It all began with an advertisement in the press. The British Council Pakistan announced call for applications for the globally run Fashion DNA Project in collaboration with the Fashion Scout and London Fashion Week.
Fashion DNA is a designer mentorship for emerging Pakistani designers organised by the British Council. Although most of the designers cannot be said to be emerging as far as Pakistan is concerned, development on a global scale was the goal. Designers like Maheen Khan and Sonya Battla are grande-dames of Pakistani fashion rather than emerging designers but in terms of taking Pakistani Fashion to global stage, everyone is a novice . The programme takes the format of a year-long intensive training, including face to face sessions, online sessions, UK catwalk shows and showcasing, Pakistani catwalk shows and showcasing. In addition to the mentorship, participants are invited to apply their new skills through the production of a ready-to-wear collection with a clear brand positioning with a capsule collection presented at UK-based Fashion Scout during A/W17 London Fashion Week. They will be showing the full collection at Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi shortly.
Following an open call process,six designers were chosen by a panel of industry experts, including Martyn Roberts, director of Fashion Scout; Rebekah Roy, Fashion Stylist; and Ayesha Mustafa, founder of ethical e-commerce site Fashion Compassion. Mentorship has been delivered by UK experts Toby Meadows, Fashion Business Consultant and author of the international best-selling Book How To Set Up And Run A Fashion Label; Carri Munden, stylist, Creative Director and founder of the cult label Cassette Playa; Safia Minney Mbe, founder of People Tree; and Sury Bagenal, Designer and Sustainable Fashion Design Consultant.
Maheen Khan, Sonya Battla, Hamza Bokhari of Jeem, Zuriya Dor and The PinkTree Company went through several mentoring session in person and on Skype with Toby Meadows, Safia Minney, Sury Benegal and Carri during a period of six months. The aim was to produce collections that break boundaries and create a global appeal for Pakistani fashion.
Building on the success of the first cycle in 2015-16, this year’s designers have put together some great collections. Mentorship has focused on fashion business skills, sustainable and ethical production, branding and communications. The catwalk shows at Fashion Scout during London Fashion Week A/W 2017 were styled By Rebekah Roy. The show offered an insight into the burgeoning fashion scene in Pakistan showcasing contemporary design, culture and textiles to the London Fashion Week audience.
On Feb 18, the majestic Freemason Hall played host to six collections that presented an eclectic range of Pakistani fashion. The venue was packed to capacity and reverberating with energy and anticipation. You can see the complete collections here by clicking on each designer name.
Photography by Shahid Malik @iamshahidmalik