Fashion for a Cause

By Sonya Rehman

After signing up with Bareeze for the B-HSY and simultaneously launching R2W, his own ready to wear label, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin launched his new collections in a grand show featuring six different lines. If there is one designer who looks set to maintain his foothold in the lucrative bridal market and yet branch off into pret, which is the future, it is HSY. It’s a hard balance to strike, but with this outstanding show, Hassan proves that he can definitely walk the line.

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Covering the enormous, verdant lawn at Governor House in Lahore, a sea of round tables lay sprawled out, tightly ensconcing a T-shaped ramp that was set against the backdrop of two large projectors. And situated in the centre, a mammoth ‘HSY’ sat boldly, scarcely shielded by flirtatiously flimsy curtains that seemed to sway to and fro with each sporadic and temperamental zephyr. The thought of viewing an HSY show against this fantastic backdrop was exciting. After the Virasat collection, everyone waited with bated breath to see what Hassan would do next.

He did not disappoint. In conjunction with the CARE Foundation’, a charitable trust that establishes its own schools for the underprivileged and also takes those run by the government under its benevolent wing, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin launched his 2007 spring collection as a part of the foundation’s annual fundraiser program.

Before the show kick-started, the lights went off and the projectors came on. A funky house beat thumped as shots of Aaminah Haq, Vinnie, Meesha, Iman and Mehreen Syed flashed across the screens mouthing lyrics from the song. It was very George Michael’s ‘Freedom’, except this one was the brainchild of the designer. As the beat reached its climax, the models hit the ramp with pizzazz and attitude galore.
HSY’s first ‘Seduction’ line spun off rebellious blacks that were teased and tickled with sparkly, silver embellishments. With sherwanis, coats, cocktail dresses and skirts – that accentuated curves and were all about ‘flow’ – the line was anything but somber. Black does tend to take on a grave tone but Hassan played around with it and gave the most old fashioned of colours a mischievous appeal.

To balance out the ‘wild child’ feel of the previous line, ‘Divine’, the second, broke out into a soft palette of frothy creams, stark whites and coy gypsy ruffles as a mellow number by Seal played in the background. ‘Divine’ was demure, yet sophisticated somehow and focused on long, flowing contours of nude chalky whites and intricate embossing.

As ‘Divine’ gently withdrew a gush of hot browns, gold/bronze and light maroon under the name of ‘Unfaithful’ surged forth in flared pants and fitted short kameezes. The look was smart and savoir-faire. With tightly pulled back hair that was wrapped in slick, netted buns, smokey heavy-lidded eye make-up, pale lips and foundation that gave the impression of an ‘alabaster look’, Shahzad (of Ather Shahzad) chose a look for the models – that even though predictable – seemed to suit each outfit without looking choppy.

In mild charcoal grays of different shades, ‘Dreams’, the fourth of the spring line, bordered on the slinky feminine as there was a subtle, yet noticeable, emphasis on the back line. Where this line centered itself on sleeveless tops and pants for women in varying tones of gray, the men’s collection followed pursuit in browns out of which a creamy, velvet-gold jacket stood out like sun-kissed leaf drifting in a winter sky. Come the fifth, ‘Eternal’ – a traditional, desi line which sprayed colours in royal purples, gold, mermaid turquoise, a mesh of crimson and bottle green, gray and pink, onto the stark-white ramp. However, two sterling outfits stood out in this mesh of colours; one being model Neha’s deep purple that was swathed in elaborate embellishments and a sunny yellow-blue number worn by Sanam. In a short-shirt, traditional yellow kurta and flowing loosely fitted azure pants which almost gave the impression of Sanam gliding across the ramp, the outfit was a sure-shot winner as the styling, fall and cut of the pants seemed extremely novel and unique. The men’s line for this particular segment was as playful and experimental with colours (in sherwanis and kurtas in loud hues of yellow, orange and green) as the women’s line.

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From the male models, Adnan Malik stole quite a few hearts with his lopsided grin, side-parted hair and shy (almost uncomfortable) stroll down the ramp. Mekaal, Nomi and Abdullah, like seasoned catwalk models, shone as they sauntered down the ramp looking buff with their gazes set straight head. Male models have really come into their own now. These guys are eye candy right on par with the female models, and all of them love doing a ‘Sheru show’. With his penchant for high fashion drama and sense of aesthetics, his collection launches have historically been showstoppers.

‘Mohabaat’, the show’s finale (and the last sixth of HSY’s 2007 spring collection) proved it. Centering on a luxuriant bridal line that was encompassed by the designer’s signature adornments, trimmings and embroideries as songs by Abida Parveen and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan played in the background bringing the show to a very exultant end.

HSY, being the perfectionist that he is, put up a thoroughly entertaining show for the fashion lot of Lahore. His music selection, it must be emphasized, complemented the theme, ambience and mood of each line impeccably. Also, the fact that his 2007 spring collection encompassed both western and eastern wear that had distinct styles and cuts, proves Hassan’s adroitness as a designer. His collection was diverse, each line having its very own distinctive personality without looking like a hodgepodge of fabrics and embellishments gone wrong. With the variety that he showed, it would have been easy to get confused between eastern and western aesthetics, but Hassan walked that fine line with elan. Indeed, fashion critics agree he did a far better job of it than Tarun Tahiliani who tried doing the same at the last Carnival de Couture in Karachi.

Engaging as the show was, the only frustrating bit was the fact that the press table where we were seated was situated far behind towards the right of the ramp (very near to the row of buffet tables) which gave one quite a neck-sore from craning forward and adjusting one’s chair to get a better look above the throng of heads that sat ahead. Where abroad the press is given utmost importance and reverence at events, Pakistani shows have yet to catch up on this. It is the press that reviews collections and pushes them out into the market, which is why they always get front row seating.

Either way, the efforts for putting the show together was laudable and thoroughly professional, not to mention the music and projector synchronization, choreography, ramp design, music selection and charming booklets (from HSY and CARE for each guest). The fact that the who’s who of fashion in Lahore attended the show, fashion councils notwithstanding was fabulous to see. Nilofer Shahid, Kamiar Rokni and Maheen Kardar of Karma, Saadia Mirza, Ammar Belal, Maria B, Saba Hasan and Sara Shahid were just some of the designers who sat amongst the well heeled crowd that consisted of Lahore aristocrats and social animals. The audience is as much a part of the show as any other element and HSY and Care definitely came up with the right mix.

The fact that the show was held at the Governor House bodes well for fashion that is all set to turn into big business. Couple that with the fact that proceeds from the show will be used to construct a new school for the underprivileged and you have a win win situation. Fashion for a cause is the most dignified of platforms. State support for the fashion industry is also crucial. Fashion is a multi billion dollar industry. It is imperative that Pakistan get a slice of the pie.

Instep, The News

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