It was a relief not to walk through the metal detectors and polished marble interiors of a hotel, as has been customary for Fashion Pakistan Week for over a decade. FPW took its Spring Summer 2019 edition outdoors this season and set against the backdrop of swaying palm trees under a moonlit sky. Amidst a fresh and very refreshing Karachi breeze, it came forth with a completely different energy. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the lineup was any better or any worse than it usually is, but just the renewed energy and the streamlined nature of the event was enough to top it up with bonus points.
The three-day FPW SS2019 took off with a Sana Safinaz solo show on day one, and like everything Sana and Safinaz do, the performance and its style quotient were delightful. The extensive collection began with an expression of color and texture in what could be best described as an ode to the East; this segment carried clothes from the Sana Safinaz ready to wear wedding line, newly introduced for young women looking for quick options. The palette and treatment weren’t necessarily classic Sana Safinaz, but it was perhaps a nod to the brand’s more youthful, millennial clientele. The collection, aptly titled Message from the East, then proceeded to more substantial, luxury pieces that would be customized. Replete with bows, ruffles, and elegant silhouettes, this was more of what one is used to seeing from the brand. Putting it all together in one showcase just ensured that it offered something to everyone.
The thing about solo shows is that they give the brand space and the liberty to flaunt their vision beyond the clothes. It’s important to conceptualize the show space, the look, the props, and accessories, which isn’t always possible when seven collections have to be shown, back to back, on the same runway, the same day. Sana Safinaz created that mood board by putting up faux trees in full blossom, allowing an exotic air to embrace the evening.
Moving on, the rest of the shows may not have been so extensive, but it was a brilliant idea to separate the remaining two days into one for casual, pret-a-porter, and the other for luxury and wedding wear. Contrary to what we have been witnessing and disapproving for so many years – a confusing medley of all sorts of brands, that is – the Fashion Pakistan Council took a decision and just separated the genres. It was a very welcome decision.
Day Two presented Generation, Boheme, Gul Ahmed, Alkaram, Nauman Arfeen, Obaid Shaikh, Yasmin Zaman, and Sania Maskatiya. The different aesthetics of each designer kept the day enjoyable, preventing it from falling into a dull lull even when the collections weren’t too exciting. Generation usually holds one’s interest for its take on social causes; such was the case with No-Nonsense Nighat, a sartorial comment on feminism and bringing leitmotifs from a past era back to the modern-day dressing up. Did the visuals – models marching out to the sound of Talal Qureshi and Naseebo Lal’s fiery ‘Aag’ look good? Yes. Will they prove to be powerful enough to bring the paranda back? Probably not. On the same streak of ethnic commitment, Kanwal’s collection for her brand Boheme was more cohesive and wearable. One can never get enough white and ivory cotton styled in traditional silhouettes for Pakistan’s long and arduous summer. This collection offered some intelligent solutions for dressing up and standing out.
Textile brands have historically struggled at fashion weeks simply because – no matter what anyone says – fabric is not fashioned unless it’s styled forwardly. But the curse was broken this year by textile giants Gul Ahmed as well as Alkaram. Gul Ahmed took the wearable route to ready-to-wear options in mostly white formal clothing, but MAK by Alkaram, a brand created by veteran designer Ather Hafeez, was sporty and more tuned to active day wear. Both brands branched beyond traditional jars in their creative vision and presented quite a few exciting options, which will be available in stores.