Does bridal wear merit a fashion week? The best bridals are essentially timeless whereas fashion weeks should be about trendsetting, innovation and artistic vision.
There’s no doubt that there are trends in bridal wear — long shirts versus short, farshis versus lenghas, deep colours versus pale and much more. Beyond this, times have changed. Bridal joras no longer need to overpower the brides, and brides no longer hide under heavy dupattas. They want to make a statement with their joras and enjoy being the centre of attention. Every bride wants to look unique and dreams of a jora that reflects her personality.
We have some truly outstanding bridal wear designers in Pakistan and having a bridal showcase is important. Fashion lovers shouldn’t have to depend on glimpses of other people’s weddings and doing a round of designers to get a feel for where the industry is. PFDC L’oreal Paris Bridal Week (PLBW) is arguably the most credible bridal fashion week in Pakistan and expectations were high for this year’s event.
Like most Pakistani weddings, PLBW 2013 was extravagant, lavish and invariably way behind schedule. We saw some of the best of Pakistani bridal wear but there was also plenty of self-indulgence, grandstanding and banality too.
Asifa & Nabeel, SanaSafinaz and Misha Lakhani
Some of the best shows were truly outstanding. Kamiar Rokni, Elan, HSY, Misha Lakhani and SanaSafinaz all crafted awe-inspiring collections. Each of these talented designers has a unique design sensibility and they put together wildly beautiful shows that reflected a strong creative vision. Sania Maskatiya also deserves a mention for an excellent bridal debut that was one of the most innovative collections of PLBW.
Some other talented designers played it a little too safe. Zara Shahjahan opened with some inspired outfits based on prints but then chose to show more traditional ensembles. Nickie Nina had an interesting concept and some lovely outfits but somehow failed to take that extra step towards brilliance. Others such as Asifa & Nabeel simply showed strong commercial collections — wearable bridal wear that will sell well.
It’s great to make pretty bridals but designers should re-think the idea of putting conventional jora after jora onto the ramp — it quickly gets tedious. Styling and vision is paramount. Kamiar Rokni’s Rohit Bal-esque show was a case in point. It was a fabulous example of how ramp shows should be done. I’m sure Kami will re-style elements of those joras into more orthodox ensembles for his customers but he didn’t let commercial considerations interfere with his artistic vision. A ramp collection should challenge the viewer, although this doesn’t mean relying on props.
Many designers do understand the need for a dramatic show but overcompensate with props and gimmicks. PLBW saw everything from Salman Khan doppelgangers to celebrity showstoppers. Props ranged from a huge cage on stage to umbrellas and tea tables. Designers need to be aware that while theatrics can be wonderful for bridal fashion, they shouldn’t overpower the clothes.
There was also glaring disconnect between the length of shows, both in terms of number of outfits and length of show. It would have been better if shows had been closer to a standard length. Fahad Hussayn seemed interminable while Ali Xeeshan would have been better if he’d lost an entire segment. It’s a shame because both Fahad Hussayn and Ali Xeeshan showed some truly stunning pieces that reflected a unique design vision. It would have been wonderful to see a tighter show from both. Nomi Ansari was more successful at balancing drama with a tightly edited collection although his wild use of colour may not be to everyone’s taste.
Overall, the standard was very high although there were two glaring misses. Saai had no place at PLBW as the brand simply could not match the high standards set by other participants. Badly ironed, ill-fitting clothes with hanging threads exacerbated a weak vision that was poorly executed. Sadaf Malaterre, meanwhile, was just at the wrong fashion week. Her fun butterfly lenghas were brilliantly original but her plain gold outfits were simply dull and the entire collection didn’t seem like bridal wear at all. Her style is better suited to a pret week.
Obviously there are several top bridal designers whom we didn’t get to see — some chose not to show this time, while others simply don’t do ramp. These include Bunto Kazmi, Faiza Samee, Shehla Chatoor, Nilofer Shahid, Nida Azwer, Layla Chatoor, Umar Sayeed, Honey Waqar and Dr Haroun. What this bridal week does show is that there are plenty of choices for brides today. Modern, traditional, colourful, ethereal — we have it all. It’s lucky that Pakistani weddings are multi-event affairs given the fabulous choice available.
PLBW should be applauded for giving designers a premium platform to put themselves out there but designers need to remember this is a fashion week not an expo. We expect ramp wear — artistic, impossible and unbelievably beautiful. Style matters.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2013.