The three-day bridal extravaganza has constantly struggled to defend it’s commercial aspirations; perhaps it’s time it embraced its mass appeal and stopped calling itself a fashion week
Bridal Couture Week, despite putting on a show consistently twice a year for the last five years, has always received flak for being more about entertainment than fashion. While it remains a viable commercial platform, given that the three-day event is a showcase for television and beamed to millions of viewers across the country, it’s lack of credibility as a ‘fashion week’ is constantly put under scrutiny by fashion snobs. This year’s event, held in Lahore from the 11th to the 13th of December, was BCW’s most lack-luster and proved once and for all that the platform needs to rethink its strategy, and fast. Here are the reasons why Telenor Bridal Couture Week failed to impress:
Lack of selection criteriaThe organizers continue to defend their decision to insert a dose of commercial masala into the proceedings to engage with a television audience but the real problem plaguing TBCW is not the addition of entertainment value, it’s the complete lack of credible fashion content. While this year’s line-up included some high profile names such as Nilofer Shahid, Fahad Hussayn, HSY and Maria B, a large chunk of the designers were either complete unknowns or those with little to offer in terms of quality output. Fashion weeks are known to nurture and cultivate new talent, but the upcoming designers that BCW chose to put in the spotlight, names such as Shazia Kiyani and Sara Rohale Asghar, were clearly not ready for the runaway. Bad finishing and ill-fitting garments were the hallmarks of their collections.
Moreover, some of the well-known designers failed to bring anything new to the table, choosing to show collections that had previously been seen (HSY with his PLBW collection and Zaheer Abbas with his FPW collection); contributing to the overall fashion fatigue suffered by the attendees. Unless BCW devises a selection criteria based not just on participating fees but also merit, it will never be considered in the same league as the council-led fashion weeks.
Another factor that seriously brought down the appeal of the event was the unaesthetic visuals of the event, aside from the clothes. From the red carpet to the runway, there was little to suggest that this was a stylish event. The overcrowded red carpet boasted more sponsorship logos than real stars. Other than the smattering of models participating in the shows (who managed to make brief appearances for the cameras), there was no head-turner to spot. Lahore’s sizeable community of well-heeled socialites, celebrities and designers, who manage to up the style quotient wherever they go, remained missing.
Bad styling choices ruled the ramp as well. While floral runways have been done internationally by the likes of Dior and Chanel to great artistic and whimsical effect, BCW’s version of it looked more like a valima set-up than anything else, with bunches of red roses placed in crystal vases in the center of the ramp. We understand that weddings and roses go hand in hand in Pakistan, but a slightly more imaginative take on that trend could have worked wonders for the décor.
Add to that the unsavoury accessories used to complement most of the collections and the cringe-factor multiplied. With Nabila at the helm of hair and make-up, BCW seemed finally headed in the right direction by pulling in an industry A-lister. But when a model walks down the ramp with what looks like an unsightly pot of flowers on her head (as in the case of Lajwanti), it puts a serious question mark on the styling team’s credentials as well.
Fashion week or commercial gala?
The primary motivation behind Telenor Bridal Couture Week has been clear from day one - and that is to generate revenue and ratings for the channel. As a commercial platform, it remains a great opportunity for designers to connect with a nationwide audience and benefit from increased visibility. That being said, it cannot and should not be called a fashion week, which is, by definition, is about the business of fashion. Without the presence of any serious buyers, or the appearance of any trend-defining collections on the ramp, it becomes a gala at best.
Perhaps the best approach would be to repackage BCW as a made-for-television extravaganza rather than a fashion week. Were it to be held in a controlled environment, with an unabashedly commercial approach featuring song, dance and star power, and shot for television, no one would balk at the lack of high fashion content. What’s beginning to get problematic for the invited media and guests is the expectation that the platform will bring forth content worthy of a fashion week and then being let down time and again.