There’s a great deal of hope in Pakistani textiles; the varicoloured tradition consistently produces quality from across the provincial spectrum. When conjoined with the country’s fashion scene, these designs undergo rapid evolutions and are moulded according to market trends and contemporary needs. With many brands, what is considered traditional becomes infused with modern sensibilities.
Newcomer Nariman Ja-njua, a graduate from Hun-erkada College of Visual and Performing Arts, believes blending traditional prints with modern cuts is a key philosophy behind Rag Rage — her brand’s debut launch, a timely Eid collection. She’s been at it for a month.
“This is a sneak peek at what we’re all about,” says Janjua at Rag Rage’s hush-hush launch within the 1969 restaurant confines. A strategic choice of location: the veranda outside the restaurant was transformed into an exhibition area, with couches to the side and mannequins positioned in lit corners. One had to pass through the exhibition to enter the place and 1969’s a happening joint, especially at night. Word always travels.
Weaving through guests and models who were wearing key pieces from the collection, Janjua discussed the line’s inspiration: Sindhi-folk embroideries and prints, with additional outfits in Baloch and Punjabi motifs.
Yet it’s not ajrak overkill. The cut of the lawn kurtas is modish and contemporary while the ajrak prints on the collar, karhai and anchor hand-embroideries remain low-key and tasteful. “They’re semi-formal,” says Amna Mawaz, modelling a flattering, knee-length black kurta with groovy, folksy and floral embroideries. Another strength is that the outfit looks versatile enough to be worn beyond religious holidays. Someone in her 20s would look good in it; so would the prototypical auntie.
In fact the versatility, especially when it comes to the colour palette, applies to the entire collection, dominated by neutral shades and beige, caramel and honey tones. Nothing overpowers or overtly screams, ‘Hey! It’s Eid’, with many committing the classic mistake of making their outfits look like Persian rugs — going too far with handicrafts and prints.
But the work here is no less intricate as the collection’s taxonomy isn’t entirely about the cut. Janjua pulled out one beige number and pointed to a swirling pattern bordering the collar in white. “The spirals are handwoven with anchor thread,” she says. The pattern compliments the kurta’s toffee hue, adding complexity to an otherwise homogeneous stretch of toffee-hued lawn. It’s the mix of intricacy and flexibility, and the collection is priced at a competitive market rate — the usual Rs8,000-12,000 you would find at so many local boutiques and retail brand outlets.
However, the positive appraisals from industry representatives and prospective clients justify the price to a certain degree. Local designer Zohra Khokhar of Deeba and Zoe, technically Janjua’s direct market competition, gave a positive review, saying, “There are a few pieces I’d definitely buy.”
Although the brand name Rag Rage — which sounds like a beefed up version of Hot Topic; think ripped shirts smeared with eye-liner prints, chokers, fishnets — gives off a de facto rock vibe and a slightly misleading suggestion of clothes more avant-garde than conservative. The collection, paradoxically, demonstrates a very mature eye for modern interpretations of Eid wear.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2011.