As we look back with a sense of pride over the last 12 months, we can’t help but come up with a list of nagging questions that beg some looking into. Instep attempts to answer five of those
It’s been a great year for fashion in Pakistan, with local brands launching internationally, global giants such as Swarovski making inroads into the country, a slew of fashion weeks taking place and a boom in high street brands. As we look back with a sense of pride over the last 12 months, we can’t help but come up with a list of nagging questions that beg some looking into. Instep attempts to answer five of those:
Who really is Lahore’s king of couture - HSY or FarazManan?
There’s no denying the fact that HSY is a powerhouse of talent and energy. Whether it is his flamboyant bridal creations, his infectious energy when he’s directing fashion shows or just his dazzling presence around Lahore’s social circuit, this is one guy who’s consistently in the forefront. Moreover, with the HSY Karachi Studio set to launch this month, the designer is expanding his retail reach within the country.
While he may not be as visible, Faraz Manan has used the last couple of years to slowly come into his own. From being a consistent but low-key presence on the fashion scene, he has emerged as a success story that’s turned heads. From snagging the gorgeous Kareena Kapoor to represent his lawn to being the first designer from Pakistan to launch his stand-alone boutique in Dubai, Faraz has given a global spin to his blingy creations and is capturing a growing international clientele in addition to his substantial following within the country.
Verdict: HSY has moved beyond couture to represent a complete lifestyle brand, leaving the throne empty for Faraz Manan to fast catch up.
Which make-up line did better - Nabila’s or MussaratMisbah’s?
This year, the doyennes of the Pakistani beauty industry, Nabila and Mussarat Misbah, both came out with make-up lines of their own. Designed specifically for the Pakistani woman, both ranges held great promise for beauty addicts like us who had been forced to spend a lifetime searching for products that would suit South Asian skin tones.
Nabila’s ‘No Make Up Palette’ is an all-in-one face perfecting palette containing concealer and blender. Developed in five shades, it’s a convenient compact that is easy to use and achieves great results, even on those who don’t wear a lot of make-up. The MM make-up line is much more extensive, with a range that includes lip colours, foundation and eye-liners, with new products consistently being added.
Verdict: The MM make-up range is targeted to the mass consumer and while it offers some great products, not all deliver when it comes to quality. The No Make Up Palette appeals to a more discerning clientele and is definitely the more high-end product.
Which is the bigger brand - Sapphire of Sana Safinaz?
Till not too long ago, one didn’t think Sana Safinaz could have a match. The couture queens hit the jackpot when they launched their retail stores across the country, diffusing their high fashion sensibility into a mass-oriented product that had a ready and eager market. And why not - the chance to get their hands on a Sana Safinaz outfit that retained the label’s luxurious aesthetic at high street prices left fashionistas weak in the knees.
Along came Sapphire and decided to give Sana Safinaz a run for their money. With Elan’s Khadija Shah as the head of creative, the retail brand offered a vibrant and quirky product that appealed due to its unique sensibility, great pricing and good quality.
Verdict: While Sapphire has emerged as a leading high street brand in the last one year, Sana Safinaz retains an edge given their vast experience, superior cuts and greater variety on offer.
Who do we prefer - the older lot of models or the newer one?
Ask a designer or a choreographer working in Pakistan and they will consistently bemoan the lack of good models in the country. The current crop is clearly divided into two distinct age groups - the older lot represented by the likes of Fauzia Aman, Nadia Hussain and Mehreen Syed who have an edge when it comes to experience; and the newer lot such as Anam Malik and Maha who have the gift of youth on their side.
However, what looks good on the ramp boils down to a question of aesthetics rather than age. Naomi Campbell still models occasionally but that is because she has the face and the body to carry it off. Mehreen Syed has been around for almost ten years but her swan-like glide on the ramp makes her the most sought-after show stopper during fashion weeks. On the other hand, you have a newbie like Humaira Asghar who has neither the carriage nor the body to qualify for the job.
Verdict: While some of the older models, especially those with more than three kids, need to put a stop to their active careers, age is but a number. We don’t mind if they’re not 16 as long as minimum standards of quality are adhered to.
PFDC or FPW - which is the better platform?
Whether it’s right or wrong, the fact is that Pakistani fashion is represented by two distinct fashion councils and the scenario seems unlikely to change in the near future. The Lahore-based Pakistan Fashion Design Council has the distinction of being the country’s first fashion council while the Karachi-based Fashion Pakistan is credited for holding the country’s first ever fashion week back in 2009 in Karachi.
The former is led by some of Lahore’s oldest and most experienced designers while the latter is currently under a young and dynamic leadership. Both must be lauded for streamlining the business of fashion weeks in the country and giving designers a regular platform to showcase their collections; leading to greater creativity, more discipline and a generally vibrant industry.
Verdict: When it comes to consistency, PFDC has been leading the pack. FP missed out a crucial few seasons but that seems set to change under the new team. PFDC also remains the bigger and more prestigious platform, with a better ratio of Karachi/Lahore designers.