By Muhammad Asad Ullah
Can a digital or virtual experience ever replace the real thing? Over the past year, many designers, not only in Pakistan but worldwide, have been forced to at least try. And over the year, only a few brands managed to produce new collections, choosing to create films, podcasts, and playlists instead, until February. The trend of virtual fashion show seems to slowly fade away now as the world is trying to move back to the ‘normal’ with added masks-on and Covid-19 SOP’s in place. But until there’s a Covid-19 vaccine available to all, flexibility is the key. February was a small, careful step towards resuming a ‘normal’ fashion week in Pakistan as Bridal Couture Week took place in Lahore with suppleness for the audience and media to attend live or follow what’s being showcased on the ramp via social media coverage of the event thanks to its strong PR Team.
Arousing fashion week from Lahore this season it was, in one way or another, about ardour through originality. The sturdy, clear- cut voices that obtruded in the melee of shows were from designers who dared to be themselves and thus offered clarity with choices. Bridal Couture Week holds the reputation of bedecking trends and doing quirkily well commercially for the designers; encapsulating their latest bridal wears trawled over for months. However, this season where it was about everything bling, cascading stars and traditional silhouettes, it also took a slight slump with collections that never should’ve been made – or in another, never really allowed on the catwalk. Everyone is inspired by everyone, but simply taking the plagiarism route in the creative industry is not so creative after all. The puff this time around started long before the scheduled date and lineup was announced majorly because of the two reasons: one because it was the 10th year anniversary of the fashion week and second perhaps, why not because physical catwalk was laid out in the country after a long, long time.
Zooming in on the fashion, here’s what we loved from BCW this season.
He’s got the moves, he’s got the motion! Classic wedding wear will never go out of style, indeed it is the mainstay of most designer. Fahad featured classic heavy bridal with intricate work, but he updated it with his choice of motifs, interesting colours and the highlight of the show, very flowy silhouettes. There wasn’t a stitch out of place, the detailing of the layers, even the ones barely peeking though was tremendous. There were silk pieces digitally printed, re-embroidered with yet more intricate details, gold and gota embellishments, and tilla work not just on front panels but stretching right to the back (just because). The effect is both folkloric and refined. The one shawl that particularly grabbed the attention was the one adorned by Waleed Siddiqui. Who knew black, ferozi and gold could make such a wonderful combination, so festive and caterwauled luxury in every sense. Fahad caters to mass appeal and knows how to put on a show. Fahad’s comeback after announcing bankruptcy last year is one of the best things to happen to Pakistan Fashion Industry and that’s because such designers lay down a pathway for others to follow and following such details and theatrics is nothing but a visual treat, for the one wearing his clothes and the ones looking at them.
The way Ali Xeeshan mixes colors and fabric together is artistic. Molded in golden wires with tilla and succha work in the earthly hues and fiery sky, Ali Xeeshan’s ‘Numaish’ was a chimera of bright vibrant colours with intricate embroidery and work along with the latest techniques of laser cutting, and block printing. Satiny gold, silver and pink yet edgy patterns, and peacocks assembled a glorious impact on the ramp. Aiming to let the colours do the talking, the collection featured cuts and silhouettes with contemporary touches on tulle, cotton net, tissue trials and brocade tailoring cholli and lehngas. His collection aimed towards discouraging the practice of giving dowry. A child bride came out walking with model Hasnain Lehri, tugging a trolley laden with dowry behind her. In another visual, Hasnain Lehri was the dulha walking out in a makeshift car prop, surrounded by the female bridal entourage. Ali’s bridals are immediately recognisable and they does it with flair. Neon green saree and blouses and popping blue and pink lehnga choli were statement pieces. Loved how the block colours meshed so pleasingly. Va Va Voom!
Zaha Couture featured modern Pakistani bride in shararas to gowns and harem pants, it mused in the shades of silver, blue, white and very delicate pink. We’ve seen Khadija Shah doing wonders, playing around – and this erroneously wasn’t the best she could come up with on the ramp in terms of experimenting with the silhouettes, cuts and couture. However, in terms of playing safe and presenting a commercially viable collection it was quite a head turner with a straight 9. Apart from exquisitely crafted bridal womenswear pieces, they also featured some menswear creations that blew in royal grace feels to it. Khadija seems determined that she doesn’t want to change the heavy textured bridals she does. Consisting of chiffons, silks and floral patterns, the collection and workmanship was lovely and intricate and so were the dupattas with the tassels. The peacock feather pattern in gold making its way on the gharara and slightly coming out from the open long panelled shirt was visibly edgy!
Alishba and Nabeel:
It was probably Nabeel’s first runway showcase after his fall out with long time partner Asifa Imran. Did anything seem to affect his designs? Absolutely not! Rather they took on a route of absolute delicacy and femininity. The use of thread work with motifs placed down the front of the kameezez provided linearity to the silhouettes. The ensemble was rich in culture Alishba and Nabeel were displaying as they offered modernity with pastels they had chosen for this collection. The piece that their showstopper Hira Mani wore featured traditional embroidery techniques with real craftsmanship, net dupatta and an inspiration drawing out from the Victorian era. Oh that royal pageantry.
Her haute couture outing for BCW was entirely devoted to the precious dignity of such beautiful but quiet clothes, pieces sculpted and pleated and constructed in such a way that they could literally never exist in prêt-à-porter . . . or at least with any notion of proper fit. The palette was blush, celery, rose, tea, and every interpretation of nude one might imagine. There was a deliberate dryness to the proceedings—literally, in the choice of fabrics (matte duchesse, double-face, crepe) and handwork (macramé, wood bead embroidery, ribbon embroidery) and also traditional kamdani, naqshi and dabka work. These are serious clothes, Faiza seemed to be saying, made by the finest hands and meant to be appreciated by women who are beyond the flimflam and easy glam of our times.
The collection by Haris Shakeel unfolded like a fairy tale on the ramp with the rainbow of colors – a treat for the eye. Pairing contrasting hues with a dash of finesse, Haris remained no bashful to experiment through his collection and presenting nothing obnoxious for the fashion critiques. The collection featured cuts and silhouettes with contemporary touches on tulle, cotton net and brocade tailoring cholli and lehngas for women and floral embroidery jackets for men.
Munib’s this year collection at BCW was one of the most impressive yet. Munib re-imagined bridal wears as separates for 21st century which didn’t stop him from being cheeky enough to send down a bright yellow menswear ensemble paired with old school gorgeous pink and teal heavily detailed lehnga choli for womenswear teamed with equally pretty dupatta (you gotta look at the pallu details!) – and he made it work out! Such wonderful contrasting, bright hues. So very lively. In plethora of duplication (referring to certain plagiarist wannabes) Munib held his own understated signature that borrowed the best of tradition and left the volume behind. Men’s wear included sherwanis and suits – as usual with the cuts that only Munib offers in the industry — quirkiness that resonates with his relates to his personality so well. Va Va Voom Munib! We want to see more of such designs coming from your side and setting trends.
Umsha by Uzma Baber:
Whirled with gold and embellishments, the Umsha by Uzma Baber opened their showcase with heavily gilded off-white ensemble. Putting the ramp on fire from golden and maroon tones, the fashion powerhouse of the country played well ending up on the pastel hues. The collection best exemplified the designers who are on ball with what they are doing…The silk blouses with jacquard lehngas, embroidered gowns, peplum cuts, long jackets and mandarin collar jackets – you name it, they showed it; enhancing the feminine appeal of the collection. Umsha’s attention to details was so microscopic that it’s hard to pull a copy of its work.
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