Fashion Pakistan Winter Gala
“The show must go on,” a senior member of the Fashion Pakistan Council (FPC) told me as we met at this year’s Fashion Pakistan Winter Gala (FW21).
The red carpet and catwalk were undoubtedly set up. Some of the country’s greatest models had to walk the runway, and the Nabila’s team of stylists had done an excellent job with hair and cosmetics. Unfortunately, there was still a sense of jaded fatigue, as well as a lack of glitter, which is so important at a fashion event. The show was on, but it seemed to stutter at moments.
It’s the coronavirus’s fault. It’s all because of the economy’s demise. Alternatively, sponsors are no longer as eager to spend in fashion as they are in promoting celebrity events. Or the sad reality that Pakistan’s fashion industry has become so splintered by feuding egos that many refuse to collaborate or even appear on the red carpet as a gesture of support.
I’ve gone to Fashion Pakistan Weeks (FPWs) in Karachi, where people struggled for front row seats, where the city’s affluent and famous dressed up in designer gear and cheered the show on, and where there was a lively, infectious energy coursing down the catwalk. The enthusiasm was low at this year’s FW21, although the catwalk strove valiantly to keep up.
Were there any noteworthy collections? Yes. A few hints of a trend here and there? Certainly. There were also some very excellent debuts by labels that I hope to see on the catwalk again and again. The buzz, on the other hand, was gone. I can’t say the FPC didn’t try. But how much can a council do when industry players prefer to march to their own drummers and are no longer interested in supporting their own?
This winter, the council forewent arranging a “week” of sorts, instead limiting the event to a single night of performances. The venue was also noticeably scaled down, with a catwalk that didn’t appear particularly thrilling, set up beneath ageing chandeliers and fans in a hall of Karachi’s Beach Luxury hotel. Certainly not the glitzy, sparkling ramp of yesteryear.
Nonetheless, it was a gala, and it began with a red carpet as well-known designers sent out their muses in statement attire. It was a brilliant idea, especially given that many mainstream designers are currently unwilling to engage in avant-garde fashion week collections because to the destruction caused by the pandemic. Instead, they may simply dress one or two muses and make a red carpet statement while also helping to generate credibility for the event.’
There were several standout muses, to be sure. Anoushey Ashraf looked stunning in a Maheen Khan couture gown. Farah Talib Aziz sent out a trio of models dressed in opulent bridal attire. Her muse was Shamaeel Ansari, which was handy, but really who else to pull off that flamboyant style than the designer herself? Ayesha Omar wore the Pink Tree Company in a riot of ethnic colours. Nosheen Shah looked stunning in Nida Tapal’s Delphi. Fahad Mirza arrived in a Humayun Alamgir tuxedo.
Urshia Hussain, Kanwal’s muse to the hilt in an ethnic three-piece coupled with a multicolored parasol, a pouch, a nose harness (nath) stretching all the way back to the ears, multi-tiered necklaces, the works. It appeared as if she was on her way to a wedding soon after fashion week. Certainly not a nice appearance for a red carpet that to showcase cutting-edge designer attire.
Sadly, despite as a participant on the gala’s ‘Pink Carpet,’ Iman Ahmed of Body Focus Museum did not send out her muse. Unfortunately, many of the designers who took part in this first portion did not think it was important to enter the venue and see the fashion displays. Their names screamed from the front row’s empty seats. That is just unfortunate.
But, once past these ominous starts, there were a bevvy of intriguing shows in store. Here’s a quick rundown…
A Maheen Khan performance to kick off an occasion is always a good idea. The veteran designer — and head of the Fashion Pakistan Council — played to her strengths with classic designs cut precisely and accented by subtle, exquisite embellishments. Two-pieces with buttons, precisely cut collars, frills and laces, and the iconic Maheen Khan cowl neckline were among the looks.
This casual wear evening declarations — eye-popping print pant-saris draped precisely. Maheen Khan has a keen eye for the small details that set an outfit out from the rest.
A series of handbags by Jafferjees that stretched beyond the brand’s normally austere designs and toyed with bright, young colours, shapes, and sizes complemented the outfits quite well.
A Maheen Khan show is typically an example of what a designer collection should be all about: individualistic, with restrained elegance, pushing limits rather than merely succumbing to a bling-smitten mass mindset. It also exemplifies the essence of a fashion event. Unfortunately, not every designer who walks the runway understands this.
You win some, as in Maheen’s instance, and you lose some, as in the case of the subsequent show…