2012: A year in fashion

   (Published in Instep, The News on Dec 31st, 2012)

     Like each preceding year, 2012 was another year when the fashion industry experienced tremendous evolution and grew from strength to strength. New players emerged while old ones upped their game; in a bird’s eye view it was a happening year.

Fashion Pakistan Week made a comeback:

     2012 marked the return of Fashion Pakistan Council endorsed Fashion PakistanWeek after a hiatus of two years. FPC, which prides itself for organizing the first ever council sponsored fashion week back in 2009, went a bit astray since then. Departures of several CEOs, lack of organizational structure and the shaky climate of the country pushed the council into hibernation but it finally regrouped this year, brought some order into council business and held a fashion week in April featuring all the bigwigs from Sana Safinaz and Umer Sayeed to Nomi Ansari and Deepak Perwani. The council under its new CEO, Shamaeel Ansari had a second coming in October with the Autumn/Winter edition of the fashion week.

Maheen Khan at FPW 3

Maheen Khan at FPW 3

PFDC opens the gateway to India:

     One of the major happenings of the year was the opening of a PFDC store in Delhi, India. Pakistan Fashion Design Council expanded their PFDC-The Boulevard franchise to India after opening stores in Karachi and Lahore.

 The store conceived in collaboration with Indian fashion entrepreneur Mini Bandra was inaugurated in September with a fashion showcase featuring 18 Pakistani designers. The store not only features PFDC affiliated designers but offers up names like Rizwan Beyg, Sana Safinaz and Ayesha Hashwani as well. Fashion show held at the opening featured Mahira Khan, Qurat-ul-Ain Baloch and Sonya Jehan to bring in the glamour and prestige.

PFDC Boulevard Store in Delhi - Sonya Jehan walking down the runway wearing Nida Azwer at the fashion show in Delhi

PFDC Boulevard Store in Delhi – Sonya Jehan walking down the runway wearing Nida Azwer at the fashion show in Delhi

     PFDC Boulevard, Delhi is a first of its kind venture which has taken Pakistani fashion to a foreign shore and who better to execute this project than PFDC and its super savvy head Sehyr Saigol. The store will present the perfect medium for local designers to present the Pakistani aesthetic that is marginally distinctive from the Indian one in its use of colours, silhouettes and embroideries. And one has to commend the swiftness with which PFDC moved to get a step in as soon as trade avenues opened up.

Sania Maskatiya shows how it’s done:

     While 2011 was the year that saw Sania Maskatiya make an impactful entry into the fashion world with her Dilkash collection, that led to her being labeled as a most promising upcoming designer, 2012 was the year she substantiated her position, took home the Lux Style Award for Luxury Pret and proved she means nothing but business. With collection after collection, despite having a newborn to care for, Sania Maskatiya and her team cracked the perfect formula of fusing signature artistic aesthetic with commercialism. Her fashion forward prints and cutting edge drapes were not only critics’ favourite but her designs were an equally hot retail commodity too.

     Sania Maskatiya – with the aid of her very business savvy brother Umair Tabani, who oversees the business side of her design house – accomplished what not even the established old guns can boast of: she sold what she showcased at fashion weeks. Fashion week collections always made their way onto racks and red carpets, and she achieved mass availability via multi-designer boutiques. All above attributes are very seldom spotted in our fashion industry where more than 50 per cent of the fashion week collections never make their way into retail.

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Feeha Jamshed’s gears up for a massive attack:

     Feeha Jamshed was touted as one of the brightest new name on fashion’s horizon when she first emerged back in 2009. Daughter of Tanveer Jamshed of Teejays, Feeha’s unique fusion pieces, her drapes and cuts could never receive their due appraise and exposure as her work was marred by inconsistency.

    Her sister’s tragic death in 2011 came as a shocking setback; she had to turn down a golden opportunity to show at Pret-A-Porter in Paris. 2012 was the year of return for her, and a sense of melancholy ran deep in the collections she showed at various showcases.

FJ Mass

FJ Mass

     She emerged out of the tragedy stronger than ever and launched her own eponymous label compromising of couture, pret and an affordable FJ Mass line. FJ Mass, consisting of extremely affordable pieces under 5000 rupees, has branched out her creativity on a potentially bigger and commercial scale letting a more varied customer enjoy her designs. Will she keep up this consistency in 2013?

Feeha Jamshed Pret

Feeha Jamshed Pret

 

Online retailing makes a powerful entry:

     While the phenomenon of online shopping is a decade old idea, it wasn’t until 2012 that Pakistan got its very own version of net-a-porter in the form of Labels eStore. It brought all the mainstream big names just a few clicks away from the reach of consumers from North America to Far East.

     One of the biggest hitch that designers faced up until now was the problem of mass availability, it is just not financially feasible for a designer to have a flagship store in more than one or at most two cities of the country, advent of multi-designer houses solved the issue to some extent but even their presence is limited to major cities. Thanks to the digital accession of Labels eStore, designer wear is available to everyone even if they don’t have access to a physical outlet.

      Labels eStore is a first of its kind initiative in Pakistan that offers all kinds of designer wear from fresh off the runway collections to made to order bridal pieces in every corner of the country and abroad via home delivery. Powered by fashion entrepreneur Zahir Rahimtoola – the man behind the multi designer store Labels – the idea of fashion accessibility was brought to a whole new level with Labels eStore.

Fashion blogging becomes the new rage:

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 2012 was the year when fashion bloggers became a force as they tweeted, blogged and made Facebook pages. They covered fashion weeks live from the venues, spotted red carpet trends, updated us minute by minute and made their presence felt loud and clear.  From Fashion Pakistan Week to PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week and PFDC L’Oreal Bridal Week to product launches and collection displays, bloggers were an intrinsic part of fashion affairs as PR agencies realized their online clout and kept them in the loop. It’s a whole new dynamic and one that will get more influential with time as Pakistan catches up with the world.

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PFDC Sunsilk fashion Week S/S, 2012: The Best Looks

      So, the fashion weeks season is still a month or two away from starting and as I am quite bored of this lull surrounding our fashion industry, this lack of any exciting activity     has forced me to share with you best looks and trends from PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week Spring/Summer, 2012 that was held in April this year.

     Since we are on this subject, the news is that PFDC has scaled down its annual activity from 2 to 1 ready-to-wear fashion week per year and instead replaced the Autumn/Winter show with L’Oreal Bridal Couture Week that will be held in October this year. Being a fan and believer in ready-to-wear being the crux of fashion, I am quite disappointed by this news. Besides, Pakistani bridal couture is ethereally beautiful but incredibly boring from a critical point of view.

     Moving back to our topic, here are the looks that had me in absolute awe, these are the looks and trends that are fashion-forward, wearable and represent the exact direction I would wish to see our industry move in. These are the looks that just clicked me and impressed me more than others.

Colour Blocking: The dopatta-less kurti look has been all rage this summer and this Karma tunic has colour blocking done to perfection. Its a perfect summer look for a casual hangout. Just lose the bow and replace pumps with a comfy and stylish but heel-less chappals and you are good to go.

 

Crisp White: I find nothing more stylish and timelessly elegant than a men’s white trouser. You can replace the sheer top with a light hued neutral coloured shirt. Casual sandals complete this HSY look. Though white trousers can totally work for a semi-formal attire too.

 

Sportswear: Crisp, tailored sportswear makes a fashion statement like no other. The v-necked jersey shirt, Pakistan flag polo tee and those lined three-quarter pants in the centre. Ammar Belal upholds his tradition of doing things no one else dares doing. This is fashion forwardness, atleast by Pakistani standards.

 

 

Simple Chicness: Critics weren’t really impressed by her collection but I found it to be absolutely beautiful well-made. This Zara Shahjahan kurta is one of my fav. numbers from her collection. What a smart use of print.

 

Two tone: For all stylish men who aren’t afraid to take risks, this two-tone Fahad Hussayn jacket is perfect amalgam of style and class. Absolutely beautiful!

 

Animal Print: Animal print has become quite a rage among seasoned fashionistas but Muse went an extra mile with an animal embellishment. The dress is sheer elegance and chicness. And polka dots trousers is quite exquisite and an item in itself. Both pieces can be worn as separates.

 

Kitsch: Kitsch is another trend that I would love to see trickling down to the street fashion. This was best collection by Karma ever.

 

Red Carpet Glamour: Okay someone please pack this HSY gown and ship it to all those starlets who turn up at Lux Style Awards in most hideous of the gowns. Why on earth did I not spot this dress on Lux Style Awards Red Carpet?

 

 Summer Cool: Another of my favourite number from Zara Shahjahan collection, bubbly, youthful and stylish as hell.

 

Mixing Prints: Any of these Kamiar Rokni pieces can be worn individually with neutrals too but that floral skirt is a beauty.

 

Colour Corollary: There’s something about these two Karma dresses, especially that kimono, a dress form we don’t see women wearing very often. And that block print on the fist dress is just delish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week, April 2012: Day 3

Karma:

    Karma has gone through such amazing transformation in the recent months, first a stellar PFDC Bridal Week Collection that received humongous praise, followed by a beautiful Lawn collection and now this PSFW collection that had everything from theme down to presentation executed perfectly.

      The collection inspired by children’s author Dr. Seuss’s work was an array of kitsch details, gorgeous prints and dazzling silhouettes. the entire collection came together so beautifully offering everything from gowns and shalwars to kimono dresses and tunics. This collection that has made me a huge fan of Karma and convinced me of Maheen Kardar Ali’s genious. Thumps Up!!

 

Fnk Asia:

    Fnk Asia was a disappointment, built around the feminist movement, the clothes were badly constructed with failed attempts at drapery and layering, the drab and dull colour palette didnt help either. It’s just that Huma Adnan can do better and lets keep in mind, she just showcased at recently concluded Showcase 2012 also and the dismal state of the collection could be attributed to exhaustion and creative saturation.

Hammad ur Rehman:

      Drawing inspiration from Tharparkar district of Sindh and the rich desert culture. The collection started of nicely with the rich colour play, summery hues, sheer undertones and subtle embroidery but as the looks kept coming to runway, the embroidery got heavy and apparently designer relied too much on the cultural references without imparting his touch.

       Overall, it was a beautiful collection with extremely wearable pieces and some articulately constructed dresses with innovative and unconventional forms but its high time that designers start to realize that its time to shed the cultural references and stop playing  the predictable culture card and come up with new innovative ideas and look beyond the boundaries of nationalist themes (truck art, independence day) for inspiration and broaden their horizons.

   

Ali Xeeshan:

     Ali Xeeshan is a designer of proven talent and uncanny potential. With all his previous collection, he has proved strength of his vision, uniqueness of his aesthetic and shown what a maestro he is when it comes to construction. His collection named “Bano Rani” inspired the trials of a women who has gone through highs and lows.

     He opened the show on strong pitch, showing simple kurtas and knee length dresses in vibrant shades of summer and puffy sleeves depicting sheer understated luxe and comfort. The pieces shown were of tremendous quality, had amazing wearability value and were stylish in true Ali Xeeshan sense.

       And while he started on such strong note, he went ricocheting back to his notorious insane, experimental pieces which were equally beautiful and shows the raw talent of the genious that Ali Xee is, I still feel PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week is a trade event, with buyers and press form entire Pakistan and even abroad. As important as it is to stick to your sensibility and not compromising on you aesthetic, designers should understand the importance of showing edited, ready-to-wear clothes that are not only wearable but also cover a designer’s creativity. With business expanding, its high time that these young designers start showing clothes that are wearable and ready-to-wear without compromising on their vision and aesthetic.

 

PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week April, 2012: Day 2

   PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week continued on Day 2 and 3 at Expo Center, Lahore. Quality of presentation was top notch with everything from presentation to choreography done to perfection. HSY who officially announced opening of HSY Event Management handled the choreography and wowed all with his whimsical take on it, the collection presentation simulated by HSY’s choreography turned the entire show into a pleasurable watch. here’s a round up of notable collections:

 Ammar Belal:

    Ammar Belal did what he does best, put on a show. His collection titled “Reunion 2012” was an ode to the high school days, presenting a youthful collection with modern western-wear inspired pieces, the whole show was aided with a choreographed performance with Rihanna blurting out in the background and the dance troupe performing sporting the ABCD labelled pieces. The streak of energy and youthfulness that the collection exuded with the choreography and young students from schools and colleges of Lahore modelling was reciprocated equally in the clothes with a spurt of youthful garments, geometric shapes, slim fitted pants, striped blazers, sporty polos bearing flag of Pakistan, kness lenght pants, all in all it was  a fabulous display of fashion that young and the energetic should be following in 2012.

       Although the collection was smart and Ammar Belal cant be praised enough for his sensibility and fashion forward aesthetic. I still feel if Ammar starts focusing more on  editing and tweeking, its just that almost all the pieces of his collections are wearable and great individual clothes to have in one’s closet but I just feel a little attention on editing will help him appeal more to buyers and clients and help him expand his brand.

Fahad Hussayn:

      The other notable collection of the day was Fahad Hussayn with his collection “Paranoir”. It was an all black and white collection, which happens to be FH’s signature colours. The collection consisted of  lace appliques on saris, colour blocked dresses and geometric patterned skirts.

  

PFDC L’Oreal Bridal Week: Collection Reviews (Day 3)

Ali Xeeshan:

     Ali Xeeshan’s collection was the highlight of Day 3, his collection titled “Pehlgam” drew inspiration from the rich culture of disputed territory of Kashmir. An ethnicity that boasts of rich indigenous traditions and century old norms. The collection comprised of looks reminiscent of traditional Kashmiri bride with a modern day twists to them.

     

      Heavy embroided shawls, lockets bearing name of Allah, a conventional rukhsati under the shadow of Quran, the entire collection was an absolute delight to watch. Ali Xeeshan never let the collection sway into monotony and kept everything beautiful yet innovative and interesting keeping the anticipation level high. It was literally a show with amazing bridal looks and a convincing presentation. Ali X’s collection showed how you get inspired by a theme and an aesthetic and translate it into wearable yet fashion-forward modern day looks. Other designers have a lot to learn from Ali X and Fahad Hussayn’s collections. Ali’s collection might not be commercially most befitting collection but when it comes to trend setting, his was definitely one of the strongest of the entire Bridal Week.

            

   Only off putting aspect of his collection was the tin-foil ghararas that didn’t make much of a sense and he might have over-stepped into the territory of creativity with as you don’t need fashion gimmicks like that when you have such a presentable and delightful collection.

    

But apart from that there was nothing not to love. 

Asifa and Nabeel:

        Asifa and Nabeel didn’t have much to offer, the collection was centred around three colour tones, it started off with the traditional red bridals evolving into navy blue and finally ending on cream-coloured avatars.

   

      They didn’t stay true to their inspirational theme of “Ottoman Royalty”, it was just regular same old bridal bling that we all have seen a zillion times before. The clothes were breathtakingly beautiful but the lack of innovation and fashion-forward looks rendered the entire collection boring and monotonous. There was nothing exciting or never seen before, the only high point of the entire presentation was the performances by youth icons Bilal Khan and Quratulain Baloch that added the much needed excitement and liveliness to the show.

 

Sara Rohale Asghar:

      Its unfair to call Sara Rohale Asghar’s collection a collection, it was just a line of bridal clothes offering beautiful commercially viable outfits. The most basic starting tool of a collection is an inspirational base which in her case was the wedding culture of Pakistan. That quite says it all. She might have gotten the client exposure that she was expecting from the collection but it was definitely not a collection worth a fashion show.

    Josh performed at her show and pumped some life into the show.

Rogue:

     Similar was the case with Rogue. Beautiful garments, nothing ground breaking.

PFDC L’Oreal Bridal Week: Collection Reviews (Day 2)

Fahad Hussayn:

       One of the most promising new designer, Fahad Hussayn known for his gothic sensibility presented the best collection of Day 2, titled “Raat Rakh”, it was a breath taking collection that present looks for weddings of various religions and sensibilities; Parsi, Muslim, Hindu and Nawab. The colour palette mostly remained black and all shades of dark. The looks were mostly vintage Eastern and Bollywood inspired look but not once did he step on the stereotypical interpretation of either. He presented his take on the traditional and the conventional, the colour palette, high running drama and the dark hues, every look of the collection was very Fahad hussayn in nature.

     

    Velvet sleeves, voluminous gharas, intricate details and wide borders were the significant points of the collection. But it was the final two looks walked by Amina Sheikh and Meesha Shafi that had everyone swooning. Sporting heavy blouses, colourful traditional ghararas with dupattas wraped around in orthodox Muslim norm. It was one of the strongest finale look. You don’t need pop singers and TV and film stars to add pizzazz to your finale if you have clothes as visually appealing as Fahad Hussayn’s.

                   

          The only look that set me off were the black menswear kurtas as they seemed too monotonous and have been seen before too many times before.

       But overall, it was definitely one of the best collections of the four day event.

   

Maria B:

          Maria B is a very popular name in high end bridal market and has achieved tremendous commercial success in the this forte She presented a full scale predictably commercial collection, although her collection was crafted using same conventional colours of tea pink, red and sky blue, finesse and construction of her clothes showed why she is so popular in the commercial bridal market.

        It was a flurry of menswear sherwanis and womenswear lehngas and evening dresses. The collection was titled “Paris to Lahore” but it didn’t live up to the title, the Parisian element was missing in her evening dresses nevertheless it did contain some elegantly designed evening wear dresses. Her models sported hats that transitioned from a ‘Philip Tracy’esque style hats to the sub-continental courtesan style topis. Most impressive aspect of her collection was he menswear bridal colour combos and her lucid, flowy evening wear dresses with modern, feminine cuts.

     

        But the collection was conventional and commercial at best and did serve the purpose of strengthening and expanding her traditional clientele but served little on the innovation and non-conventional front.

 

Emraan Rajput:

Not much to say about him. Let the pics do the talking.

      Emraan Rajput in an apparent urge to innovate and bring something new to the table went for some ugly prints of jaamevar, his colour palette was odd and the product was a missed opportunity, his immaturity in design and innovation was palpable through his collection. He was just not ready to present at such a huge platform and his clothes proved a testimony to this fact.

     Once again, the runway was designed by Hamza Tarrar and what an amazing job he did.

PFDC L’Oreal Bridal Week: Collection Reviews, Day 1

      Conventionally speaking, bridal is not my cup of tea and being a loyal fan of western apparel and fashion-forward designs, anything conventional and commercial in nature is watched with reprehension by me. This is the very reason that bridals fails to excite me and as much as I appreciate the labour and work that goes into making a bridal piece and appreciate the beauty of the final piece, lack of innovation and experimentation in the bridals department is what causes the lack of anticipation on my end.

          However, when the most established and reputed fashion council of Pakistan takes on bridals and organize a bridal week carrying all the necessary ingredients of a usual fashion show, a fashion aficionado like me can do nothing but take notice. So, to sum it up, PFDC in collaboration with cosmetic giant L’Oreal Paris is staging a full fledged Bridal Couture Week which is currently underway from  18-21 Dec, 2011 in Lahore. Commercial giants like HSY, Karma, Maria B and Umar Sayeed are part of the list of presenters along with the newly talented lot of Ali Xeeshan and Fahad Hussayn.

       The event has so far turned out to be quite successful with a few very notable collection and some rather boring ones. Here’s a quick review of the most-talked about and worthy collection of Day 1.

HSY:

      Widely acclaimed and commercially successfully fashion giant of Lahore HSY presented his collection on Day 1. Here it is pertinent to mention that HSY was filling in for Nomi Ansari who was scheduled to show too but had to pull out at the last minute due to date conflicts with the organizers.

       His collection titled ”Game of Kings” was themed on the dynamic game of Polo. With a colour palette of black and varying shades of golden, it was an ornate show where models adorned polo headgears and playing sticks. Clothes were delicately dazzling with lavish details. The collection comprised of both menswear and womenswear looks with the focus on rejuvenating the traditional bridals clothes with modernity. Hemlines went up and the usage of traditional dupattas was shunned. Presenting bridal wear as separates was a very novel idea. The collection for most of its part was very pleasing and definitely experimental however apparently the designer went a bit too overboard with the experimentation as the use of polo accessories with bridals seemed a bit disoriented, some of the menswear looks seemed as if they belonged more to a fashion show ramp than a bridal week runway.

         However, minor glitches apart, it was an opulent collection that was the right fusion of tradition and experimentation and the clothes worked. Black and metallic gold colour combination was the most notable and trend setting aspect of the collection and we can expect to see a lot of this trend in the coming future. The transitional aspect of the pieces from bridals to evening wear was another high point of the collection.

          

          Other presentation of the day included Sonia Azhar’s collection, her collection though very beautiful was quite boring with no innovation or experimentation. Bridal and evening wear dresses in traditional silhouettes and and conventional detailing walked down the runway with nothing exciting or path breaking. Moamar Rana, Hadiqa Kiani and Adeel Hashmi walked the finale for her.

      On a side not, the runway for all four days has been designed by Hamza Tarrar of Casa Hamza and what an amazing job he has done with it, the gold shimmering runway of Day 1 was dripping with elegance and splendour.

     There were some amazing collections displayed by Fahad Hussayn and Ali Xeeshan on Day 2 and Day 3 respectively which will be reviewed later.