A costume show without the costumes – Style
Pakistani fashion has so much more to offer than what was showcased at the PoliNations Pakistan Costume Show in Karachi.
Even a slight whiff of fashion can be exciting in these dark and dreary times. The pandemic arrived and Pakistan’s fashion industry struggled to stay afloat and the luxury clothing market contracted. Fashion weeks quickly came to an end. Solo fashion shows surfaced only sporadically. Walkways gathered cobwebs. Even though the risks of coronavirus may have now diminished, the local fashion industry is only raising its head very, very slowly. The focus is on profit – fashion shows are rare; shoots, new collections and celebrities as brand ambassadors are more common, and off-the-shelf designs have been replaced by cute wearables that sell out quickly.
When an invitation for the PoliNations Pakistan Costume Show arrived, it was hoped to see the creativity that was missing in the fashion landscape. The event claimed to showcase “an exciting collaboration between Pakistani and British fashion designers as they take us through the journey of tea along the Silk Road”. With Yousuf Bashir Qureshi (YBQ) and Riffat Aliani from Pakistan, and Joey Frenette from the UK on board, the collaboration between the British Council, Yousuf Bashir Qureshi Studios and the creative team Trigger UK could perhaps shake things up a bit. things.
Except no. One wonders why the event could even be called a “costume show” given that it only had a handful of desi silhouettes to offer; the kurta-shalwar, the dupatta and a flowing angarkha.
The artists’ colony in the commune of YBQ is always a pleasant space to wander around and on the evening of the show, it was lit up in a spectacular way with installations installed in the main hall. Sketches of sheets and drawings were illuminated in glass cases along the walls. The designs were the main focal point, encased in wire stretched in geometric patterns, forming a sort of “cage”. Kurtas with minimal embroidery were spread apart, suspended in the air. There were two-piece cotton sets. A lovely angarkha has been worked with a block print, a tassel hanging down the side. The tea inspiration came from the slight design details – a silk dupatta was dyed light gold using tea leaves. The pompom was created with cardamom and cloves. Native soosi, khaddi cotton and silk were all organically dyed.
A “costume parade”, however, should be much more than just a presentation of clothing that is very common in a particular region. Stunning statement garments created by YBQ have recently been enjoyed – dhotis, kurtas and skirts created from local fabrics, often spotted on the red carpet when worn by a celebrity. Her involvement in the collaboration raised expectations: maybe there would be some funky twists in desi wear, an edgy silhouette or two, and some creative spurts given the costume hint. There were none.
The collection was also very limited, consisting of only a few models. The quantity may have been dictated to the designers by the organization. Nevertheless, we were reminded of times when designers offered 40 strange clothes for a collection. They would sift through it, filter out the less appealing ones, and present an edited final lineup on a podium or in a display. It’s sad that now a small handful of designs can be considered a “show”.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the sitar played by Rakae Jamil of Mughal-e-Funk fame, who had been commissioned to create two new compositions inspired by tea and tulips. In retrospect, perhaps that particular costume show wasn’t much to say, as it’s just part of the ongoing celebrations organized by the British Council to celebrate Pakistan’s 75th birthday. The suits that were showcased, according to the event’s press release, will now be flown to Birmingham where they will be displayed at a fashion show in September in recognition of the Pakistan-UK New Perspectives season intended to show off the wealth culture and contemporary creativity. of both countries.
But Pakistani fashion has so much to offer in terms of creativity and originality. Many of our designers are resourceful, fusing embroidery with texture, pattern and silhouette. In fact, YBQ, when given the opportunity, has a knack for creating drama with his creations and presentations. A show billed as “exciting” should have had more to offer.