Fashion Week: Tribal ties

From New York to Milan, if anyone can rock the tribal trend on the catwalk… it’s us!

Anam Mansuri December 01, 2010

From New York to Milan, if anyone can rock the tribal trend on the catwalk… it’s us! This PFDC fashion week, held in Karachi from the 10th-13th of November, Pakistani designers took the global tribal trend to a whole different local level. Recent fashion school graduate Akif focused on the extravagantly outfitted Kalash tribe from Chitral, while Ali Xeeshan zeroed in on the embellishments that adorn the Sindhi Kohli tribe. Kamiar Rokni plucked his favourite folk crafts and cultural influences from all over Pakistan and released them as one big burst of fabulous colour, and finally, Fahad Hussayn managed to make the Thar Desert’s sun-baked metallic look street chic. Here are some of the best collections, accessories and beauty looks of PFDC Sunsilk fashion week 2010.


The Kalash, or “infidel” tribe, hailing from the Chitral district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have historically been shunned by the country’s more conservative elements — what with their polytheistic beliefs and wine-making. But last week these “siah poshed kaafirs” added some serious oomph to the Land of the Pure’s fashion scene. And it is now safe to declare: Ladies and Gentleman — Tribal is the new black!

Akif approached the Kalash theme earlier this year in Januray when he had to decide what would inspire his final year thesis collection at the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design. Although warned by his professors that the Kalash-inspired look was overdone, Akif was determined to do justice to the vibrant colours and ranges of style he believed the Kalash have to offer. He also decided that authenticity would be the essence of his collection, so he used pretty much the exact same color scheme and embroidery that the Kalash are famous for. He simply added practical summer fabric, such as cottons and linens, and some fun cuts to the mix: “I just wanted it to be a neat clean prêt line with pieces that any girl could pick up and pair with whatever she wanted to.”

Akif’s decision to stay true to the culture probably worked in his favour, since the Kalash style is making waves in fashion trends both locally and abroad. “I didn’t plan to follow any trends when I started, but it all luckily worked in my favour,” Akif explained. “The tribal colours and the loose kaftan look are so in now, and that is exactly how the people of Kalash dress.”

TRIBAL FUNK — Ali Xeeshan

Nobody does desi funk better than Ali Xeeshan. His neon fabrics and psychedelic motifs made us want to slip into one of his flowy kaftans and get jiggy to ‘danay pay dana’ all night long. Besides mastering the art of meshing traditional motif with funky cut and colour, Ali Xeeshan’s real glory lies in his impeccable styling. That is why in the past three fashion weeks Ali Xeeshan was a hit, though critics simultaneously questioned the practical wearability of his clothes. This time, however, Xeeshan impressed them too.

“I didn’t want to use ready made accessories this time, because they had nothing new to offer- so I made everything on my own,” said Xeeshan. Xeeshan used local Sindhi mirror work as inspiration for his jewelry; intricate but cost-effective pieces that accentuated the colour palette of the collection. He used the regular kara as an inspiration for anklets, and used black cloth as the primary material in construction. He also transformed the stacked white bangles worn by the Sindhi local women into sleeves, with white satin and foam sandwiching them together. All in all, Xeeshan produced one of the most impressive collections of the week.

TRIBAL ROCK — Fahad Hussayn

Fahad Hussayn’s collection was fusion at its finest — feminine and gentle white chiffons paired with silver chains and chunky kaam. The same makeup theme caught the audience’s eye as models sporting the rock-desert inspired beauty look strutted down the runway. Ultra matte faces with a hint of brick bronzer, pale lips and dark lined eyes with gigantic metal naths and hoops, and colourful tassles — characteristic of the women of the Thar dessert. The hair was smoothly slicked back into a neat bun and finished the look.

TRIBAL FOLK — Kamiar Rokni

Here is tribal with a twist: Folk. Kamiar Rokni’s ‘Folkistan’ collection, inspired by Pakistani rural motifs and folk crafts has already been labeled the ‘Best collection of Fashion Week’ by critics across the board. In this collection colour exploded to perfection and checkered and striped local fabrics experimented with rounder, even brighter images. Almost every piece that was shown put a smile on the audience’s face.

Rokni himself had a great time designing the collection, particularly with the motifs — “I got really into them especially the one of the parrot,” he said. “I had never used the bird motif before and here the challenge was also how to make the done to death truck-art theme new and fresh.” While Rokni and his design partner Tia Noon had a great time designing the collection, for the first time their workers had a ball too! The tailors and embroiders were excited to work with these local cultural and tribal references: “It was the first time they were working on something they could relate to. They loved it.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2010.


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