FPWSS16 – Fashion Pakistan Week Review

Fashion Pakistan Week Spring Summer 2016 showed flashes of brilliance (like those pictured above) but, like PSFW before it, was marred by a lack of creativity from some of Pakistani fashion’s biggest names. Spring/Summer collections are vital; with our tropical climate and almost year-round summer, they should dictate the pace of Pakistani fashion for the coming year. Unfortunately, what we saw was precious little originality and very few collections that genuinely excited.

This was a shame because there were so many things that that council got right this time round. The red carpet space was huge, with fashion installations (albeit some older collections), lounges, the requisite Magnum Bar and a myriad of different backdrops for different sponsors. These made traversing the red carpet a bit of a trek but were better than the badly-lit, overcrowded backdrops that make for terrible pictures which we’ve sometimes seen in both Karachi and Lahore. There were international link-ups, the TDAP connection and a ramp that was a great height for social media. The ramp in particular is a tiny detail that makes a huge difference.

The saving grace of FPW, suprisingly, was a high street brand. Generation has been impressing for some time now but their “A dot that went for a walk” collection was a revelation. Designer Khadeeja Rahman played with sihouette and texture, adding subtle embellishments and layering to great effect. Particularly creative was a long, slightly sheer shirt with a bright shalwar underneath. Other eye-catching outfits paired shalwars with a variety of layers. A high street collection that can make jaded fashion journalists sit up and say “I want that”?! This was high street showing high fashion how it should be done.

Zaheer Abbas also put together an understated but interesting collection. An all-white collection is difficult to do, putting all the emphasis on cut but the collection showed plenty of originality and was full of alternatives to boring kameezes. I’m not sure exactly why Zaheer thought it necessary to add a rooster to the proceedings but this was a solid collection from the talented designer.

Sonya Battla also showed an all-white collection but hers was an avant-garde collection that was all about fashion as art with no thought for wearability or commercial viability. Fashion, of-course, needs designers like her who push the envelope and this collection was certainly out-there. From a skirt made of bubble wrap to an odd ball-like construction, this was masterful experimentation from an exceptional designer. She showed virtuoso skill in terms of both surfaces and construction and Nabila’s styling added that additional element of drama. Battla added a much needed dose of creativity to the proceedings but in the midst of general mediocrity the collection made less sense than it otherwise might have done.

Wardha Saleem was one designer who did rise to the occasion. Originally created for her fashion scout showcase in London, the collection used print, laser-cutting and a mix of fabrics to great effect. From trench-coats to tunics to harem pants, the collection had a hip, edgy vibe. Little styling details such as high-heeled sandals worn with socks added to the appeal while the hand-painted bags created by Jafferjees were a winner.

Huma Adnan also showed one of her stronger collections: an understated, wearable hippie-chic collection that blended ethnic elements and fusion silhouettes well. This wasn’t cutting edge fashion but it was a bankable, trendy boho collection.

Although Generation was spectacular, the rest of the high street is still finding its place at fashion week. AlKaram and Lala need to go back to the drawing board. Lala made an effort to show a luxury pret style collection but they would have been better served by focusing on their pretty fabrics and showing something that made more sense commercially. Al-Karam showcased their prints but the collection was simply a little dull (though i think anyone following Generation would have had a tough time)


Kayseria also showed formal wear but their ethnic luxury pret will actually be in store and was beautifully styled. The collection didn’t really stand out at fashion week where a more high-fashion vibe is necessary but this was a solid, bankable high street collection of clothes that many customers will actually want to buy and wear.

Jafferjees also showed a bankable collection, giving their presentation a trendy twist with clothes by Warda Saleem. I especially loved Cybil’s sari and the way it was styled.

Both menswear collections at FPWSS16 were noteworthy. Amir Adnan’s relaxed summery collection was excellent – both in terms of style and styling.  The kerchiefs and dreadlocks gave the collection what one journo termed a “pirates of kolachi” vibe. With linen kurtas, turned up cuffs, layering and a mixture of sharp and relaxed tailoring, this was an eye-catching collection.

Nauman Arfeen also used linens but his colorful palette segued from brown to blue to shades of rust and coral. While the fit wasn’t quite as sharp as we’ve come to expect from Nauman, this was the most fun presentation of the three days. Arfeen sent both children and senior citizens down the ramp with more conventional models to a popping sound track, with Amin Gulgee adding some manic energy as Arfeen’s showstopper.

Gul Ahmed could have done with some of that energy on the ramp. The collection was actually passable, using the textile giant’s prints – particularly their chunri print – in a colourful ethic collection. There were some fun details such as pom-pom earrings and chappal that echoed D&G sandals but the ramp presentation was let down by some truly awful music – a wierd, slow wailing music that had no ethnic vibe at all. The music would have made a huge difference but Gul Ahmed also need to work on cohesiveness. Their “design by committee” structure may work in terms of providing variety for retail but ramp needs a strong vision.

Gul Ahmed Trendy chappal with a D&G vibe
Gul Ahmed Trendy chappal with a D&G vibe – the top left is Gul Ahmed, the rest D&G

Vision was an area where some major names stumbled this time round. Nida Azwer and Ayesha Farook Hashwani both showed mediocre collections that included some outstanding pieces but which overall lacked direction and impact. Nida Azwer showed a mix of eastern and western, reworking silhouettes that she’s been doing for over a year. While the dhoti/peplum combo is just about still relevant, the organza skirt really needs to be retired. Ayesha Farook Hashwani’s collection started strong but dwindled into a messy mix of designs that don’t reflect her usual sophisticated aesthetic. Zainab Chottani had a strong vision with her denim collection but the designs were a little hit and miss.

Deepak Perwani and Shamaeel Ansari stayed true to form but seemed to be operating on cruise control.The Fix It collection was quintessential Deepak – cosmopolitan and polished but there were too many cuts that have been doing the rounds. Shamaeel’s collection needed editing – there was simply too much going on with print and layering and embroidery. The collection also stuck to a rich palette whereas a more summery feel would have been better. Both designers are capable of pushing the envelope more. Gulabo got its groove back after a terrible showing last time round. The easy, breezy collection was true to Gulabo’s signature – a fun fusion collection but again nothing ground-breaking.

The younger bunch of designers Aamna Aqeel, Zainab Salman and Natasha Kamal failed to impress. Both Natasha and Amna were caught replicating designs with their showstoppers while Zainab Salman didn’t really seem to know where she was going with the collection – she showed prom style dresses, wraps and a host of conflicting styles, though one or two pieces had promise. Amna Aqeel’s neon and stripes collection also suffered from bad  fit – the too-tight clothes created unsightly bulges which is unforgivable at this level. I did like the headband and sunglasses styling for Natasha Kamal and the collection could have been a fun, resort-style collection with some editing.

The trends show was a glimpse of what might have been, with designers Delphi, Sanam Chaudri, Obaid Sheikh and Maheen Karim sending a mere four outfits down the ramp each.

Overall this was a fashion week with too few exciting collections. Neither FPW not PSFW created the sort of excitement or cutting edge fashion that fashion week should. Spring Summer fashion sets the tone for the rest of the year but with so many designers focusing on the lawn gravy-train, these first fashion weeks of the year lose out. Designer burn-out is an international trend but one that Pakistani fashion cannot afford.




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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