Bringing couture to an art gallery

Budding designer Natasha Kamal uses art gallery as her exhibition space.

Momina Sibtain May 27, 2014
Natasha uses butterflies in the installation for a dress with leaves and flowers embroidered. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


The concept of displaying clothes in the form of installations is not a new one. Internationally, multiple established design houses have displayed their vintage collections at museums. In Pakistan, clothes exhibitions usually follow a similar pattern; they’re either displayed at the designer’s house or at a multi-label store. Pushing boundaries, new kid on the block Natasha Kamal has used Ejaz Art Gallery as her exhibition space.

What was gripping about the show was the way the clothes were displayed. Each luxury prêt outfit had a personalised installation, which allowed the viewer to get up-close and see the detailing of the clothes. She constructed the installations herself out of materials such as polystyrene and metal, among other materials. “I just felt that people cannot see the clothes properly or understand the cuts if they are displayed on hangers,” says Natasha. “Hence, I decided to use mannequins instead, so as to aid people in understanding the concept.”

A Royal Holloway University graduate who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management and Accounting, Natasha made a career shift eight months into her job. The fact that a diverse set of design aesthetics keep surfacing in the fashion industry particularly drew her attention towards it. She shares her own fashion aesthetic: “I like to focus on silhouettes, structure and play with drapes,” she says.

“I like very subtle designs and used to make my own clothes for weddings,” she shares. Complementing her personal taste, her collection is understated and mainly comprises lighter and earthy tones. She uses zardozi, gotta and crystal gradation as the main embellishments on her outfits.

From art deco to Turkish motifs, the design palette is well thought out. In her Eastern line, the most interesting piece would have to be the Bottega Venetta-inspired weave made out of gotta. The simplicity of the blouse was the most attractive part of it.

Perhaps, it will take the young designer a little more time to get her bearings and streamline her collection, but the unique showcase and subtlety of the collection are worthy of commendation. “The idea behind the installations was to use all the tools in the workshop and incorporate them into the exhibit,” she says.

From installations of spools of thread to enlarged scissors, outfits that have no embellishment were installed in the space, signifying the core material used in the construction of the particular garment. “The idea was to see what was going on in the clothes and translate it into the installation.

One would also see influences of surreal art in the art deco installation. “The dress in question has leaves and flowers embroidered on it and hence I used butterflies in the installation to make it seem as if the butterflies are coming out of the dress and onto the canvas.”

Natasha has focused on providing an eccentric experience to her clients that will hopefully pave the way for more innovative ways of exhibiting fashion designs.

Natasha’s collection has recently created a stir. There is a striking resemblance between her piece and one by designer Zuhair Murad. According to Natasha, this was meant to be a ‘tribute’ piece. There is a fine line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘plagiarism’. We think that if a piece is intended to be a tribute, it should be named as such.

PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/thestylejournal_

Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2014.

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