The HUM showcase brings fashion centre-stage

Can we talk about the HUM Showcase? In a season overburdened with fashion weeks (FPW in March in Karachi and PSFW just two weeks ago in Lahore), the HUM Showcase stood out on so many levels. From the lineup to the set-up to the collections, this was an event that put Pakistani fashion centre-stage and made many of the jaded fashion cognoscenti sit up. Having sat through far to many mediocre fashion events in recent seasons, the QMobile HUM Showcase made me fall back in love with Pakistani fashion.

A lot of credit has to go to legendary designer Rizwan Beyg, who not only persuaded some of the biggest names in Pakistani fashion to take part, but also got them to take the platform seriously. Iconic designers like Bunto Kazmi and Umar Sayeed rarely show. Bunto Kazmi makes no secret of the fact that she doesn’t do ramp as she doesn’t make collections as such – every piece is bespoke. When she is persuaded to do a fashion presentation, the result is usually a mish-mash of pieces from her private collection and ensembles lent by clients. Consequently, her ramp shows often don’t reflect her versatility and sometimes not even the depth of her artistry. This was not the case in the HUM showcase – Bunto Kazmi showed a range of silhouettes and techniques in a collection that made sense in its flow. It was a joy to see.

Similarly, Umar Sayeed did not simply show his (admittedly gorgeous) opulent bridals. His “Ode to Zainab Market” was a brilliant amalgamation on international trends and local artistry with a distinctly kitsch approach. Personal favourites included the denim jackets and jeans embroidered with threadwork and kora dabka and the fabulously intricate tree-of-life palazzo pants worn by Sadaf Kanwal.

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At some fashion weeks, I’ve struggled to find 3 brilliant collections but to be honest there was hardly anything I disliked at the HUM showcase. From Shamaeel Ansari with her lavish ensembles to Sania Maskatiya with a cool take on modern luxury, practically every designer brought their A-game to the table.

In fact it even high street labels upped their game for the QH Showcase. Khaadi’s long-awaited Chapter 2 showed the label returning to its handloom roots with an eye-catching structured collection that segued from monochrome to bright primary colours. Updating the traditional handloom stripes, the collection played with geometric prints and boxy silhouettes.

Khaadi plans to champion the handloom industry, bring back the use of this fabulous fabric and transforming it into urban fashion. It’s an exciting new direction for the iconic brand.

Ideas Pret was one of the surprise hits of the showcase, with a fashion-forward collection of luxury pret that is part of their new Bespoke line. Focusing on a palette of midnight blue, greys and crisp white, the collection combined the brands signature intricate prints with contemporary fusion cuts.

Stylist Amal Qadri’s understated styling and effective editing was one reason the Ideas collection stood out. Hiring a stylist is especially important when you have a team of designers working on a collection but is, in any case, a practice designers should adopt. A good stylist has the vision and the distance to bring out the best of a collection on the ramp. The design team also gave credit to Beyg’s mentoring, saying that his critique early in the designing process helped them to crystallise the direction of the collection.

Beyg’s own collection stuck to his beloved white-on-white refrain. Putting together a pure-white collection is one of the most difficult things to do as it puts a very strong focus on structure and construction but Beyg’s collection was masterful. Lace, embroidery and textured fabric provided interest but it was the play of structure and form that really made the collection stand out. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Beyg’s work on the ramp here in Pakistan but it was worth the wait.

Rizwan Beyg Hum Showcase 2017-4

Another senior designer that showcased after a long gap is Faiza Samee. Although designers like Samee have an exemplary track record and an enviable client list, it is important that they show their work on the ramp from time to time. Not only does this document their development as a designer, it brings their work to the notice of new generations of fashion lovers. For me, what stood out were Samee’s gorgeous bolero jackets, her craftsmanship and the effortless progression from contemporary to traditional silhouettes. She has a fantastic eye for colour and the way her combined and contrasted hues was another highlight.

Nomi Ansari set the tone with a typically colourful, beautifully cut collection. His ‘Night in Paridise” was a glorious Technicolor creation bursting with joie de vivre. Wardha Saleem drew inspiration from Russian Babushkas for a collection with a young, contemporary vibe.

Faraz Manan’s silver and gold palette, intricate embroidery and chic silhouettes showed why he’s making such a name for himself, particularly in the Arab market – no mean feat considering Arab women are some of the most fashion savvy and discerning clientele in the world.

Zaheer Abbas’ immaculate monochromatic collection is also worth a mention. The talented designer rarely disappoints and his HUM showcase presentation was characteristically sophisticated and elegant.

Other memorable moments include Adnan Pardesy with his origami-like treatments of fabric, HSY’s flowing silhouettes and organic dyes in Love Letters, Inaaya’s modern, funky take on Rilli and mirror work and Ahmed Bahm’s pristine tailoring.

We’ll be putting up all of the collections on Karachista as usual so drool away and celebrate the fact that Pakistani fashion once again showed the brilliance it’s capable of. The HUM team have said that the showcase will InShaAllah be a regular feature of the fashion calendar – I certainly hope so. After years of being an also-ran on the fashion scene with Bridal Couture Week, which gets patchy participation from the big names in fashion and which is considered inferior to council-led fashion weeks, HUM have vaulted to credibility with the HUM Showcase.  Kudos to Rizwan Beyg and the entire team.


Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerasta is chief editor of and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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