PFDC Catwalk 2019 Nomi Ansari Collaboration with Tuhura Athletics
From mentoring newcomers, curating line-ups that have broken away from staid commercial shackles and sparking spectacular fashion highs at its 20th Fashion Week the Lahore-based Pakistan Fashion Design Council is going from strength to strength
There is no ‘one’ best fashion week. There is a motley crew that qualifies as Pakistan’s best designers and they amp up an event when they are part of it. The fashion pendulum is perpetually oscillating between brilliant highs and dismal lows; up, down; hit, miss. The PFW, this time, was most certainly more hit and very little miss.
I was the 20th time that the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) laid out the catwalk. They made sure that everyone was aware of this too, knowing full well — and one would have to agree — that 20 extravaganzas later, the fashion was looking pretty good.
Energy ran high and there were fabulous fashion moments strewn across the length of the three-day-long PFDC Fashion Week (PFW). There was a time when celebrities would throng local fashion weeks but they have almost entirely been replaced now by major fashion heavyweights who have a keener sense of design. Makes sense. Twenty events later, the PFDC is looking good too.
There’s a lot that has helped the Lahore-based PFDC become a major trendsetter, orchestrating the pret-centric PFW in the spring/summer and then a bridal fashion week later in the year. The consistent support of regular sponsors has allowed the quality of shows to be maintained. Also, Chairperson Sehyr Saigol runs an airtight show, spearheading a council that has more or less remained the same. Over the years, this council has been proficient in mentoring newcomers and curating line-ups that have broken away from staid commercial shackles, and shot up to spectacular fashion highs.
But does that mean that the PFDC’s fashion weeks — more particularly the PFW this time — is the ‘best’ fashion week? It’s a question that I’m often asked, given that it is a blessing — and, sometimes, a burden — of my job to attend all fashion weeks. The answer is that there is no ‘one1 best fashion week. There is a motley crew that qualifies as Pakistan’s best designers and they amp up an event when they are part of it, regardless of whether it is one organised by the PFDC, or by the Karachi-based Fashion Pakistan Council or ‘Showcase’, organised by the
Hum TV Network. The fashion pendulum is perpetually oscillating between brilliant highs and dismal lows; up, down; hit, miss. The PFW, this time, was most certainly more hit and very little miss.
Joining hands with the council was the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), orchestrating the textile-based TEXPO around the same dates as fashion week. Across the road from the main fashion week venue, the TEXPO was swarmed all day long by local and international buyers. The focus within the exhibit was primarily upon Pakistan’s many export-friendly products — bed linen, towels, fabric yarns, et al. But there was also an attractive PFDC ‘lounge’ set up, exhibiting the work of select labels. And in the evening, the international delegates were invited to attend fashion week.
Did these visitors, who arrived from all over the globe, place any orders for local fashion? No, although apparently the exhibitors at the TEXPO are quite happy with the deals that they struck. On the upside, unlike past TDAP and fashion collaborations, when engineers and pharmacists visiting the Expo would sit goggle-eyed, enjoying the ‘entertainment’ at fashion week, the TEXPO’s guests
hailed from a background in textile. The fashion week was more relevant to them and it is hoped that they have now become aware of the potential within Pakistani fashion.
Moreover, it can be hoped that one day buyers who are more relevant to fashion itself will come to attend fashion week in Pakistan, rather than to merely peruse the bed linen. Then, perhaps, one will be able to write about the budding international business of Pakistani fashion.
For now, though, PFW ’19 was more instrumental in making waves in the local market and getting the Pakistani fashion aficionado in the mood for a splurge-out. Here’s a look at the many stitches that wove together the fabric of PFW:
BEST FOOT FORWARD
The most memorable collections were the ones that stuck to the PFW mandate the platform is primarily known for — showcasing trends in pret. Chapter 2, Khaadi’s fast-growing offshoot, stayed true to its leitmotif of hand-woven fabric, projecting it into minimal androgyny on an eye-catching palette. There was a casual elegance to the show — one that is increasingly identifiable with the brand. At completely the other end of the pret spectrum,
Khadijah Shah’s Zaha made its catwalk debut, oozing ’80s glam into the high-street. The riveting medley of animal print, eccentric flora, colour and lazy silhouettes was potentially game-changing for a market that is currently drowned in inane floral inspirations.
The young and very talented Hussain Rehar zipped fashion off to the future with his out-of-the-box take on bling, colour and silhouette. Hussain Rehar, I am told, is doing quite well for a new designer and he may just be the fashion power player to look out for in the future.
The House of Kamiar Rokni was exceptional, spinning folk inspirations to contemporary tunes, taking indigenous craft and working it into distinctive patterns and styles. The play of technique and embellishment was impeccable — one hopes that the designer now shows regularly at fashion weeks.
Saira Shakira flexed their muscles as an up-and-coming brand with a fast-strengthening design ethos. Their fusion-wear, splayed out with dots, stripes and embellished scenes from a ‘Secret Garden’, was delightful.
HSY spurned his penchant for embroidery with a collection painted entirely in a cardinal red. Fahad Hussayn’s prints were eye-catching kitschy fun, except that the latter half of the collection was weighed down by heavy bridals that may have been beautiful in their intricacy but seemed misplaced. Sania Maskatiya, too, could not resist the lure of the wedding market, adding a light bridal at the end of a collection that was, nevertheless, extraordinarily pretty. The mix of print and craft was very well-conceived and quintessential Sania.
Zara Shahjahan made a runway comeback with a classically Eastern collection that she will be retailing soon.