Sufi legend Abida Parveen’s recent commercial venture, known as the Abida Parveen (AP) Gallerie, comes as a bit of a surprise. The artist, revered for her esoteric, God-seeking and soul-searing melodies, has launched a two-floor space to exhibit her own awards, achievements and musical records as well as designer clothing, jewellery and paintings for sale.
Celebrity brands tend to have little input from their patrons, though this is not true of the AP Gallerie. Parveen, who wished to build a space to display her awards and records for fans, contributed to everything from the sizes of the racks in the building, which hold the designer’s garments, to the selection of uniquely mystical calligraphic paintings that breathe in the second-floor gallery.
While the boutique-cum-gallery may be a shift from her music, it is very much in the spirit of mysticism, with paintings that reiterate the search for a greater being. Music from her recorded albums fills ones ears upon entering the modest space with tiled floors and dim lighting and trophies earned over the decades glint behind a glass showcase in what instantly becomes the epicenter of the first floor boutique.
In another small cranny, shelves are lined with more than 20 different recorded albums and old black and white photographs of Parveen performing. Limited collector editions of Parveen’s recordings, such as the upcoming album of ghazals by Faiz Ahmad Faiz that she is set to record in India, are exclusively available at the Gallerie too.
“This was my mother’s brainchild,” explains her daughter, Pereha Ikram, who designs jewellery for the outlet. Diamonds glisten in a display behind her, as she expresses how her fine art background and gemologist-husband lent to her undertaking the craft. Drawn to floral and abstract designs, Pereha’s diamond trinkets are bold and chunky.
The AP Gallerie is also a proud dealer in Prima Gold — a Thailand-based jewellery brand, which is renowned internationally. Somewhat Garrish floral jewellery sets, originally designed by Prima Gold for royalty in Thailand, Oman, Muskat and the likes, therefore taking the name “princess set” stand out because of their marked difference from traditional Pakistani jewellery.
With over 19 different clothing designers, the gallery offers a generous selection of casual, formal and party-wear and if one were to ever ponder over Parveen’s fashion aesthetic, one would probably bet on the word ‘bold’, as is the case with the designers on display. Among the more tasteful clothing lines is Asim Jofa’s, with classy silks in subdued colours and unique cuts, within the Rs15,000 price range. According to Parveen’s other daughter, Maryam Hussain, who looks after the boutique section, the brand Zahabiya with its semi-formal line in striking colours, cheetah prints and varying fabrics, has the most turnover. As part of Christmas and New Years promotion, all clothing and jewellery items are marked between five to 10 per cent off.
Menswear, though not as popular, is also displayed next to the art gallery and though trendy, seems impractical, including brands such as Deepak & Fahad and Emraan Rajput. Kurtas and short corduroy coats in bright yellows, oranges and green line the racks and range from Rs4,500 to Rs40,000.
The best feature of the AP Gallerie is the art, though one would not expect it. Calligraphies, some understated and others with a vivid presence, are on show in a small atrium diffused in natural light pouring in from an uncovered window. Big names such as Hanif Ramay, Arif Khan, Zawar Hussain and Mashkoor Raza display their works at the gallery, were Parveen vigorously selects the work, on display, to her taste.
The most powerful part of the display, however, is undoubtedly the work of a National College of Arts graduate Mudassir Manzoor, whose miniature figures relay the human quest for spirituality.
With no shortage of multi-label stores in the city, the AP Gallerie, is banking on its elitist appeal to bring in more customers. While the stock in the store isn’t any different or superior from what is available elsewhere, the real essence of this gallery is the aura of Abida Parveen. Each corner is populated with her memorabilia and private collections, evoking a sense of Sufi-ism in even the most commercial of places.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2012.
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