It’s been an intense fortnight of fashion with the Showcase having ended last weekend only to herald in Fashion Pakistan Week 2012 this weekend. And while the Showcase made no claims of gaining an edge over other fashion platforms for ‘content’, FP certainly did announce a theme: high street.
With FP founding member, the elusive Rubina also known as Bunto Kazmi making a guest appearance to open the week, the council certainly pulled a coup.
In the first two days of Fashion Pakistan Week 2012, one saw an odd mix of traditionally opulent ensembles and pret-savvy collections. While Bunto Kazmi, Umar Sayeed, and Kuki Concepts remained true to classic heritage that belonged more to a bridal platform than a fashion week, Sanam Chaudhri, Maheen Khan, Shehla Chatoor and Next presented collections that could be slotted as high street fashion.
A textile graduate of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS), Sanam Chaudhry decided to go the Stella McCartney way and have fun with sporty fashion. The audacity of the collection was best exemplified by her show opener: the sizzling and contentious Mathira. Akin to Pakistan’s sultry siren, the collection was loud, audacious and very much out there with its neon colour palette and gusty ‘devil-may-care’ attitude. Rompers, shift dresses, cat eye sleeves and jumpsuits made Chaudhry’s collection not only fun to watch, but a must-pick for a fashion forward summer.
True to her sense of style, Maheen Khan presented an effortlessly chic collection of plain kameezes with gentle frills that was simple yet sensual. Immaculately cut and artlessly constructed, each piece glided on the ramp secure in the knowledge that it needs no embellishment for effect or glory. Khan has the unique ability to give a certain life and movement to the fabric and in garments sans any embellishment.
While Bunto is widely acclaimed to be the Queen of Couture, her show was very much an extension of herself: restrained and regal. Hence, people who were expecting drum rolls or fireworks at Bunto’s show, were sorely disappointed. A ramp can’t do justice to a brand that prides itself on intricate craftsmanship that requires close appraisal. From classic sherwani front-open coats with aizars in intricate embellishments like vasli and kursi ki jaali, an heirloom of chundhri and fine maroori to a version of the ivory ensemble that Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy wore to the Oscars, the collection was fit for royalty.
Lauded heavily for his bridals, Sayeed couldn’t resist delving into his signature black, cream and pink colour palette of heavily worked kameezes. He started off with his ‘Umar Sayeed Light’ line that was a showcase of printed palazzos with solid bold flowing shirts in turquoise, fuchsia and plum that could easily be deconstructed as separates for a vibrant spring wardrobe. A jumpsuit with a twisted back in monochrome with hints of yellow was spot on, but throwing in his old pieces from previous bridal collections took away from what could have been a conceptually strong collection.
Shehla Chatoor is perhaps the only Pakistani designer to have the foresight to design her own logo and then use it liberally and creatively throughout her pieces. The designer wowed fashionistas with her uber sexy ‘Spring Equinox’ collection that was styled and presented in her signature style: sophisticated yet sexy. While her attempt to showcase her strength as a traditional eastern designer didn’t quite work, her myriad versions of jumpsuits in solids, Mughal print with metal and leather details and the long tunics/dresses cut just right to reveal a long shapely leg, nailed it.
The opening video at Kuki’s show said it all: this was a collection fixated on heritage and what constitutes an heirloom. Drenched in nostalgia, this collection titled ‘Uns’ (love) was constructed entirely in heritage fabric culled from Kuki’s own family. Devoid of embellishments, this line of traditional clothing: rani coats, kaftans, jackets and sherwanis, demonstrated Kuki’s prowess in terms of construction and his ability to create regalia out of an ancient fabric.
Jeans, rolled up trousers, checked shirts, jumpsuit, printed tops and an array of formal men’s suits accessorised with a range of handbags, shoes and hats for your regular Joe and Jane were presented as options for a grueling summer.
Indeed it was the child models, the little girl with a hat, a boy clutching a skateboard, or the cool young stud with aviators who were the highlight of the show. This collection was fashion at its most relevant best and clothing that you could go straight from the show and get off the racks; which is precisely what high street fashion is all about.
Fashion faux pas
Designers that didn’t make a mark were Sanam Agha, Ayesha Hashwani, Pinx, Arsalan Yahseer, Ayesha-Somaya and Tayyab Bombal. While Agha and Hashwani aren’t new to the game, their aesthetics need to be evolved to a point where they can present something unique along with their own sense of design. The rest still need guidance on getting the basics of design and tailoring right.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2012.
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