In today’s age and time, fashion dominates the world and controls not only the way people dress but also trends in home ware design, makeup fashion and their overall attitudes. Fashion is not just a means of clothing your body, it is the essence of your personality and beliefs, and is also a means to staying close to your roots.
This notion was observed in the recently organised British Council PoliNations Pakistan Costume Show held at Commune Artist Colony. PoliNations is a part of Pakistan-UK Season programme launched earlier this year to mark the 75 years of Pakistan. The programme showcases the cultural wealth and contemporary creativity of both countries, facilitating professional collaboration for culture, creative and education sectors, with a focus on a shared future through building lasting partnerships. It emphasises on challenging perceptions, particularly amongst the younger generation in both countries.
PoliNations Pakistan Costume Show was a partnership between designers of Pakistan and UK, with an aim to create an artistic response to the themes of celebrating diversity and the cross-pollination of culture, exploring the influence of journeys along the Silk Road and the history of tea. Laila Jamil, Director Arts, British Council Pakistan shared her views on the event, “The British Council is very pleased to have enabled this cultural exchange programme between UK and Pakistani artists. It’s exciting to have collaborative projects for fashion and music under the Pakistan-UK Season. This is a great programme for learning and future collaboration in the arts.”
Created and produced by Trigger Collective, PoliNations is part of the UK-wide UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. This project will culminate in September in Birmingham 2022 Festival that will showcase multiple art forms. The festival will celebrate the beauty, colour, and diversity that makes up British horticulture and culture. Up-and-coming and renowned artists from Birmingham and beyond will perform at the festival. Just like UK, Pakistan is a diverse country with various languages, cultures, customs which are evident in our art forms as well, be it music or fashion.
As part of the festival, costume designer Joey A Frenette travelled to Pakistan to collaborate with renowned Pakistan based designers Yousuf Bashir Qureshi and Riffat Aliani during a residency in Karachi to design and create costumes influenced by the journey of tea, for the special performances in Birmingham. The designs were created in collaboration with Yousuf Bashir Qureshi Studios Institute and were showcased during the PoliNations Pakistan Costume Show.
After this event, the costumes will be transported to Birmingham to be showcased in a spectacular fashion by renowned dancers for a special series of performances at the festival.
“This is a collaborative project as part of PoliNations festival that will conclude in the UK. Under this project, the designers from both countries worked together to create costumes for the performers in the Birmingham festival, bringing both countries and nations closer to each other,” commented Yousuf Bashir Qureshi.
The dresses showcased at the costume show were intricate, trendy and closer to Pakistan’s roots. Following the theme of tea and garden, the colour palette chosen for the costumes was pastel. Dresses in light green and peach with a touch of garden print on it or plain with fancy buttons enhanced the simplicity yet elegance of the dresses. Even though it was a collaboration between both countries, yet the designs were very traditional enhancing the cultural ethos of Pakistan. The long kurtas, angarkha style kameez and peshwas style dresses, all had a very conventional and ethnic feel to it. It will be an honour to have our traditional dresses flaunted in the UK at the festival that will be attended by people belonging to different art forms from across the country.
PoliNations Creative Director and Artistic Director of Trigger, Angie Bual said, “We are so excited by the creative opportunity and collaboration this partnership provides. Exploring, celebrating and learning from the diversity and creativity across our cultures is at the heart of what PoliNations is – so being part of this season and collaborating with such talented Pakistan-based creatives through the programme is a really exciting opportunity for us.”
The Pakistani designer Riffat Aliani was of the view that this has been a great exercise to build the bridges between the two countries. Joey Frenette has been here for a while now and it has been a pleasure working alongside him, exploring from his exposure and working collaboratively for costumes to be showcased in the UK.
The event concluded with a soulful musical performance by distinguished sitar player Rakae Jamil, who wrote and recorded two new compositions responding to the themes surrounding tea and the tulip. The audiences sat down on the floor right in front of the stage to listen to the beautiful renditions of different raags and were mesmerised with the beauty of the instrument.