KARACHI: In an age where women are trying to ward off age like the plague, it was refreshing to see fashion entrepreneurs Ayesha and Somaya of Brands Just Pret take on a whole new concept of a fashion show by luring in successful 40-year-old women to be their models.
The timing couldn’t have been better: smack on the eve of Mother’s Day. The escalators next to the Brands Just Pret store were utilised as a ramp (as is customary at many shows held inside malls) while the area outside the store created an ambience of a tropical island replete with palm tree shades and cane furniture to complement the ‘Cruise Collection’ that was being launched by Ayesha-Somaya.
While one lady from the audience, Nazneen Tariq, wasn’t as taken aback with the concept of using ‘real’ models instead of professional ones, citing Nomi Ansari’s recent show at Fashion Pakistan Week as an example, she was delighted that successful mature women were given a chance to shine on the ramp. Another lady in the audience, Bilquis Ashraf added, “It’s a great idea; especially from a sales point of view. When women like us look at all these fashion shows with young girls on the ramp, it makes us wonder if we can even wear those clothes. To get women closer to our age to model, I feel, is the best way to target our kind of market.”
To be fair, none of these women were your average 40-year-olds. All of them were very well-maintained for their age and could easily give some 20-year-olds a run for their money with their lean body frames. One example is political activist Irum Jalal, who managed a few theatrics while her ‘walk’ down the escalator. While many women at that age would be appalled by such a bold show, Jalal remained unfazed. “Why should I feel hesitant? I am a funky person; this is how I am naturally,” she stated candidly.
Make-up artists, Angie Marshall and Annie of Alle’nora, fashion coordinator Tehmina Khalid, fitness expert Rukhsana Khan and food entrepreneur Shehla Khan of Cafe 9 participated as models for the show. None of these choices, however, were random. “We literally handpicked each one of them,” revealed Somaya. “We need to present Pakistani women in different ways. These women not only look great, they also manage their families and their careers. They’re an inspiration for us all.” One could sense quite a few young women look at this dazzling entourage with envy, wondering if they’d ever look this good at that age.
For the popular Bollywood dance instructor Fehmida Maskatiya, the whole experience was a dream. “Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed as she stepped down. “I can’t tell you how I am feeling. I must be dreaming. In this age when someone approaches you for something like this, it’s a morale boost.”
Interestingly many of these women are not only mothers but some are also grandmothers and to be encouraged to walk the ramp when even a slight wrinkle is shunned upon and quickly covered up with expensive age-defying creams, the show was a good effort in sending out the message for women to embrace themselves as they are.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2012.