Twenty Designers, One Platform

By Sonya Rehman 

On the 16th of December the ‘Pakistan Fashion Design Council’ (PFDC) held its first-ever trade show (at Lahore’s Royal Palm Golf & Country Club) put together by twenty fashion designers without the help of any big budget sponsors.

Some of the designers which featured their collections were Mehdi, Ammar Belal, Libas, Maheen Karim, Sobia Nazir, Rehana Saigol, Kamiar Rokni, Karma, HSY and many others.

The timing on the invitation stated that the show would start at 6pm, but commenced after two long hours.

Word had it that since the chief guest had not arrived; the show would not be able to begin. So we had to wait it out. To top it off, at around 7:15pm – when most of the guests had arrived – a sweeper was spotted on the ramp giving it a jolly good mopping. Quite a turn-off.

Nonetheless, the show took off with Sehyr Saigol’s ‘Libas’ line which seeped out in frills and dainty colours of beige and tea pink. Second in line was designer Waseem Khan’s collection which was really extraordinary. It was regal, yet gypsy, fun, yet sassy. With long kaftans, long, loose blouses and flowy skirts – with large borders adorning the skirts and the blouses, the line was something else!

Mehdi’s collection was surprising too – it was pretty distinctive. Gia Ali’s white dress (fitted at the thighs with forest green motifs adorning the front of the ensemble and a long, sexy slit which ran all the way down to the spine) was interesting. But Gia really needs to grow those long locks of hers back, and fast. The afro cut really doesn’t do much for her sharp features and slightly broad build.

Sara Shahid’s ‘Sublime’ was perhaps a little bland for the ramp, but one has to hand it over to the designer because her cuts were clean and sharp. Infact, Sara’s work reminds one of Sonya Battla’s – not to draw any comparisons, but just to exemplify the understated chic that both Sara’s and Sonya’s lines carry. Besides, both Sara and Sonya understand their niche market intuitively well.

Frills, plaids, old school bling and funkadelic school girl oomph was what Ammar Belal’s collection was all about. While some gawked at the ‘out there’ outfits which waltzed down the ramp, I thought it was risky and fun. After all, art’s all about taking risks right? The models strutted their stuff to The Who’s ‘Baba O’Rilely’ which seemed to juxtapose Belal’s current design philosophy with the song’s melody (not lyrics) quite aptly.

While Maheen Karim’s line was very Cher and sequincey, Asifa & Nabeel’s collection was slinky, silky, and velvety in lilacs and deep purples. Cybil looked absolutely ravishing in one of the gowns. Maria B’s collection on the other hand was tacky and Moulin Rogue-ish – with each model sporting massive feathers in their hairdos. I just didn’t get it. It was simply: weird.

Perhaps Maria needs to understand the different between a calculated ‘risk’ and going completely over the top.

Sobia Nazir, for instance, understands her market well. Her collection was diverse – vis-à-vis the colour combinations and they worked pretty darn well.

New designer, Khadija’s line ‘Élan’ was decent. Iraj in particular wore one of Khadija’s loose-fitted, A-line, white kameez and pants. It was pretty stunning as it featured silver work which ran from the shoulders, all the way down to the hem line of the kameez. Coupled with Iraj’s blazing dark skin, the outfit shone on the ramp like a jewel.

But the show stealers of the night had to be Rehana Saigol, Kamiar Rokni and HSY. Nadia Hussain wore a double-shaded sari by Rehana which was jaw-droppingly beautiful.

No one in the audience could take their eyes off Nadia and the sari. Kamiar’s line too, was memorable and ethnic – it struck an appealing balance between ethnic patterns and contemporary cuts. Very Mongol inspired.

HSY’s beige, brown, white, and cream ensembles were gorgeous too. They were from his spring/summer collection that he’d apparently shown at Dubai Fashion Week. Flirtatious at best, HSY’s line was heavily embellished with contemporary designs.

The PFDC show was entertaining – minus the delay and the minor sound goof-ups – and it wrapped up pretty quickly. However, two things stuck out like sore thumbs; firstly the lighting on the ramp was so stark that those in the first, second and third rows could easily make out stretch marks and flabby cellulite on some of the models’ arms and midriffs. Perhaps that could be combated if some of the models quit starving, and decided to hit the gym. Sorry folks, but I’m not going to beat around the bush. If you’re a ramp model – in the spotlight – you’ve got to sculpt your body and maintain it. Eating a bare minimum just won’t cut ice.

With the exception of Vinny, Cybil, Nadia Hussain and Sabina Pasha – whose skin was taut and glowing, the rest looked edgy and undernourished.

Secondly, during the show, as Iraj made her way back to the centre of the stage, a relatively newer model walked down the ramp – perhaps too soon. Iraj looked incredibly ticked off, motioned with her hand and ground her teeth. The newer model looked petrified. That was nasty and in bad taste on Iraj’s part.

Mistakes happen and models – no matter how senior – need to handle the goof-ups gracefully rather than making it obvious infront of the scores of people sitting barely two feet away from you!

That being stated, the show was snappy, the music was great and some of the designers really shone in the spotlight. Here’s hoping the PFDC holds future fashion shows around the country real soon.

Images, Dawn

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