Amsterdam seems to have been the place to be this July. Pakistani designers — Faiza Samee, Adnan Pardesy, Sonya Batla, Honey Waqar and Durreshawar Nisar, and retailer Leisure Club, showcased their collections at Amsterdam Fashion Week (AFW) 2013 under the finale segment called Vibrant Pakistan. Spirits Trust Foundation’s Kevin Eric, who is also model Amna Ilyas’s brother-in-law, organised the event. He sought out our designers and arranged an event which showcased what the craftsmen of Pakistan are capable of.
“I was selected after a strict selection procedure,” says Sonya Batla. “I sent four outfits and a synopsis of an older collection along with a preview of what I intended to show at AFW. I didn’t know if I was going to be selected.”
While all the designers and Omar Zaman of Leisure Club raved about the level of professionalism they encountered and the glitch-free event the Dutch put up, here is some insider news on what their experience was like.
Not only do a critical line-up of journalists, bloggers and critics filling the front row, heavily influence international fashion weeks but also the buyers seated across from the journalists. Constantly on the look-out for innovative designs, these are some of the most crucial people designers need to impress.
“Individual consumers approached us with inquiries about potential sales but corporations didn’t,” says Zaman. “To be very honest, they were not expecting anything spectacular to come out of Pakistan and most were astounded by what we showed them.” He adds, “It is too soon for us to expect orders because right now, we just opened a window for them to see what all is out here.”
In their coverage of AFW 2013, Fashion Television’s (Netherlands Chapter) Maandag writes: “Four Pakistani dancers’ traditional choreography — the audience clearly enjoyed this lively introduction to the evening show. We enjoyed the hippie-like, colourful designs by Faiza Samee. It makes me happy. Very happy. And many others around me, too. Print-on-print, floral patterns, as well as stripes and other graphic forms, baggy blouses, dashing trousers with wide legs. All manufactured as graceful and delicate, airy fabrics.”
Honey Waqar has her niche in Pakistan with a cult following admiring her over-the-top embellishments and cuts. But one thing is for sure, the designer is known for adding drama to her work. “I am good at creating drama,” says Waqar. “And they loved it. People were whistling and applauding my collection and that alone was enough for me.” Her designs might not be everyone’s cup of tea but she surely made a mark in Amsterdam.
Upon reviewing Waqar’s Rhythm of Love 2 collection, Maandag writes, “In my eyes, Honey Waqar stole the show. The lavish, theatrical robes of this show have a large shutter glitz and glamour party look. A stylish and traditional way, that is. With highly-refined handicrafts, delicate and luxurious fabrics, Honey Waqar put up an almost royal show, one that radiates beauty and exclusiveness. The combination of flower prints with sequins and glitter is at no time a circus, but retains the status of stylish couture. Whoever dares anything other than Western couturiers, is definitely a winner.”
A Dutch blog itdomegood.com says, “The Vibrant Pakistan show blew me away. Introducing Pakistani fashion designers here in Amsterdam took Amsterdam Fashion Week to a whole new level.”
While Leisure Club showcased its latest collection, Made of Pakistan, which will hit the market next month, Samee showed her prêt line from PDFC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2013, Adnan Pardesy his Axiomatic collection and Sonya Batla showed her S/S 2013.
“It was so exhilarating mingling with international bloggers while also understanding the dynamics of the fashion week,” says Pardesy. “It is obviously not as big as Paris Fashion Week or London Fashion Week but, for us, it was definitely a step up. For me, it was an eye opener.” Pardesy talks about how each model auditions for a show and designers take their pick from about 1,500 models who they feel will be best suited for their collections. “We got to choose from about 50 models which was such a different experience since we could narrow down the models who’d be able to carry the look better.”
Along with these six fashion houses showcasing their work at AFW, Amna Ilyas also walked the ramp. “I absolutely adore Amna and the fantastic thing is that she is helping girls here [in Pakistan] learn how to walk and conduct themselves,” adds Pardesy. “It was great to have her there since she knew how to carry off our clothes in the best possible manner.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2013.
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