Pantene Bridal Couture Week 2012
Bridal fashion design in Pakistan goes beyond big-name haute couture to include fresh talent and home-based designers, and the vision of the organisers of the Pantene Bridal Couture Week – sponsored by the Hum Network – is to incorporate all three designer groups on their ramps in Karachi each year. The fourth annual showcase of this bridal extravaganza was held in Karachi, April 13-15, and was an outlay of the diverse talent that creates traditional and innovative bridal clothing in Pakistan.
Bridal fashion trends have evolved dramatically in Pakistan over the years and have gone beyond tradition to avant-garde fusion, where traditional cuts, designs and workmanship techniques have metamorphosed to present-day eclecticism. While a classic bridal avatar shall never go out of fashion, the modern Pakistani bride now wears anything from a heritage farshi gharara and kurta to modern lehenga-inspired long skirts with ruffles and trains, paired with floor-length worked chiffon or organza coats. The variety of designs, cuts and combinations, as well as a high quality of workmanship is what makes Pakistani bridal couture the finest in South Asia and in incredibly high demand locally and globally, especially by the Pakistani Diaspora across the world.
Mona Imran opened the night with a collection which comprised heavily-embellished farshis with churidars and aizaars – quintessential bridal wear.
Aamir Baig’s collection was regal and truly ramp-worthy. The brilliant tones of his outfits, beautifully embellished with traditional embroidery and banarsi silk made for a breath-taking display, and we look forward to seeing more of the designer’s creations in the future.
Obaid Sheikh kept his collection strictly traditional. The menswear seemed reminiscent of another era entirely as men walked down wearing sherwanis with either gold embroidered borders or geometric motifs. Turbans and fez caps adorned with jewellery, and khussas completed the look. For the women, Sheikh kept it simple with long kameezes and lehengas, gold embroidery around the neck and motifs and borders.
Saba Ansari used the BCW platform to focus attention on the nuts and bolts of any fashion show: hair and make-up. Swathed in white silk dresses by Zaheer Abbas, models walked down the ramp wearing outrageous hair extensions in shades of raven black, fiery red and sunny blonde. Ansari had even fashioned hats out of extensions for several of the styles and in some cases, created gravity-defying hair styles that made one wonder whether the models had, somewhere in between all the extensions, poles stuck to the back of their heads. While Ansari certainly injected some zing into an otherwise rather traditional show, one wonders how appropriate it was on the bridal catwalk.
Argentum displayed an assortment of traditional jewellery using polki and kundan. The label divided the jewellery into four colours for the four different bridal functions: yellow for mayun, green for mehendi, red for the shaadi and ivory for valima. Innovative though the idea, it ended in too many segments of too much.
No one can deny fashion industry veteran Nomi Ansari’s talent or technique. However, his collection, while far better than the rest on day one, was, perhaps in lieu of his reputation as an innovator, a bit disappointing. All it did was show pretty girls in pretty, albeit more of the same clothes – heavily embroidered and embellished outfits in shades of pink, red, pastel blue and green. The chatapati borders he used in several of his creations often seemed out of place. Maybe Ansari is suffering fashion show fatigue!
Day two began with Zainab Sajid’s collection that was pretty enough, but somewhat busy – in some cases a single outfit featured five different colours. Sajid’s monochrome saris and crimson and black bridal outfits, such as the one worn by showstopper Humaima Malick, were, however, more successful.
Humayun Alamgir showcased his menswear collection featuring sherwanis that were even busier than Zainab Sajid’s bridal outfits. Perhaps if Alamgir had toned down the embellishment and colours, the creative tailoring would have stood out more and some pieces such as a dhoti-shalwar hybrid, although not for the average groom, were certainly well executed.
The ‘Hijab’ Collection was divided into different colour segments. The peach outfits were quite pretty but the long flowing kameezes were so two years ago and the outfits with the sequinned faux-necklines were downright tacky.
Shamaeel Ansari offered a different take on evening wear. Black and copper were recurring colours and she presented knee-length angharka-style kameezes – a departure from the long silhouettes in fashion today. Her cohesive, restrained collection was a welcome change from the other collections of the day.
Ruby Shakel probably wanted to deliver glamour, but instead her clothes veered on gaudy. Showstopper Shahista Wahidy’s pink and green bridal outfit, for instance, featured both heavy kaam and delicate lace.
Saim Ali’s collection ranged from pretty to hideous. Pretty was the off-white and pink lehenga worn by Lollywood starlet Sana, and hideous the Pakola green and Fanta orange outfits made of cheap, synthetic looking material.
The last designers of day two were the Indian duo Rabani & Rakha. While some outfits were muted and sophisticated, others were straight out of a Bollywood production. The designers mostly made use of sequins and nets, and the pleated net dresses were masterfully sewn.
Asifa and Nabeel’s lehengas were augmented with trains layered with ankle-length worked kameezes, and with floor-length chiffon and fine silk sleeveless front-open peshwaz in off-white, gold, peach, red, orange, turquoise and navy blue. Fusion chic: a gold-bordered red sari-style pallu worn with navy and red farshi pajamas and a floor-length off-white coat.
Tabassum Mughal’s collection displayed some fine workmanship, especially her off-white chiffons heavily embellished with gold kaam, and peacock-inspired outfits using feather motifs and turquoise shades. Iraj flaunted a semi-circular, high tiara in a faux-regal look which just didn’t sit pretty even though Mughal’s fully-worked long front-open coat with gold work over a blood-red peshwaz was striking.
Monia Faruki’s runway couture was inspired by the western, minimalist approach mostly a sleeveless, low back, spaghetti-strap, off-the-shoulder look with silver embroidered motifs on gauzy, flowing, white and shimmery black materials. Her bridal outfits were the same long kameezes, broad ghararas and chiffon worked dupattas. Morning show hosts Hira and Mani were the showstoppers flaunting the classic black sherwani, red gharara combo – nothing new.
In the second showcase of the evening the label ‘Cara’ – Imran Iklaque and Mustafa Shakeel – displayed styles similar to those shown by previous designers. Iraj stood out in a white worked heavy lace, diagonally layered skirt with a satin bustier creatively arranged with pearls in the hair. Zeba Bakhtiar was lovely, if a bit lost, in a purple and pink traditional gharara, but former cricket captain Younus Khan was a star in a black velvet sheen sherwani adorned with a Mughal-inspired pearl necklace.
Sheikh Faisal and Zaheer Abbas rendered an eclectic look in their display of fine jewellery made in Pakistan. Their collections: Swarowski crystal chic meets traditional kundan and polki.
The final showcase, The Grand Couturiers, was a compendium of Pakistan’s top creators of haute couture, a sure and short list of the best in the industry. Each model displayed a bridal creation – what a bride would wear on the day off – in a gorgeous coming together of design, fabric and embroidered work. It was a pleasure to behold the best of bridal fashion in Pakistan, where each and every taste palette was reflected in the swaying ghararas and lehengas on the ramp.
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This article was originally published in the May issue of Newsline under the headline “Something Old, Something New…”
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