Faraz Manan brings his Nawabi collection to Karachi

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
Faraz Manan’s Nawabi collection at Ensemble Karachi

Ensemble recently gave Karachi-ites the opportunity of a closer look at Lahori designer Faraz Manan’s latest collection. The talented, mercurial Manan burst on to the fashion scene in 2003 and impressed with his flair for cuts and elaborate detailing.

Parisheh James in Faraz Manan
Parisheh James in Faraz Manan
A regal bridal jora by Faraz Manan
A regal bridal jora by Faraz Manan

Manan never formally studied fashion but grew up seeing the design process up-close in his mother’s fashion business. When he started designing himself, he quickly became popular for his extravagant yet tasteful outfits. Manan subsequently developed something of a reputation for delayed deliveries and a somewhat unprofessional attitude but all that changed when the Crescent group took him under their wing. It is a relationship that has been hugely beneficial for both parties. Manan has added a sophisticated touch to Crescent’s entire line, from lawn to luxury pret. Manan’s studio is similarly run on more professional lines, leaving him free to do what he does best – design.

Faraz Manan's signature look - Opulent yet understated
Manan’s signature look – Opulent yet understated
Faraz Manan at Aptma fashion show
Manan’s Aptma show

The Ensemble exhibition showcased Manan’s Nawabi collection, which is luxurious, opulent and stylish. The collection was first seen at the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association fashion show in December 2013. Manan described his inspiration,

“My collection celebrates the cultured, well-travelled Nawabs of the last century. I had in mind the type of people who would bring back French chiffon and Chantilly saris from Europe. Although firmly rooted in the sub-continent, they would be broad-minded, educated and cosmopolitan.”

Faraz Manan at Aptma fashion show
Glittering elegance from Faraz Manan

The bridal and formal outfits at the exhibition were exquisite. A subtle palette of tea-pinks, dull gold and soft greys offset ornate embroidery featuring large crystals, sequins, threadwork and kora dabka.

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
A close-up of Manan’s embroidery
Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
Manan’s work is delicate and very neat

Manan explained how he prefers to use pale colours for this sort of elaborate embroidery for a more chic look. The collection did include a few colourful outfits but with more diffuse embroidery to maintain that ornate yet sophisticated look.

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble KarachiFaraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
A chic short silhouette that we’ll be seeing more of this year
Manan exhibited a variety of cuts including loose short shirts with cigarette pants and long fitted gown-type ensembles. A selection of these was worn by models in a short fashion presentation. The formals in the collection were uniformly gorgeous and showed both technique and flair.

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
Elegant and striking
Interesting but somehow unfinished
 The exhibition included more than just his APTMA showcase. Manan included some experimental pieces that would probably have been edited out of a true collection. While these showed some design brilliance, they detracted somewhat from the impact of the collection. Similar pieces that were more in keeping with the Nawabi theme would have made more of an impression.
Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
Beautiful outfits in-store
Faraz Manan at Aptma show
and how they looked on the ramp

While the couture pieces were worthy of a senior designer, Manan was let down by the pret Diffusion line. These pieces, made in conjunction with Crescent consisted mainly of simply stitched embroidered tunics.

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
The pret tunics were pretty but somehow underwhelming – and not worth the price tag

Much was made of the fact that all the fabric is made in-house and in not available in the general market. However, while the embroidery is pretty there are plenty of fabrics available that give a similar effect – various stores that sell fabric that gives the same luxe effect for a much lower price.

That said, the tunics were well stitched and elegant.

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
Rs30 on a Rs36,000 outfit – and broken, uneven ones at that – unforgivable

What was unforgivable was the use of cheap buttons. If you are going to charge Rs36,000 for a pret outfit then you really shouldn’t finish it with Rs30 buttons. Worse, some of the buttons were broken or irregular sizes.

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
The stitching was excellent
Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
Slightly better buttons

Manan was quick to distance himself from these faux-pas,

“While I design the fabrics the actual design and execution of the pret is left to my team at Crescent who are generally fashion school graduates. In terms of the broken buttons, my flight was delayed 6 hours so I arrived shortly before the show and was unable to do my usual final cross-check.”

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
The finishing on the couture outfits was impeccable

While these are mitigating circumstances, the fact remains that Manan is head of design. Many labels these days have a design team including HSY, Sana Safinaz and Sania Maskatiya. It is up to the designer at the helm to ensure that everything produced by the label meets the same high quality and design criteria and this is what the best labels manage to achieve. Cross-checking aside, cheap buttons have no place on such an expensive jora.

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
The effect given by Manas’s pret line for Crescent

Which brings me to the other grievance against the Crescent/Faraz Manan pret. It is fearsomely overpriced. Designers like Elan and Misha Lakhani offer much better value for money – their outfits in this price range have more of an oomph factor including more detailing. Manan’s outfits may be pricy because of the expense of the fabric but the overall effect is not that different from what can be achieved with fabric from similar stores. Designers like Mehreen Menahel, Layla Chatoor and Saniya Maskatiya will give you a more fashionable look for significantly less.

This Menahel Mehreen jora is formal, elegant and price much lower than Manan’s Crescent pret
Of course this is comparing apples and oranges. You cannot compare a minimalist designer like Stella McCartney with an extravagant label like Versace. Moreover, designers are free to charge what they like. Azzedine Alaia will charge extravagantly for a deceptively simple dress while Topshop can offer a similar look for a fraction of the price. What matters is that Alaia’s finishing will be flawless and his fabric will be very different from Topshop’s. Although Manan’s prices are very high across the board, I feel the detailing, finishing and flair of formals justify the astronomical price tags. The label’s Diffusion line is not simply up to scratch and not worth the asking price.
Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
Faraz Manan at Aptma show
The Nawabi collection in-store and on the ramp

This event was wonderful opportunity for Karachi’s fashion lovers to see Manan’s couture up close. He has creativity, expertise and immense talent.  Ensemble is great space for an exhibition of this sort. The courtyard outside provides ample space for television crews to do their interviews while the spacious indoor area can accommodate a large number of people. Frieha Altaf had arranged a winding catwalk that encompassed the entire store so that no matter where people stood they were able to get a good close-up view of the models.  This is crucial, as otherwise photographers tend to swamp the catwalk in their eagerness to get the right shot.

Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi
Nadia Hussain was awesomely poised, as usual
Faraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi

What wasn’t so great was the inexperience of a couple of the models. There were some brilliant senior female models but there were also two models that were not up to the mark. A smallish exhibit may be a good place to get some practice but these models needed more preparation. In an event designed to showcase outfits, it is inappropriate to put up models that walk too quickly and don’t know where to stop so photographers can get a good shot. I’m all for healthier looking models but they should carry clothes well and they should know how to work a catwalk. Other than that it was a well-organized event with a good mix of press and buyers. It’s great that Lahori designers who don’t have a presence in Karachi are bringing their collections here for this sort of exhibition.

Faraz Manan at Aptma showFaraz Manan's Nawabi Collection at Ensemble Karachi

This season we’ve had a chance to see bridal collections by Zara Shahjahan, Kamiar Rokni, Elan and Faraz Manan. Hopefully, this is a trend that will continue as it makes a world of difference to see the clothes up close.


Copyright 2015 Karachista. All rights reserved
Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerastahttps://karachista.com
Salima Feerasta is chief editor of Karachista.com and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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