I have written time and time again about the how grooms and men in general are often ignored during weddings and bridal ceremonies. Pantene Bridal Couture Week S/S 2014 did show not one but two dedicated menswear designers during 3 day extravaganza. There is little that can be done about menswear in general it is primarily a play of fit and proportion of the elements like a collar, lapel, cuff or length. I personally dont do weddings and own like five kurtas for eastern events. So I sat down with two friends who are getting married soon to decide what did they feel about the clothing and here is what I picked as hits and misses from menswear:
Amir Adnan‘s collection was titled ‘Mann kunto maula, fa haaza Ali-un maula” and took inspiration from Amir Khusro’s poetry eulogizing Hazrat Ali A.S. . The collection was based on color palette of “khaak (khaaki), sabz (green), lahoo (red), dhaath (metals), mashq (old leather) and moonga (coral).” I loved how the islamic calligraphy and decorative borders were replicated onto clothing. The fit was roomy yet structured. The Persian technique of ‘siyah mashq’ using repetition of amir adnan in persian script turned out really beautiful. My favourites were the heavily embroidered sherwani on Asif Rehman, and the rustic orange brown ensemble on Shahzad Noor.
Mansoor Akram ‘ Amina Yasmeen‘ collection featured few menswear options and most of them used black and white as primary color palette. The fabrics of choice seemed to be velvet and raw silk paired with mostly white roomy pajamas. Although I am not too sure if real grooms(or most men) would wear these pallazzo like roomy dhakka pajamas on wedding events or otherwise. Save the piece on Hasnain Lehri, almost all other pieces featured arms sleeves that were cut too tight turning the male silhouette into an hourglass female one. Chest measurements were also a bit too tight also could also have been a cm or two roomier. But i simply abhor the embroidered kurta on Abrar Khan.
Zainab Chhotani who is primarily a womenswear designer also turned out several menswear looks in her collection called ‘Shehnai‘. Starting with quintessential array of colorful kurtas in purple and rich fuchsia pink which had vomitful amount of embroidery, I wish she showed some restrain. Then these were followed by three really tasteful champagne gold hued sherwanis on Rizwan, Abbas Jafri and Omer Shahzad. She should stick to these as these fit well, and looked great. But then came a Umar Sayeed-esque embroidered black sherwani on Ahsan khan, it not only looked tacky but the his antics made it look bad.
Kuki Koncepts ‘Bidai‘ themed collection tanked in menswear as well. Starting with men in sarongs and kurtas and then moving on to conspicuous jackets. I am not sure whether it was Varanasi borders or the construction on a whole. Save the look on Tabish Oza and Hasnain Lehri there were atrocities one after another: a rather effeminate jacket on Omer Shahzad, they boxy number on Abrar but he really took the tumble with the two ugliest turquoise numbers on Shamoon Abbasi and Waleed. Come on Kuki! Things are pretty ugly in our country on their own please don’t add insult to the injury.
Nomi Ansari’s ISHQ collection was a vibrant play on red hues. Starting with models donning red kurtas with practically acceptable amount of embroidery(because I can see people buying them) and then moving to kurtas paired with red/gold Jacquard waist coats. The monochromatic color palette somehow ended up looking tasteful because of simpler cuts and fewer embellishments. Achkans(softer fabric, one pocket, no lining version of sherwani) and Nehru waist coats referenced Indian nobility. My favourite was the achkan on Hasnain Lehri specially because of the button details. Beautiful!
Zaheer Abbas also went for heavy historical references for menswear in his “Jashan-e-Janan” collection. His lineup started with a group of models wearing dull white muslin kurtas paired with pajamas and pink turbans. I felt that the length of kurtas could have been a good 4-5 inches shorter and he could have used a heavier weight muslin that was less translucent. These were followed by models wearing traditional Mughal Jama(the frock thingy) paired with dull gold Nehru waistcoats in somber shades of pink and green. Although the collection was high on historical references I doubt if they could be worn straight off the runway. I wish he made the models wear the ensemble he wore himself. I loved his look.
Mifrah tried to emulate culture and imagery of Lucknow’s awadh nawabs starting with raw silk and jamawar sherwanis in pearl-cream white, maroon and hints of bronze. They were mostly no-nonsense designs with little or no experimental elements. My picks were the sherwani on Yasir Mazhar and the patterned number on Shahzad Noor.
Nauman Arfeen showed a lot of options proving why he is one of the popular menswear designers in Karachi,starting with kids dressed as shehbalas in colorful sherwanis. The show featured kurtas, sherwanis in various forms, and a selection of colorful Nehru jackets. Like Mifrah he played it safe with designs that he knows would be received well and actually worn by men. I think I spotted a sherwani on Shahzad Noor and Rizwan Ali from his ‘sands of time’ collection both of which were my favorites. The blush hued sherwani on Hasnain Lehri and the black sherwani on Shamoon Abbasi were two others that I found palatable.
Deepak Perwani one of the forerunners of contemporary designer menswear in Pakistan also touched base with costume history. For menswear he put forth layering by putting a sherwani over traditional Mughal Jama, pajama and patka(loose textile draped across shoulders and arms).The caps also referenced nawabs of Indian subcontinent. Probably men would respond relatively favorably to Perwani’s reduced flair of jama and the fact that it concealed the frock like silhouette. Pairing champagne and sand gold with yellow and somber orange rustic orange somehow made it all look fresh and not dated. My favorite was the Persian orange hued jama+sherwani ensemble.
I have always been on the fence with Asifa & Nabeel due to their rather tired designs. Their collection titled Noor-e-Kuar collection took inspiration from Princess Noor (of Bahawalpur Noor Mahal). The kurtas looked conspicuously similar to the ones they showed at PFDC Bridal Week last year. If I had to pick something, I would pick the royal blue kurta on Tabish Oza from their assortment.
Faraz Manan‘s Istanbul collection was beautifully executed display of metallic celebratory costumes. There was kurta, nehru jacket, waistcoats with pants and sherwanis. The collection offered all the quintessential pieces in the color palette of silver, Chartreuse green and nude gold. The way fabric wax embellished with crystals and thread-work made it look luxurious. I had two favourites one was the nude embroidered kurta on Omer Shahzad and the silver sherwani on Shahzad Noor.
HSY‘s orchid collection had a number of sensible menswear options with mostly sherwanis in sandstone, white and beige as the primary color palette. Thankfully the cottony fabric choice didn’t seem heavy and warm. The Moroccan lattice pattern also elevated the ho-hum nature of the relatively somber color palette. I quite liked the sherwanis on Asif Rehman and Rizwan Jafri. But the white one on HSY himself stole the show.
Besides these there were a piece or two in the power house collective show but as you saw there isn’t really that much of a choice when it comes to menswear. Those ugly kurtas with large patches of embroidery are still presented by some designers not to mention atrocities such as those by Kuki Koncept which were actually worn by real people at SunSilk PFDC fashion week last month. Besides one or two designers nobody is really investing energy in evolving menswear in Pakistan for the better. I hope more and more designer start offering menswear maybe only then the market will become competitive and start offering better products.