As I sat down to watch the Day 3 of PSFW, I saw that I had received several messages in my FB inbox accusing me of fawning over certain Karachi based designers and being unfairly harsh towards Lahore council. I let out a judgmental laugh, gave them a PR friendly answer and headed for twitter. Mostly because what would I get out from flattering womenswear designers? And also I am not even from Karachi to begin with so hell with the councils be it any city/camp. Moving to fashion itself I had been looking forward to Day 3 because it had 2 major menswear brands Republic, Bareeza Man and the dark romantic Fahad Hussayn, the Dame of Drapery Iman of Body Focus Museum.
For the first time I wished I was there in person but here is what I thought about the collections:
The day started with a tasteful presentation by renowned pret brand Generation. Their collection titled ‘Water on Ajrak’ used light fabrics such as organza, nets, voile, crepe and sheer cotton blends with ajrak design motif embellishments and prints. As the name implies the colors were also muted and washed down with majority in the white, ecru, spearmint green, cherry blossom pink, and champagne beige tones . I am usually not in favour of reinventing traditional crafts like ajrak as it often comes across as cheesy, but Generation somehow managed to do it in a tasteful and contemporary way. The silhouettes could have been more dramatic but then they are a retail brand not couturiers.
With a name that sounds African,Roodaba Omar was the next with her collection titled ‘Tehzib‘ taking inspiration from the Moroccan art and architecture which is often replete with Arabic calligraphy. Enough has been designed and blogged about in reference to Islamic art in fashion but Roodaba primarily thought that the prints will do the work for her. I assume she probably went to Morocco or bought a coffee table book but did she really see the what you were doing? Not only did the garments look tired but sadly even the prints looked dated I saw these digital prints back in 2011. Rabi Centre, Gulf and Aashiyana markets are stuffed with better prints than these.The two white dresses that I like were the only saving grace. Why this Kolaweri di?
Thankfully the next one to present was Bareeze Man, even in my Sunday Times interview I had written that I want to see approachable and affordable menswear. Their collection titled’ ‘Self-Discovery and Other Dalliances’ was a tasteful mix of menswear that was not “dabba pack” shirts and pants. I really liked the re-imagined classics like the cottony motorcycle jacket, the suede safari jacket ala Ralph Lauren and that interesting pant with quilting detailing on the knee (which reminded me of pants by Balmain). They also incorporated camouflage but even that pattern was a little updated. The color palate mostly composed of creamy white, army green, tobacco brown and stone. But it was their use of suede and hints of orange that won me over. Only complaint is that I don’t see it in their Karachi stores 😦
Last in the high street showcase was “the original lawn” Gul Ahmed,which sadly had little originality in its design and presentation. The collection titled ‘Ethnic meets Contemporary‘ so basically like the Saddar bus, everybody and everyone took a wide on it liberally, picking inspirations from Wardha Saleem, Sania maskatiya, Gulabo and what not. I wonder what do designers in such big organizations do and if they just design lawn prints, then they shouldn’t attempt doing such uninspiring and insipid work. Gulahmed will continue to sell, but in terms of design I would “lawns” are greener at other textile brands. All the pun intended.
After this roller coaster of collections, my adernaline was soaring high again with Fahad Hussayn‘s collection name ‘Kaala Pani‘, in his signature dark romantic design aesthetic. Thankfully the colors were kept minimal, transitioning from blacks, greys, a very faded gold, bronze brown and even some prints. The black and white prints looked a lot like McQueen’s, but then he has been compared to him time after time. I wasn’t a big fan of bronze pieces and the way he put in some eastern pieces reflecting a very Indian silhouette. My favorites were printed blazers and pants on men, and I loved the minimal black dresses in the beginning.
And it went uphill with Omer Farooq‘s menswear label Republic, his collection named ‘Back to the roots‘ took inspiration from the brand’s very first collection. I really liked his nod to 1920s menswear with wider lapel on the jackets creating a wider shoulder shape with a narrow waist, with contrasting footwear to modernize it. He also designed some really cool smoking jackets in pastels coordinating them with other light hues. There were some strong elements of 1970s wide stripe, plaid, windowpane, double-breasted jackets and 3 piece suits with notched lapels. For me he nailed it with those bright-colored bags, shoes and scarves. The looks on Daud Sultan, Waleed, Shahzad Noor, and Salman Ali were my favs. I want them all! Why don’t you have retail store in Khi?? Or even an online store arghhhhh
With Iman of Body Focus Museum to follow, I was literally grasping for air. I have never been this positively excited for as long as I remember. Her collection titled ‘Sartorial Philology and Deconstruction‘ meant that she was going to historical records aka the DNA of clothing construction. As the models started to walk down the runway I could see how over the years with almost negligible marketing and PR she has established a very staunch image of contemporary draping and indigenous design aesthetics. I am intrigued to know that her fabric was all hand painted. I loved those tribal-esque ear pieces they made the clothes look kinda dark and strong. These may not be her best designs but I still kinda liked it. Like Ms. Chatoor on Day 2 she was wearing her best design that reminded me of a lot Carolina Herrera’s look.
Next to follow was Maria B with her ‘Ladakh connection‘ collection, taking inspiration from her Kashmiri roots she rolled out pretty ready to wear pieces one after another. As I watched the models walk by all I kept hearing from my sister how she would like to buy this or that. Maria B surely has her mind on the money with those prints, lots of separates options and the jewelry was just the right amount. *Parhe likhe designers aur dusron men yehi faraq hota hai* THIS IS PRET A PORTER *screamed like 300’s this is SPARTA*
Nida Azwer miraculously managed to show yet another intricate and beautiful collection in such a small time after FPW. this new collection of herr titled ‘The Urban Jungle Collection‘ incorporated both flora and fauna elements on cotton nets, silks, chiffons and organzas. Everything was in a very subtle colour palette featuring primarily white and grays. I just loved her use of sheer and the fact that had so many options of silhouettes to choose from. My favs were the sari on Hira Tareen with the full sleeved blouse, and the long coat gown with grey insert on Sabeeka.
The finale was Karma Pink ‘Karma ki Rajasthani KahanI‘ the presentation started with models doing a weird dance move on Chuma Chuma De(what’s with lahori brands and inappropriate music). I was so put off I put the audio on mute and went to have my dinner. 2 minutes into the show I realized the clothes were actually nice, the kind I like. I loved the matha patis, and the black dots on the faces. I am also quite appreciative of how they reinterpreted the so-called Rajasthani design elements in western silhouettes.
Day 3 was so good, so much so it left me a bit sad because I couldn’t be there and somehow everybody on the mainstream press seemed to disagree with my opinions on the collection.