The never ending rivalry between the cities of Karachi and Lahore (read: a clash of inflated egos) permeates pretty much every aspect of art and culture. Comparisons between “their payas” and “our fine-dining” have been done and dusted, and the conversation has now turned to something new and exciting. The recently-held PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week saw Lahore get up from its seat for its designers, while Karachi nodded and raved about its own. There were whispers in the crowd about how different each city’s palette and philosophy is when it comes to fashion. The Express Tribune talks to the movers and shakers of the fashion industry about their take on the Karachi-Lahore divide.
For some, it’s all the same
Some designers chose the diplomatic path and preferred not to fuel the fire by refraining from picking sides. Maheen Karim and Misha Lakhani, who recently showed at fashion week, say there is not much difference between the cities when it comes to taste, and that designers are equally strong.
Misha feels the cities provide a great mix. “It’s impossible to generalise because you’re comparing mammoth-sized cities, not villages,” she says.
The designer, whose drapes and sophisticated pieces were a runway hit, believes that cities cannot really define the variations in taste. “I think it comes down to personality type and lifestyle more than city.”
The tale of two different cities
Some experienced designers clearly identified the distinction between the city of lights and the city of culture and heritage.
“It is ‘different strokes for different folks’” says CEO of the multi-designer store Labels. “Karachi being a metropolitan city has a big mix in clothing sensibilities. Having said this, Karachi women tend to go for less ornate clothing relying more on the fit of their garment and their total look.”
More or less drama?
It is often said that Lahori designers play up the drama and enjoy making a statement, while the Karachi fashionistas are criticised for being understated and bland. Shehla Chatoor and HSY give us their verdicts below:
The Karachi-based designer, who is known for her luxury prêt wear, says “I do not believe in a lot of drama. The outfits and accessories are more important. I feel the biggest difference is that Lahore is more opulent and colourful and Karachi is more subdued. They also differ in the way the outfits are embellished.”
“There is no Lahore and Karachi divide when it comes to design,” says Maheen, adding that both cities have talented Western and Eastern wear designers. “Karachi may want less embroidery but it’s more willing to experiment. But I have recently seen that huge change in Lahoris, who enjoy a more universal silhouette.”
Elan’s Khadijah Shah feels that Lahore-based designers have a more classic and traditional take on fashion. “They go to great depths to add detail to their creations but are a little less experimental with regard to silhouettes,” she says. “Karachi is more of a cosmopolitan city and allows designers the opportunity to be more avant-garde with their approach, especially in terms of cuts and silhouettes.”
The brain behind Elan’s success adds, “I do feel that people from Karachi are more comfortable baring skin whereas Lahoris tend to be a bit more conservative.”
The internationally-acclaimed designer, who is known for drama-packed finales at fashion weeks, kept it safe. “Every designer has a different fan following. Some designers are known for their over-the-top statements and unusual theatrics while others are well-known to bring in the crowd and put an amazing show.”
- With its rich culture and deep-rooted heritage, Lahori fashion remains traditional to the core whereas Karachi is heavily influenced from the minimalism of the West.
- Karachi’s aesthetics revolve around innovative cuts and Lahore has a tendency to rely more on embellishments for pizzazz.
- The difference, ultimately, fades when it comes to socialite fashion: the fashion-savvy are always willing to experiment, be it Karachi, Lahore or Timbuktu!
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2013.
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