Gulabo finds a new home

Published: September 4, 2010
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Models strike poses in the live window display at the store opening.

Models strike poses in the live window display at the store opening.

Frieha Altaf in a Ritu Kumar top with beads by Sadaf Malaterre. Accessory designer Mahin Hussain sports her new bag. Truck art-inspired clutches and wallets are part of Gulabo’s range of accessories. Models strike poses in the live window display at the store opening.

KARACHI: Talk of the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan, idle gossip and the mutual admiration society (‘dahling, have you lost weight?’ and ‘I don’t even have a stylist!’) dominated the opening of Gulabo’s flagship store at Park Towers.

On Thursday afternoon, the mall was full of women, clutching the bright yellow invitations, trying to find the store which was packed with models, designers and socialites. One spotted Deepak Perwani, Ayesha F Hashwani, Abdus Samad, Mahin Hussain and the woman of the afternoon — Maheen Khan. Ayesha Omar, Rukaiya Adamjee and Sultana Siddiqui flitted around as women tried out clothes, bought the Rs50 bags (proceeds of which go to flood relief efforts) and admired the live window display of models attired in Gulabo designs and accessories.

Maheen Khan’s retail brand Gulabo, which credits itself with introducing truck art motifs into high street wear, remains the designer’s sole focus at the present. She closed down her shop earlier this year, and is currently a consultant for the Nishat textile brand. Khan, who admonished a reporter who asked her if Gulabo only catered to teenagers with, “I’m not a teenager, I’m wearing a Gulabo shirt!”, told The Express Tribune that she opened the flagship store not just because she was ready for it but because “I finally have the money! It is very easy for people to say you should do solo shows, etc, but it all comes down to economics.”

According to Khan, she decided to focus on Gulabo “because my kids said that they wanted to take it forward, and I agreed on the condition that I would only focus on design. And I’m enjoying it so much! With demi-couture you spend so much time on one outfit, draping chiffon and pinning it … it takes ages.”

According to the designer, the line, which is priced between Rs2,500 and R5,000 is affordable keeping in mind the increased costs of fabric, production and high electricity and fuel bills.

The Gulabo team also includes three students from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture — a school Khan has often hired from – and she credits them with the fun elements of the collection. “They’re the ones who add all the little details!”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2010.

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