The sartorial word: A month for fashion

April is all set to be a month for fashion.

April is all set to be a month for fashion.


Bright, sunny and hopefully more peaceful than the previous few weeks (or is that wishful thinking?), April is all set to be a month for fashion.

And no, I don’t mean lawn by fashion. Instead, this is a month when ready-to-wear and bridals will come to the fore and set sartorial trends for the year up ahead. That is, of course, if no bomb blasts or uncontrollable violence are inflicted upon the country in the near future. Here’s a tentative synopsis for the fashionable month ahead, fingers crossed:

Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW)

FPW was supposed to take place in March but was postponed to early April due to the unrest in Karachi. The originally four-day long event has also now shriveled down to two days. And while it’s strange for a ‘week’ to be just for two days, it won’t matter as long as it has groundbreaking, exciting new collections to offer.

Will FPW manage to do so? So far, Fashion Pakistan (FP) executive council members Deepak Perwani, Maheen Khan and Shamaeel Ansari are all showing new collections along with Sana Safinaz (with their soon-to-be-launched pret line), Sania Maskatiya and the youthful, desi-chic Baani D. The list of newer designers is far longer, Deepak & Fahad, Ayesha Hasan, Ishtiaq Afzal Khan along with Arsalan and Yahser, among others. “How will new designers get the chance to learn from their mistakes and improve unless we give them the chance to go under the spotlight and be honestly criticised?” points out FP’s CEO Maheen Khan.

Which is all very well; except that I wish that the division between old and new designers was more balanced out. Collections by newbies are welcome but so are Sanam Chaudhri’s foxy fashion statements, Nomi Ansari’s razzle dazzle, Adnan Pardesy’s artistry and Sonya Batla’s superbly cut silhouettes. All four designers have opted not to show this season while a large number of Karachi-based designer labels who have been part of earlier FPW’s — Shehla Chatoor, Feeha Jamshed, Maheen Karim, Nida Azwer, FnkAsia, Wardha Saleem, Ayesha Hashwani, Tapu Javeri and Misha Lakhani — are showing at the Pakistan Fashion Design Council’s (PFDC) fashion week instead, simply because they want to showcase their pret in Lahore.

With 12-odd shows sandwiched into each day and a not very exciting line-up, FP could still surprise us by putting out well-edited, interesting collections — or else FPW may just turn out to be a long drag.

The PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week

The Lahore-based PFDC’s annual pret-based fashion week is earmarked for the end of April and where earlier the event had primarily featured designers from Lahore, the line-up this year is a mix of some of the country’s best — from Lahore as well as Karachi. Along with the Karachi-based labels I mentioned earlier, the usual long-time PFDC stalwarts are there: HSY, Maria B, Nickie Nina, Yahsir Waheed and Karma. And then there are the younger labels that have also become regular participants in the PFDC’s fashion weeks: Élan, Muse, Khaadi Khaas, Republic, Sublime, Zara Shahjahan and Akif Mehmood among others.

It looks like it’s going to be one heck of a show. Some of the country’s best-known designers are drifting towards the PFDC’s platform because the council has proven its credibility through regular events and a well-organised infrastructure. However, now that the PFDC has more or less established itself, it’s time for the council to spread its wings and fly beyond Lahore — to Karachi, perhaps?

After all, where’s the business sense in having a loyal clientele just in one city? A designer can only bring in big sales — the way Sania Maskatiya does, for example — by having a market all over Pakistan rather than just in one city. (Sania, incidentally, is showing in both FPW and with the PFDC — the more the merrier!) Many of PFDC’s Lahore contingent — designers like Khadijah Shah, Sara Shahid of Sublime and Zara Shahjahan, for instance — should try to strengthen their market in Karachi. The council needs to understand this.

The PFDC had earlier shown in Karachi but lately due to the turmoil in Karachi as well as the logistic complications of bringing a Lahore-based operation to another city it has opted not to. Once the political climate settles down, though, the PFDC should consider making the occasional migration once again. It’s high time that this happens in collaboration with Karachi’s FP council.

Pantene Bridal Couture Week (BCW)

The Hum TV network’s ode to bridals is scheduled for mid-April in Karachi. As always, the event is touted to be featuring an endless array of coiffured and primped dulhans, dressed by a motley crew of designers — the old and the new, the famous and the unknown, from all over the country rather than the one odd city.

The best thing about BCW is that, by repetitively broadcasting the show on television, this fashion week is the best possible advertisement for a couturier. It’s what draws designers from all over to be part of the bi-annual event. The worst thing is that since almost anybody can be part of the show by paying the participating fee, some refreshingly creative bridals get lost in the milieu of mediocrity.

With several years to its credit, BCW needs to step up its game and become more discerning about who is allowed on to the catwalk. It has now built itself to become a show that is avidly followed by brides-to-be, their mothers and every other woman with a penchant for heavy wedding wear. It’s time that the Hum TV network does its duty for fashion and starts editing some of those collections!

And as if three fashion weeks weren’t enough, April is also supposed to mark the opening of Sana Safinaz’s pret stores in Karachi and Lahore, Sania Maskatiya’s flagship store and Fahad Hussayn’s Prodigy outlet in Lahore. Like I said, it’s a month for fashion. And for once, it’s got nothing to do with the hackneyed world of unstitched three-pieces that has been inflicted upon us for the past few weeks!

Maliha Rehman is a fashion and lifestyle journalist with an obsessive, compulsive need to write. Log on for more fashion updates on Twitter @maliharehman.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2013.                

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