Fashion Masquerade

By Sonya Rehman

Worked around a theme that seemed to be borrowed from the Moulin Rogue, Saadia Mirza’s recent show was as opulent and Victorian as ever. This young designer realizes that creating brand awareness is as important as sending collections down a straight ramp.

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There’s something quintessentially Victorian about Saadia Mirza’s creations. Each of her lines depicts a certain epoch, a mood, even an atmosphere, created around an air of mystery. Recognized for doing things differently, Saadia held an exclusive show at her outlet in Lahore last week and the dull gold card that was sent out to the limited, highly exclusive guest list was intriguing. The schedule of the evening was laid out in ‘acts’, as if inviting to one of Shakespeare’s theatrical productions and not a fashion show. There was ‘Act 1 – The Cell’, ‘Act 2 – Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Act 3 – Kohinoor’. It was a fashion masquerade and she had transformed the entire area of her studio to fit the bill.

The outlet was transformed into something that didn’t even remotely resemble the face of Saadia’s outlet. A thick velvet, rusty gold tent above happened to cocoon the space into a snug little enclosure – making it feel all the more ‘exclusive’ and ‘private’.

With small bonfires lit to keep the temperature warm and cozy and long low-seated couches placed in the garden, the atmosphere was fascinating. The glass doors leading inside the outlet, which was pitch dark, were half shut and one anticipated what was in store.

While waiting, one peered over perfectly blow-dried and peroxided heads to perhaps catch a glimpse or make out the flurry of activity that was happening inside. Standing outside, the general air of all the who’s who and what’s what, carried style, chic, over the top theatrics and a bit of pomp. Though the guest list was high profile, it was very different from her last show held at Cafe Flo, Karachi, which was attended by the who’s who of Fashion Pakistan.

Soon enough, Act 1 opened up with much drama that was announced by Jalal, thespian extraordinaire known for his role in Shah Sharabeel’s stage adaptation of Moulin Rogue and Phantom of the Opera. Playing the role to the hilt, Jalal gave the audience breathless anticipation as he spoke in his booming, sing song voice – making it feel all the more spectacular and dramatic. Finally curtains over the outlet’s window display were lifted, showing two models posed as mannequins. Where one was dressed in a glamorously accessorized black gown from Saadia’s Voyage line, the other wore a black and white outfit from the designer’s Velocity pret line. To say that it felt very Moulin-Rogue-ish would perhaps come across as being pseudo, giving it the impression of being possibly too unreal and artificial. However, the word ‘theatrical’ best described the disposition of Saadia’s show.

Act 1 presented all of Saadia’s five lines, namely; Voyage, Vintage, Vanity, Vision and Velocity. The Voyage line stood out for its cultural interpretation and Vintage was western couture – a period line, inspired by the 18th century as it included serpentine jewellery pieces that consisted of lush silks and real Swarovski crystals. Vanity consisted of the traditional bridal ensembles constructed on jamevaars and chiffons to name a few fabrics, embellished with semi-precious (as well as precious) stones. Saadia’s fourth western line, Vision consisted of elaborate yet intricate Chantilly lace and the like. The fifth line, Velocity was solely in black and white. The show was photographer/styling duo Maram and Aabroo’s first major outing in terms of styling and one must appreciate that they did an impeccable job. The make-up and hairstyles were both arresting yet natural – perhaps the stylists wanted to keep it that way as very ‘loud’ make-up would wind up downplaying the bold statements that each outfit happened to make. If partnerships are the way fashion will go forward, then Ather Shehzad have stiff competition indeed. This is definitely an exciting time for fashion.

It was evident that by showing all her five lines at once, Saadia meant to introduce and reinforce her collections later in the show, to illustrate the differentiations between each line.

The show was not meant to really go up close and observe, feel, touch the dresses and jewelry pieces (it would’ve been virtually impossible to do so anyway what with throngs of people moving about in the cramped enclosure)….but rather, to get a gist of what Saadia’s work encompassed. It was all about marketing the brand to her clientele and helping them understand its concept.

From clothes, the emphasis shifted to jewelry in the second act, diamonds to be exact. This act was just as dramatic as the first as it featured Aaminah Haq swathed in diamonds (in a vintage couture line along with the other models) as Madonna’s ‘material girl’ played in the background. Speaking of music, a live Jazz band belted out some wonderful instrumental numbers – the saxophone player really was exceptionally talented and played his sax brilliantly. This just supplemented to the richness of ambience indoors.

‘Kohinoor’, the final act as well as finale, showcased Vanity, Saadia’s line of bridal and traditional wear again and in doing so depicted a scene that was quite glamorous and courtesan-like.

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Saadia not only proved her dexterity as a designer, but also, her sharp business expertise and PR skills. A welcome addition to the fashion industry, she remains a private, focused designer, continuously paving her way to the top.

Instep, The News

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