Four fabulous collections and fashion week

Fashion Pakistan Week was just wrapped up. Mohsin Sayeed was on hand to pick out the best

Four fabulous collections and fashion week
A number of words beginning with the letter ‘F’ can be used to describe the recently concluded Fashion Pakistan Week 2015. I promise I will stick to the good ones. To begin with, it celebrated the current festive season. Therefore, almost all collections had a festive, opulent feel to them.

The usual humdrum, crazed energy and madness-with-a-method welcomed guests as soon as they entered the red carpet arena. There were more cameras than people actually worth being photographed. Women preening in their own - or borrowed - designer finery were posing for clickers and bloggers. Hashtags were hogging phone screens. Chic Ayehsah Hashwani glided down the red carpet in her own stunning number. Her effortless style and down-to-earth personality brew a fine blend that makes her charms irresistible. Another stylish fashion professional is Sadaf Munir-Jalil, of the brand SanaSafinaz, who always looks glamorous and gleaming.
There were more cameras than people actually worth being photographed

A simply dressed, tall, beautiful girl approached me, clicked my picture and handed me a small white card while I was talking to a camera crew. “Your picture will appear in two minutes on it”, she said with a bright smile. “Darling, I don’t think I look like a blogger or young enough not to know what a Polaroid is”, I said to her. “It’s no longer Polaroid, it’s Insttax. It’s just that I have to explain it to people as they are not used to paper photos any longer”, she replied while correcting me.

Nilofar Shahid

tft-44-p-16-g tft-44-p-16-h tft-44-p-16-i

This was Farwa Naqvi, the third generation of the Naqvi family, who has recently joined Fuji Films Pakistan, her family business. And just as intelligent, young minds bring a fresh approach to all businesses, Farwa is doing the same to Fuji Pakistan. She then led me to the kiosk of Fuji and proudly showed the visionary work Fuji has done in collaboration with Fashion Pakistan Council. And both organisations deserve accolades for the project.

Fuji has printed fashion books of previous FPW weeks. Pictorial compilations of two fashion weeks were printed in a big size. There was a book of some behind-the-scene male models at FPW and a collection of pictures with a twist called ‘Left Profile’: having all pictures of the models’ left profiles, compiled in various sizes. “The plan is to shoot all FPW15 collections every day and produce a high quality book. These books will be delivered to all participating designers by FPW the next day”, she elaborated.

This project really excited me. The Fashion Pakistan Council has taken a grand step towards the documentation of the history of fashion in Pakistan from now on. The project has been possible because of the newly imported technology that has combined speed and quality in production. Gorgeous, gleaming, glossy books are now possible, as technology is capable of producing 20 books in an hour. Fuji has made documentation, limited edition coffee-table books and so many other possibilities real and affordable for all industries, and fashion can greatly benefit from this service.

Some of the books produced through Fashion Week
Some of the books produced through Fashion Week

This fashion week I got a chance to view some collections from a unique vantage point. While the front row offers an up-close and personal view of collections necessary for review and critique, the production platform offers a bird’s eye view of not just collections, but the whole show arena. The production platform pulsated with controlled hysteria, tension that could be cut with a knife and deafening silence despite thunderous music. This is the place that issues commands live, and these are obeyed on the ramp, lighting panel, backstage and on screens. This is the control room from which emerges the final outcome. Hats off to Freiha Altaf, who sailed the ship with great calm and supreme command. Not once did she lose her nerve while signaling the models when on to stop, when to turn, or while issuing commands to lighting and sound crew and coordinating with backstage crew. Raheen Mani, the voice that introduces sponsors, designers and requests to the audience, is a signature at all FPWs now. The running joke between Raheen and I is that she will be severely punished for exaggeration and, at times, the bundles of lies she announces. I suggest various punishments for her, ranging from a lifetime sentence of wearing the clothes she praises to the skies or an on-mic bout of truth. Being on the platform struck me with a strange but explosive idea: how much fun it would be to do a live commentary orcritique of collections from the platform, a la cricket commentary and broadcast on TV and radio? I am just thrilled to imagine the scenario.

tft-44-p-16-m tft-44-p-16-n tft-44-p-16-o tft-44-p-16-p

Out of 20 collections shown at FPW15, just four were collections worth discussing. From the concept to construction to embellishment, silhouettes, palette and final rendering, they were complete. Nothing was left to be desired. Each was remarkably different from each other, and yet the common thread was attention to detail, solid thought that went into putting them together and a sophisticated soul.

Saniya Maskatiya sent a capsule collection comprising eight looks down the ramp. It was a complete departure from the fashion house’s earlier work. The Japanese paper-art Origami-inspired collection boasted of clean lines emphasising soft sculptural silhouettes from crepes and raw silk as opposed to the fluid, flowing ones - a hallmark of Saniya Maskatiya. Relying on fine tailoring, the collection stayed far away from prints or embellishments. Solid jewel tones like teals, royal blues and magentas paired with ivory played a great host as a palette to bring forward the essence of refinement and simplicity. This collection had the power to be a game-changer in bringing simplicity, tailoring and solids back in trend.
The Fashion Pakistan Council has taken a grand step towards the documentation of the history of fashion in Pakistan

From his first Raven collection shown at the second FPW, menswear designer Nauman Arfeen has a come a long way. From experimental to exquisite, the journey has been exciting, progressive and full of milestones. FPW15 heralded a mature, deep and seasoned Nauman Arfeen. For inspiration, he turned to power symbolised by the elephant. But the dexterous handling by Nauman translated the concept into collection elevated power to strength. Heavily embellished sherwanis screamed of sharp tailoring and showed how a good designer incorporates heavy work without compromising on silhouette or cut.  Sophistication of palette, refinement of embellishment, sharply tailored silhouettes and sprinkling of trends like dhoti shalwars, all came together to present an ethereal collection that announced maturity and excellence. Creating an interest in menswear and turning it into couture was no small feat, and Nauman has achieved brilliant success in this endeavour.

tft-44-p-16-q tft-44-p-16-r tft-44-p-16-t


Umar Sayeed presented a collection that bore his hallmark craftsmanship; colour-blending and expertise in handling elaborate silhouettes. A palette that ranged from elegant ivories to greys with a generous sprinkling of turquoise and vibrant hues went well with his supremely intricate embroideries and the result was a sparkling, glittering breath-taking ensemble. After having seen his clothes extremely up-close all my life, it was a sensational experience to see them in motion from an indifferent distance. Each detail of each motif was crystal clear, blending with others making fabulous, stunning patterns that were not only a treat for the eye but oxygen for fine aesthetics. The cherry on top was his glittering finale of stars Mahira Khan, Adeel Hussain and Sheheryar Munawwer: the scast of Asim Raza’s much awaited magnum opus Ho Mun Jahan. Cameras, audience and the media all went wild. The ace designer not only knows how to create stunning ensembles, but also how to capture the attention of audiences and the media.

And then Nilofar Shahid’s Rembrandt collection came in the grand finale. Nilofar had been obsessing and dreaming of this collection for nine years after a visit to the Rijks Museum. Nilofar is synonymous with richness, regality, larger-than-life collections, but this time she has outdone herself. From Rembrandt’s etchings of his dark period to his religiously inspired works, she has successfully managed to translate all the refinement captured in strokes: the play of light and shade, colour and above all soul of his works, into pieces that just mesmerise the viewer. But it has not been an easy journey. She heavily researched this artist, read up extensively on his life and works, listened to lectures of art experts and absorbed all the relevant details she could get on the phenomenon known as Rembrandt. If I were to put the whole effect in one line I would say: grandeur at its grandest, with a sensitive soul. There was one red jacket worked in zardozi that provided testimony of Nilofar’s profound understanding of fashion, craftsmanship, fabrics and silhouettes. If she had just done that one piece, it would be a collection unto itself. Nilofar proved that elegance, legacy, grandeur, depth and elan are just not words that can be used recklessly, but in fact they are a philosophy. And only an intellect as supreme as Nilofar’s is entitled to use them liberally - as concepts or as a label - just as she does with her Meeras.