The winter gala featured some strong collections but the startling part was the lack of industry power at its own premier event; this time showcasing many fresh names.
After holding its Spring Summer outing at a private venue for a select audience, Fashion Pakistan returned to its home-ground at the scenic Beach Luxury in Karachi for its inaugural #FPWinterGala — But the question is did Karachi’s last surviving fashion fiesta make a mark this time around.
Ditching a multiday showcase, the council opted to host a visibly sized-down single-day event either owing to the Covid-induced limitations or the lack of budget; whatever the reason may be. As a fashion week avid I actually missed the chaotic red carpet and the ‘inconvenience’ of dragging myself to another corner of the city for three nights in a row — but the post-covid world was never going to be the same and an industry like fashion seems to face hard the aftershocks of the pandemic struck economy.
Talking about the red carpet — in fact the pink carpet, which was turned into a showcase of its own as designers walked with their muses. The designer-muse duos seen were Anoushey Ashraf wearing Maheen Khan, Nousheen Shah wearing Delphi by Nida Tapal, Farah Talib Aziz and her fashionista brigade, Urshia Hussain wearing Boheme by Kanwal and Ayesha Omar wearing the PinkTree Company along with designer Shamaeel Ansari who was her own muse.
While it is appreciable for the council to have come up with an innovative idea to get some designers on board who otherwise may not be willing to invest in the full-blown catwalk, I found the execution mismanaged. I wish each designer and muse were allotted a slot to walk the carpet with the entire media’s focus just on them for the time before moving on to the next duo and so on. What ended up happening was that multiple muses showed up around the same time and from there it really didn’t feel like anything different than your usual red carpet.
Well that was all for the pink carpet; now moving on to the collections of night,
Nothing like a chic Maheen Khan signature to start off the show — a bit delayed but let’s just say the showcase made up for the wait. The collection presented in collaboration with Jafferjees transitioned from the designer’s classic matching separates to vibrant pant-sarees. The outfits once again proved that if there’s a designer in Pakistan who understands cuts and colour then it is definitely Maheen.
Out of the kurtas my favourites were the two pieces worn by Fahmeen and Roshanay. The sarees were something I didn’t expect to like as much but I was amazed by the fun styling, colourful prints and how the pieces had so much going on yet remained sophisticated.
Inspired by the universe I suppose, Zaaviay’s outfits can be hung in primary science classes so the children can spot all the celestial bodies on them because that’s the only place I see these dresses going. The brand that has tried to move from eastern wear to couture has just like most designers failed to get their gowns even right.
The colour palette, the tailoring, the finishing and especially the material everything was sub-standard and looked last minute. There were dresses that had the entire universe embellished on them, a saree with trees, branches and birds while the pieces worn by Sarah and Nimra shouldn’t have even made it past the design board. The final look of the collection was worn by Mushk Kaleem with a painfully unnecessary crown.
The designer who displayed a number of ill-fitted and over embroidered sherwanis last time seems to have taken our advice and I was pleasantly surprised by his collection — full of some very chic suits. Kudos to you, Sameer.
Along with the usual tuxedos the designer also brought some chic statement ensembles such as a very cool grey ‘Game Of Thrones’ inspired jacket on Sauban Umais. And like every other menswear collection presenting right before the wedding season hits we had our fair share of suits from which I liked the blingy number on Sachal. The collection was overall a decent one for me while the only suggestion I’d give the designer now is to work on stitching and material.
The biggest highlight of the night — Hina Mirza has definitely made a roaring runway debut. Although sceptical when I first read the designer who is mostly associated with eastern wear is set to showcase at the winter gala, I must say that Hina was a remarkably pleasant surprise.
An impressive collection with some super cool styling. Breaking away from her eastern pretwear, Hina dabbed into more western cuts with winter colours. The collection featured a lot of plaid, dark blues and neutral hues along with a bit of lace at the collar and hem. Overall, it was a very impressive collection not only for a debut designer but also by far from what we are used to seeing at fashion weeks.
Aamna wants you to wear a splash of colours this winter and made a strong case with her designs too. Bright yellows, blues, greens and hot pinks made for the colour palette while the outfits had it all from pleats to frills to big puffy sleeves and extravagant collars. The collection popping with colour comprised some cute dresses and matching separates — my favourites out of which were turquoise skirt on Maha, a yellow co-ord with puffy sleeves and another green ensemble on Nimra. My only issue with the collection was that some dresses were too crinkled otherwise Aamna’s display was one of the better attempts at going western — something so many of our designers still struggle at.
Another debut, another winning collection. Zohaib Jubileo understood about menswear what many senior designers have failed to — that simplicity and elegance is the key to a good collection. The pastel colour palette was extremely soothing to see as models strutted out the runway in some clean cuts and minimal embroidery. I particularly liked the peach open sherwani on model Sauban.
Zohaib who has put together an impressive debut collection didn’t go overboard and stuck to exploring the innate sophistication of a neat design which was definitely worked wonders for him. This was also probably one of those rare times where I could see pieces that even I’d like to wear myself. Here’s to hopefully seeing more of him on the runway.
Arizai by Atiya:
Helmed by former model and the show director for the night Atiya Khan, the collection was a spiritual take on fashion with a calm and neutral colour palette comprising mostly of off-white and beige. The oversized long kurtas had some interesting little embroidered details but I feel the collection on the whole could have been better conceptualised as well as the runway execution which had models walk painfully slow to an even slower track with some even doing awkward hand movements on the head ramp. But I liked the beige kurta on Sachal and the outfits on Roshanay and Fahmeen.
And with that the single-night fashion gala came to an end but did it fare well? With at least 3 superb collections two of which presented by debut designers is a good enough reason for me to be impressed at least when it comes to the runway fashion. I also liked how the fashion event was strictly about fashion and not turned into a celebrity circus just for the sake of social media mileage as well as how the organisers would rather have empty front row seats rather than fill it up with ‘irrelevant cheerleaders’.
The hair and makeup by Nabilas this time was a breath of relief. I liked the gel-back hair that remained constant through most of the shows and helped bring out the strong facial structures of the models. I also enjoyed the understated kohl-rimmed eyes along with the nude, sandy lip colours.
And needless to say; the models were back this season. With famed stylist Tabesh Khoja taking over the casting this time around, popular models like Roshanay, Fahmeen, Nimra, Mushk, Maha and Sarah strutted down the Fashion Pakistan runway along with male models Sachal Afzal, Suleman Hussain and Arsalan Ihsan. There was also some impressive new talent spotted such as the suave tan-skinned Sauban Umais and Annie Siddiqui — both impressed with their striking runway presence.
But then again, there were a few models who seemed out of place with their waddled walks and lack of confidence. I don’t know who is to be blamed here, the models or the lack of pre-show training.
While the fashion quotient ran a reasonable high, there was something amiss — where was the industry? Except for a few designers, none of the bigwigs showed up to cheer the fresh talent which I find disappointing. Was it because the designer line-up didn’t feature many darlings and largely newbies or were many of them not invited — whatever the reason may be it is imperative for the industry to come together for fashion weeks and support their own.
What was even more disappointing was that several faces seen on the red carpet earlier rushed back home instead of sitting down for the show. I suggest the fashion insiders learn about sportsmanship from model Aimal Khan and his seven LSA appearances — each year cheering for the winners in his category.
Photography by Nadir Toosy