Fashion Pakistan Week Winter/Festive 2015 (FPW15) was a curious blend of genres. Some designers opted to show eveningwear, aimed at the winter party season, while others chose to show bridals. The shows ranged from the mediocre to the sublime, with opener Shehla Chatoor and finale Nilofer Shahid being particular highlights.
With so many diverse collections, it makes sense to split them broadly into bridals and eveningwear, although some collections somehow aspired to straddle both categories. The majority of designers at FPW15 opted to show wedding wear, which I’m reviewing today. The eveningwear review will be up tomorrow IA.
Shehla Chatoor got FPW15 to a stellar start with her All The Raj collection. Celebrating 20 years in the industry, this is the first time Shehla has shown her bridal wear at a fashion week. Her intricate, opulent bridals have always been popular but Shehla brought them to the ramp with her usual fashion nous, blending traditional craftsmanship and modern silhouettes in a variety of fabrics. Standouts included an embellished velvet dhoti shalwar, off-the-shoulder velvet blouses and a fierce leather lengha with gold dabka embroidery. It was easily the best bridal collection of FPW15 and a tough act to follow.
Zaheer Abbas, Wardha Saleem and Faraz Mannan were the best of the rest in terms of bridals. Zaheer Abbas’ Faiz-inspired collection began with unconventional black, worked with gold into sophisticated, gorgeous ensembles. He moved through golds and maroons to a silvery showstopper, including cropped blouses, jackets, harem pants and other trendy silhouettes alongside saris and lengha cholis. The blacks were the stars, but Cybil’s beautifully worked silver gown with a mauve dupatta was also particularly eye catching.
Wardha Saleem built on a strong showing last year with another young and fresh take on bridal wear. She began with culottes, harem pants and cutaway tops before moving on to more traditional lengha choli’s, anarkalis and saris. She’s taken tukri work and made it her own, using it with delicacy and sophistication. Her subtle gold and maroon opening gave way to pretty turquoise, lime and coral – bright yet chic colours perfect for mehndhis. A bankable yet stylish collection by Wardha.
Faraz Manan’s signature technique of very heavy embroidery in subtle colours brings the cut of a bridal to the forefront. This time around, his Imperial Couture collection included some darker maroons and dusky pinks but it was his paler tones that stood out. The collection used embroidered belts and sweeping trails to great effect, although some of the belted silhouettes were not very flattering. Nevertheless this was a striking and elegant collection on the whole with plenty of dramatic flair. Notable pieces included a dazzling saffron sari worn over pants.
Umer Sayeed’s collection made a huge impact thanks to star power in the form of Mahira Khan, Shehryar Munawar and Adeel Hussain, the cast of upcoming movie Ho Mann Jahaan. All three have a substantial fan base and created plenty of excitement on the ramp. Umer’s collection was solid rather than groundbreaking, with plenty of pretty outfits but nothing truly spectacular. The inclusion of a pleated ombre turquoise gown, worn by Mehreen Syed who walked the ramp twice, was a little bizarre and added little to the presentation.
Nauman Arfeen’s menswear collection was very well done, combining dhotis, chooridars and shalwars with sherwanis, waistcoats and jackets over kurtas. He managed used pale hues with tone on tone embroidery to give a luxe yet understated look. The show made a strong impact and proved yet again that Nauman is a designer who understands menswear and how to put together a ramp collection. The only jarring piece was the one womens outfit he showed, a choli lengha – it was not on a par with the rest of his work and shows that menswear really is his forte.
Tena Durrani is a designer who’s come along in leaps and bounds over recent years. Her presentation was full of energy with upbeat music and fun choreography. Her collection included many pretty, trendy outfits but the collection lacked the focus to make an impression on the ramp. She needs to work at having a stronger signature and a definitive vision for a collection.
Zainab Chottani’s bright, colourful creations are popular commercially but her busy creations miss that certain sophistication that marks the best designers. Her strongest piece was a maroon Lucknowi sari worn with a Kashmiri-style chaddar. Zainab’s use of Lucknowi chikan-kari dyed in deep colours was a lovely idea that was lost in a mish-mash of other embellishments. Mehwish Hayat was an inspired choice as her showstopper but the outfit itself was a letdown.
Nida Azwer’s collection gave the impression of a rush job. Dangling threads and falling pearls marred the presentation, which left droves of pearls on the ramp. The predominantly gold and silver collection featured more 3-D embroidery and less of the classic intricacy that is Nida’s hallmark, though a few intricate pieces did stand out. Nida showed belted jackets worn with embellished dhotis alongside lengha cholis and the voluminous saris she loves to show. It’s a shame the finishing was not up to her usual standards because the collection contained plenty of interest in terms of silhouette and craftsmanship.
The best part of Deepak Perwani’s presentation was Zoe Viccaji singing La Vie en Rose live. Bridal collections should excel in terms of embellishment or cut, preferably both. There’s nothing wrong with using machine embroidery if you use it well, but this disappointing collection lacked the style we associate with Deepak.
Meanwhile, Obaid Sheikh’s music highlighted the flaws in his collection. While the designer had a definite vision, the monotonous music sapped energy from the presentation. While Obaid did show variety in his cuts and fabrics, the uniform palette and some shoddy fitting let the collection down.
There was little to redeem Hisham Malik’s showing. The collection felt amateur at best, with poorly finished, ill-fitting garments in cheap fabrics. He attempted to add pageantry using fishtails, can-cans and draping but drama needs a solid foundation. The collection sorely needed the attention of a mentor and that’s something FPC should address before giving Hisham another outing on the ramp.
Since Fashion Pakistan Council doesn’t have a dedicated bridal week, it was actually refreshing to see bridals on the ramp in Karachi at a credible fashion week. However, it was strange to see so much velvet on the ramp. While this was a winter fashion week, custom bridals are generally booked at least six months in advance. The collections being shown now will be booked mainly for summer weddings so it would have been better if more designers had shown summery collections like Nida Azwer and Faraz Manan (whose collection was summery in fabric and colour bar one velvet outfit). A few designers will have the capacity to give clients velvet outfits for this winter’s wedding season but bridals should be shown a season ahead in Pakistan.