The fashion week omnibus is just about to get rolling and spearheading it is the PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week (PLBW), set to take place in the coming week.
It’s a fashion week one looks forward to – in the burgeoning milieu of fashion events PLBW is typically able to set a few trends rolling into bridal’s generic blingy waters. One hopes that this remains the case.
Ensuring the fashion week razzmatazz are the usual suspects: HSY as show director, L’Oreal as the main sponsor and Nabila playing stylist while Urdu1 is the media sponsor.
What is missing, though, are certain fashion week regulars.
Karma, for instance, is a mainstay at the Pakistan Fashion Design Council’s (PFDC) fashion weeks but has opted out from the designer lineup this time. Khadijah Shah of Elan, meanwhile, is toying with the idea of a solo show later in the year. The designer has had her hands full with Elan’s booming unstitched and bespoke business as well as with Sapphire, the high-street brand for which she is creative director. According to her, she simply didn’t have enough time to prepare for PLBW. Also ostensibly missing is the Karachi designer contingent, with only Nomi Ansari and Sania Maskatiya flying in to Lahore to showcase their collections.
“Certain designers didn’t register by the deadline date and lost out on slots,” explains Kamiar Rokni, official spokesperson for the PFDC.
Say hello to the first-timers
It’s no wonder, then, that the second day of PLBW has been dedicated entirely to designers who are showcasing complete bridal collections for the first time. Most of these ateliers are hardly unfamiliar.
Mahgul, of course, showcased their luxury prêt with the PFDC earlier this spring and has been winning rave reviews for their spate of fashion week capsule lines. With a penchant for spinning twists into apparel and a distinctive signature, it is a brand that one always looks forward to. Their ‘Trunks of Sabine’, touted to be an amalgamation of traditional embellishments with 3-D techniques and atypical silhouettes looks promising.
Saira Rizwan, similarly, is a familiar name because of her consistent unstitched collections and social media reach. The designer certainly has a hold over the market-friendly pretty aesthetic and it will be interesting to see if she manages to steer it towards pushing the bridal wear envelope.
Shiza Hassan is a young designer who has slowly been building her atelier and it is good to see her try her hand at the catwalk with the prodigiously titled Aroos-e-Abrashami.
Farah and Fatima are set to diversify beyond their shop in D.H.A. Lahore with ‘Shahnoor’ and so is Samsha Hashwani who has a delectable little store in Karachi’s E-Street but is making a long overdue runway debut with the dreamily titled ‘A Mughal Mirage’.
New designers are usually hit and miss and day two may bring down standards for PLBW, some may critique. But then again, most of these designers can hardly be considered new and besides, PFDC’s Chairperson Sehyr Saigol has quite a reputation for strongly mentoring fledgling ateliers. “She has been working very hard with them,” confirms Kami, “and besides, if we don’t give promising new designers a chance, how will they improve?”
Welcoming the veterans
At the other end of the spectrum are some of fashion’s most wonderful. It’s interesting to note how most ateliers are focusing on bringing back traditional silhouettes as opposed to dabbling with modern cuts.
The House of Kamiar Rokni’s self-explanatory ‘Heritage 2016’ is a throwback to timeless bridals of yore, promising ghararas galore, grand dupattas and traditional embellishments like the chata-patti, gota, zari and kiran. “These are clothes that transcend trends and can be worn year after year,” describes Kami.
Nomi Ansari plays with color and the festivity of Hyderabad with Marjaan,featuring farshi ghararas, lehngas and an effusion of floral embroideries. Zara Shahjahan’s Mehrunnissa is an ode to the Urdu-speaking era with Lakhnawi influences and references to the older world of Lahore. “We have developed all our fabric in-house; kamkhwab, raw silks and beautiful nets,” enthuses the designer.
Sonia Azhar returns to the PLBW catwalk after some time while Ali Xeeshan’s finale act is bound to be high on theatrics – and perhaps, fashion.
Quintessentially, Sania Maskatiya is merging conventional wear with modern tweaks with her ‘August Dream’. The designer had hitherto focused more on offering trousseau options on the catwalk but this year she will be dabbling into a wider variety varying from Mehndi-wear to the wedding dress.
MUSE presents a ‘modern day princess bride’ with ‘A love like ours’; a collection largely constructed with raw silk and organza and embellished with the design house’s characteristic metallic embroideries and sequins.
Saira Shakira’s ‘Zohra’ is also expected to emulate the designers’ predilection for modern detailings.
Possibly the most extensive collection to be shown this year will be by HSY. The designer has long been talking about traversing Europe and creating bespoke fabric and embellishments for his couture house. At PLBW, we’ll be able to see the fruition of his efforts.
Divided into four separate capsules, the show is going to tell the story of a kingdom. The first segment, titled ‘Kalajar’, will speak of mythical men and women who may exude power but are yet to develop their strengths on the inside. The second, ‘Mehkar’, talks about dreams and hopes. Moving on, there’s ‘Khace-Sahil’; the world at the brink of the sea coast, where one conquers or gets conquered. Finally, there’s the eponymous ‘Sheristan’, which celebrates love and victory.
“It’s an extensive collection which speaks of the way my design house has evolved and my love for couture. I have been working on it for several months now,” says HSY.
“Each capsule depicts a certain mood. ‘Khace-Sahil’, for instance, is in spicy hues of orange and chilli greens with jacquard worked extensively with silk thread and modern boot-cut trousers and jackets. In ‘Kalajar’, we have used techno-fabrics and Eastern influences. ‘Sheristan’ is replete with embellishments that are a part of our genealogy; gota, dabka, tilla, on jewel-toned fine fabrics. I have created heirloom pieces rather than mere trends. There is also menswear and some very interesting footwear.”
Standing out amongst the milieu is Republic by Omar Farooq, presenting a line dedicated solely to menswear.
Also taking center stage will be a range of jewelry brands and some funky, elaborate styling. The House of Kamiar Rokni’s line-up will be complemented with jewelry by Sonica Jewelers and Zara Shahjahan is working alongside Amrapali. HSY has created accessories in-house, ranging from ethnic statement pieces to safety-pins, dipped in gold, and constructed into jewelry.
From our vantage point, it all looks promising. But bridals have long become notorious for falling into ruts, where everything begins to look the same and leaves one cock-eyed with bling. Will PLBW up the ante or veer into the mundane? We’ll know soon; the bridal season’s just about to swing in.