While we have flirted intermittently with the brazen bold prints, polka dots and bell bottom trousers from the 1970s and continue to explore the 80s with oversized tops and tights, it is interesting to note that the current generation of young adults (usually the most fashion savvy) have not yet delved into the 1960s. Were it not for the hugely popular television series, “Mad Men” (which has managed to compete head long with modern day fashion’s most exciting broadcast representation, “Gossip Girl”), one may not have seen this era being resurrected — from our grannies’ closets to the ramp and the racks.
To give credit where it is due, the local fashion scene was quite pre-emptive with Feeha Jamshed trying to bring the gharara back into main stream fashion with her cotton printed variant of this regal classic and a few futuristic spacey pieces last year at the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2. And if one considers space fashion as a hallmark of the 60s, then Adnan Pardesy’s Guggenheim collection was it, while Ammar Belal’s Corporate Resort wear for women with pencil and miniskirts, dresses, high-waist pants and skinny ties were a more obvious interpretation.
The international fashion gurus soon followed — inspired by January Jones and the rest of “Mad Men’s” uber-stylish cast — when Miuccia Prada launched the Autumn Winter 2010 collection hailing the era of bouffant hair and pill-box hats (heavily patronised and gracefully adorned by the uber-chic Jackie Kennedy). The Prada collection had a trickle down effect which was observed recently at the London and Milan fashion weeks with labels like Jean Paul Gautier, Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, Versace, and Victoria Beckham getting into the 60s grove.
The 60s is an era of interesting juxtaposition and contradiction: fitted miniskirts coexist with sack-like shift dresses and full skirts, and this was perhaps the only period where fashion hadn’t courted seriously in a while. What’s more, the mass retail brand Banana Republic called shot gun on the trend and recently launched a capsule collection of 65 pieces with the “Mad Men” logo. When a look transcends from the screen to the ramp to retail, you know it’s made its way into popular culture and will soon scurry its way into your closet as well. The Banana Republic collection has been designed for both genders under the creative guidance of “Mad Men” costume designer Janie Bryant.
With the fashion season kicking off next month (when the country witnesses a swing of fashion weeks launched from every city, counsel and media body), would the 60s, a period considered to be one of immense prosperity and progressive thought in Pakistan make its presence on the ramps? A brand like Republic, already a strong and dependable label for the style-savvy male, is sure to benefit. But let’s see who successfully picks up on the trend in a more eastern aesthetic. Designer Zahra Shahjahan, who pleasantly surprised us all by showcasing an entire collection of shift dresses-cum-kameezes in phulkari with churidars when the entire industry obsessed over longer lengths, may just offer something new this season.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.