most famous designers amongst women. Later the fashion industry flourished with many new talented designers.
I would define fashion as a germ, its catchy, its infectious, it certainly has a lethal appeal and it captures one’s mind according to one’s own environment, beliefs, education and upbringing. It varies from person to person. I feel fashion trends continue to change, meanwhile a society’s values are established and they evolve according to the beliefs and culture that exists in the society. Fashion is a vivid, powerful way of refreshing concept worthy enough to be portrayed for society’s appreciation that makes us even more instinctive. In the society, the individual’s appearance is the ticket to transmit nonverbal communication signals such as possible cues about his or her social stature, values and lifestyle. As Miuccia Prada says, “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.”