KARACHI: Fashion is a fickle beast and we saw it play out in Karachi, Pakistan. The winter festive of Fashion Pakistan Week 2016 went off smoothly, far more smoothly than the first, proving that practice does indeed make perfect. Three days, almost twenty designers, eclipsing music, restricted invites, same time, same place, and same venue as the last time. There were those who got excited and those who didn’t. One witnessed fashion drama, the inevitable shaadi wear and a lot of collections that should never have been made. Maheen Karim on Day 1 was worth their salt. Using luxurious velvets that felt and looked expensive with sumptuously gold sequined, intricate work, flawless finishing, well-cut printed jump suits, harem pants and tops – this collection looks expensive. Maheen is almost there, close to becoming a fashion powerhouse, with her rakish uber-sexy style that never crosses the line into tack-o-rama. That’s what it’s about really – creating a brand that screams your signature. Those handmade necklaces she made models sport on the ramp with the ruse of fine detailing on each outfit gave her collection such a strong, modern look.
Earlier, Amir Adnan opened the first day of Fashion Pakistan Week-Winter Festive with “The Way Forward” collection, slaying traditional sherwanis in basic black with self-embroidery in the initial sporadic looks. His western menswear, featuring sleek black and regal hued fusion of western wear, were a drastic departure from his previous equally brilliant Escape collection that was all about modernism. His cuts are more eastern that anyone else’s and he also does eastern with more panache than anyone else. His structure is flawless and so neat that even the most casual of his clothes look and feel luxe. Classic wedding wear will never go out of style – indeed it is the mainstay of most designers. Hamza Bukhari and Sana Yasir ruled the runway with their Freesia and Naurooz collections, respectively. The collections featured classic heavy bridals with intricate work, but Bukhari was updated with his choice of motifs (an ode to long forgotten Persian arts) and Sana infused hers with interesting colours of silver, lilac, delicate pink and mint. There wasn’t a stitch out of place; the detailing on the layers by both the designers, even the ones barely peeking through, was a remarkable affair. If Amir Adnan is the wizard of design, HSY is a wiz at showmanship. One has yet to see a collection that is not dynamic from him. Indeed one is hard pressed to find a piece that one can say is ‘totally off’. Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, shortened to HSY and mostly called Sheru, ended the Day 1 with Onyx, epitomising his vision of a superwoman. With textured fabric, organza, leather, and triple georgette, black dominated the night. Compared to the brilliance of designers who made it to the showcase on the first day of the fashion week, Sobia Nazir fell short. One would’ve enjoyed her silhouette, but not her eye for colour and use of fabrics with stitching fashion all over the place. Fringes, fur, sequins all were lobed disreputably, which mostly didn’t gel together on the runway. Fashion Council Karachi is an organised system, a rather formulaic and contained one, rather like the Hierarchy of Karachi society and operates in much the same manner. Patronage, fostering, nurturing, young designers looking up to their seniors; it is a modus operandi that works well in Karachi because it is so much like the way the city itself operates.
Shahla Chatoor, Fnk Asia by Huma Adnan, and Deepak Perwani, three distinct brands, three different design philosophies and all are such a pleasure to watch. Shehla Chatoor’s Tresor line is very international with sexy/sophisticated western wears and heavy bridals, capes, trials and ball gowns with the reckoning of net, fur and velvet. Her collection makes even more sense when you put it in perspective of Shahla Chatoor stores, the classy souk! Off-shoulder silhouettes, ghararas pants, pockets on lehngas and beetroot extract tones in voluminous silhouettes, the shift to modern jumpsuits with gold intricate embroidery made up the Fnk Asia showcase on Day 2. This is easy to wear, impactful fashion and for me, struck a deeper chord than the dresses that they put out. The only designer who truly held his own on the second day was Deepak Perwani. He always does well, mostly. Pakistan’s master of draping and bridal wears in Karachi put out a fabulous collection that began with a mesh of vibrant hues and ended up with Ayeza Khan in a beige classic heavy bridal. Deepak ruled the runway with his floral motifs, lehngas and regal red shawls, and uplifted the Day 2 with his finale vibe of traditional bridal wears.
“It was the best of days, it was the worst of days, it was the day of foolishness, it was a day for belief, it was a day for incredulity, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” Due apologies with the liberties taken with Charles Dickens quote, these lines sum up all too perfectly the mix of emotions the third day and finale of the fashion week evoked. One was expecting a bizarre affair from a day that began with Nida Azwer and ended with Nauman Arfeen. And this one really did take the cake and then hid it under the tinges of love!
We’ll start with the brilliance: The finale of FPW belonged to Republic Womenswear, showcasing the story of a woman and the treasure that lies within her heart. Featuring classic heavy bridals in silvers and greys with a tinge of delicate pinks, intricate work, and the highlight of the show, very sexy backs, Sana Omer played around and came up with some real stunners along the way. Republic Womenswear was breathtakingly beautiful. The difference is a huge, glaring one when one sees a collection of gorgeous outfits at any given fashion week and then like a flash in the pan it’s gone. Sana has already almost prepared her boutique for the arrival of this collection where fashion lovers can hurry off to. That Mawra look was to die for! Designer duo Deepak n Fahad made it big by featuring menswear in light blue, grey and tea pink incorporated with waistcoats, jackets, long coats and voluminous dhoti shalwar. Rozina Muneeb, translating sari dresses with large slits and traditional voluminous lehngas in the tinges of red, beige and silver (simple, but edgy cuts), made headlines for aptly choosing Mukhtara Mai, the icon of courage for women, as her showstopper, who received a standing ovation for her strength as she went down the runway. Nauman Arfeen closed the finale with his Pukaar, in the soft hues of pearl white, traditional maroon with Mughal-inspired magnificence on convoluted work – also sporting child models with a flawless finish. The energy was so fantastic that people were standing midway through the show, there could not have been a more perfect end to the most fashionable day one has witnessed at a Pakistani fashion week.