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Sunday, 22 November 2009

The fashion industry in Pakistan

The fashion industry in Pakistan, it seems, never puts its feet up for a rest. Barely a week after the Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW) which featured 31 designers in all, a group show was held in Karachi — the Autumn/Winter collections of select designers supported by a cosmetics brand which is beginning to do such shows on a bi-annual basis. The show featured the likes of veterans Faiza Samee and Sonya Battla (both designers showed at FPW), Ayesha Farooq Hashwani and Zara Shahjehan (both of whom showed their debutante collections) and HSY and Saadia Mirza who had flown their collections in from Lahore.
Faiza Samee opened the show with a collection that was inspired by gypsies of the Cholistan region. She followed the current predominant trends of having large shirts over straight short and long pants with extremely loose sleeves. She chose to pair a few of her ensembles with velvet and some of the clothes were bordered with gota and paired with zebra-printed shalwars.
Verdict: The collection was similar to, but not exactly the same, as her collection shown at FPW. Ayesha Tammy Haq, the CEO of FPW seated among the guests, was also wearing a similar Faiza Samee creation so we’d already had a preview of sorts into the collection the designer was going to show. The collection was essentially very colourful, ethnic and traditional. It was a step away from the fully-embroidered shirts that one can spot here and there. Although well-constructed, the concept of the collection in itself wasn’t anything particularly new.
Zara Shahjehan has been stocking at a multi-designer outlet in Karachi for some time now and showed her debutante collection. Focused on the notion that it did not allow a woman to 'let go of her heritage and yet not let it hold her back', the designer stuck to the same trends that are well, everywhere: long, traditional A-line shirts and straight pajamas all shown to the beat of George Michael and Michael Jackson songs.
Verdict: The collection had its very small moments here and there but collectively failed to impress. It didn’t have her signature or a mark that would differentiate her from other designers, perhaps because she is still very young and has a long way to go. Zara Shahjehan played with sheer fabric on the sleeves as well as the shirts that was interesting to see — sheer being one of the current trends making the rounds on a global level. However it must be mentioned here that one piece by the designer, the long pink coat (dubbed “the matrix coat” in local fashion circles) that reached down to the ankles and paired with a gharara was something Hasan Shehryar Yasin (HSY) has already been doing for the past two to three years.
Saadia Mirza, another big name in fashion, showed her collection which was divided into the following sub-sections: vanity, voyage, visage, vintage and vision. This segment might be remembered more for its theatrics perhaps rather than the collection. After the opening model showed the layered, beige/pink mermaid skirt outfit — perhaps the only interesting piece of the collection — who jumped on stage but Faisal Kapadia belting out a popular Strings number.

He was joined by Bilal Maqsood and together throughout the show they sang several hits, including Munn Ka Qarar, Dhaani and Koi Aanay Wala Hai. Was it an attempt to make it look like a Victoria’s Secret fashion show which, in the past, has featured artistes such as Usher and Justin Timberlake? A similar thing had also been done at the first The Musik Awards in 2006 in which Ali Azmat’s performance was accompanied by the showing of a white fashion collection.
Verdict: On a personal note, one has always liked this designer’s creations but I was disappointed by what she showed: her attempt at a Turkish shalwar (a trend that is catching on fast among the fashion community in Pakistan) failed and the finishing on the outfits was such that there was an outfit from which one could clearly see numerous threads dangling loose.
Sonya Battla, as fabulous as she was in FPW less than a week before she showed at this show, still managed to wow all and sundry with her collection. Worked on with traditional pleating and draping, her collection was her attempt at showing an Indo-Pak kimono in which she experimented with architecture and especially the staircase was used as a definite inspiration. From a burst of colour at FPW she moved on to a mostly grey, eventually red, black and then a pale brown, double-shaded dress shown as the finale.
The collection was very geometric in places. There were intricate pleats on the hemlines, collars, throws, and the designer also made use of velvet and sheer fabric. It was a step away from the large flowing garments Sonya has been showing for the past couple of years, and it was interesting to see this more construction-based side of her.
Verdict: Although the pleats — an inspiration from Japanese fans that were a feature of some of the outfits — had already been done by Adnan Pardesy in 2008, Sonya took that trend and presented it entirely in her own fashion perspective.
One designer whose debut had been eagerly awaited by many in the fashion lot was that of Ayesha Farooq Hashwani (AFH). This designer has been maintaining a somewhat low profile for the past year or two while doing a minimum of shoots and not really putting herself out there. That didn’t prevent her from being spotted by local fashion aficionados though and her debutante collection, based on 'confident, subtle, graceful and for the independent woman' did not disappoint in the least.


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