First of all, let it be said in black and white: Lahore is a total mood. Lahore style is also a mood, and the people of Lahore are a vibe and a half. You would never meet such unapologetically fun people in the K and I of KLI.
With that observation in place, why wouldn’t the Lux Style Awards (LSA) come of age in the magnificent city of the fabulous? It makes absolute sense to get the glitteriest crowd, to the glitziest venue, and give shiny trophies to everyone. Lahore passes the vibe check on every count.
The event did not disappoint; a red carpet popped with lights and stars. The vast entrance within sported an elaborate hors d’oeuvres and dessert bar, sleek black tables dotted the area, where one could rest their well-heeled legs, catch up with peeps, and enjoy
a spectacular Rina’s Kitchenette brownie.
Once inside the darkened auditorium, the buzz in the air, and the excitement, seemed a little more for the opportunity to dress up, attend one of the most prestigious events within the entertainment and fashion industries, and see and be seen, than for the actual event. There was a lot of meeting and greeting, which obviously we cannot begrudge anyone. But where was the thrill of seeing the stars, crossing fingers for your favorite to win, for just the pure joy of seeing the industries that quite frankly, are the bread and butter for almost everyone in attendance, being honored? Perhaps it was what CEO Unilever Pakistan, Amer Peracha noted in his opening speech: with the arrival of social media, everyone can be a star, and anyone can be a fan. We couldn’t agree more.
What this means though, is that a platform like the LSAs then bears the responsibility to sift through the many stars, and find the best, and then the best amongst those, and reward this excellence. The LSAs, after all, have been at the epicenter of the industries in question, with an LSA win meaning you had arrived, or had established your presence, or were just so outrageously talented that the trophy was always yours.
The 21st LSAs get full marks on a couple of things: the hosting and the performances. Fahad Mustafa, Tabish Hashmi, Mansha Pasha, Dananeer Mobeen and Osman Khalid Butt kept everyone entertained. Tabish Hashmi has the wit and persona to make the joke and get away with it, and he had Lahore belly laughing to him.
The tribute performance of the night was for filmstar Anjuman – is there any other way to describe her? – by Humaima Malick to ‘Sonay Deya Kangna’.
The upbeat, beat-heavy Punjabi number had the audience dancing in their seats, and Humaima Malick and her backup dancers brought the energy, and the moves.
Amar Khan and Kinza Hashmi were exceptional in their performance to Nazia Hasan’s ‘Ao Na’. Osman Khalid Butt had the stage of Abdullah Siddiqui’s version of ‘Boom Boom’.
The performances were high-energy, bright, as glam-orous as you could hope for. Even the Asim Azhar performance, which was
a lot more staged and dramatic, was quite seam-lessly done.
Really, there was nothing that one could say that was wrong with the LSA ceremony. Everything was well-managed, well-planned, well-executed, as far as someone sitting in the audience could tell. The two masterminds behind almost every LSA to date, Fareshteh Aslam and Frieha Altaf, may disagree, but that would be because they knew what was on paper and what happened in theory.
The only irregularity, and perhaps an unforgivable one, was with the actual awarding part of the show.
In a world where everyone is a star to their audience of 10 to 10 million and more, there is a need to draw a line between social media clout and actual substance. The nominations process this year, as far as we understand, allowed contenders to submit their portfolios, the submissions uploaded on a portal, and then the floor was open to anyone to vote for their pick. This shortlisted into a top 5, which made up the nominees, and a highest vote scorer, which would be the winner.
While this process sounds very democratic and compliant with the times, where as mentioned somewhere up there, cele-brity has become rather democratic and accessible too. We have all our stars at our literal fingertips, do we really need an award show to tell us who’s good?
As it turns out, yes. That is literally the one job an entity like the LSAs has. Pick the best. Then pick the best. Have a qualified jury for each category nominate names and debate over the winner among those. If you leave things up to digital, in what we will assume was a wholly unchecked process, random clicks and paid fans may come into play too.
This is not a harsh judgment, not when the nominees and winners at the ceremony, when announced, seemed painfully unfair. Let’s point out an easy one: even if you don’t really like Pakistani music, does it seem a bit irregular that Hasan Raheem wasn’t even in the running for Music Icon of The Year? You know Hasan Raheem, right? His music is everywhere, he is everywhere, he is the guy brands think of when they’re picking young ambassadors for their young audiences. Not to mention his massive fan following and the almost flawless music across genres he makes. But okay, maybe he didn’t get the memo about submissions? Keep an eye out for submission ads next year, Hasan.
Slightly more compli-cated categories lie within fashion. While the nominees within the category of stylist were worthy for sure, the submission/voting model for nominations ensured that some of the best were missed out. If you don’t see Mehek Saeed, or Amal Qadri nominated, then something didn't work as well as it should have. Among stylists, or note that the insanely talented Mahoor Jamal never made it to the list of photographers nominated.
A mass audience may be able to vote for the most popular designer, but not everyone knows or even cares about the stylist or photographer. This is where you would need a Tapu Javeri or Aamna Isani to throw in their two cents.
If the brand team at Lux wants to evolve a digital voting process (in which the viewer’s choice option was really A-okay) that casts a wider net, involves more people, and ultimately, may be makes the consumer feel more connected to the brand by being part of the process, they have to put more thought into it. How can they ensure the process is transparent and judicious? How can they create checks for vote quality rather than quantity?
Lux has always been an aspirational brand, tied to celebrity and beauty, to fashion and style. It is an association they have spent decades building. It is always understandable when brands want to expand the demographics they appeal to, but compromising on quality for engagement really isn’t the way. Numbers never lie, and you can apply every analytic tool to calculate clicks and engagement, but you will then have tunnel vision which cannot see that while the audience has increased by 300% and engagement is up by 512%, the quality of engagement, and relevance of audience has significantly decreased.
Unless the Lux Style Awards are working their way towards becoming an event for the masses, in which case they will have to drop the previous associations they have built with certain industries, a serious review of this show, and the process that led to it, is needed.