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Fashion’s National Guard

Last week the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week descended upon Lahore amidst high expectations.

Fashion’s National Guard
HSY's finale was a patriotic homage to the 'shers' of the future. It might seem clichéd and contrived, but this wasn't just a collection that relied on the national fervour for applause; HSY used his Sher collection to spread a message and not vice versa. Patriotism with a purpose meant the designer enlisted the help of the women of Shergarh Village for his collection through Anjuman-e-Khuddam-e-Rasul Allah, an NGO, and will continue to do so with further collections. His message was to adopt a village and support education so that in time Pakistan can be free of foreign aid.

Last week the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week descended upon Lahore amidst high expectations. And while neither the council nor the city disappointed as the perfect host, designers left less of an impression. What made a mark were designers who took to Pakistani craft to create globally relevant clothing… 

Lahore proved to be a refreshing haven for fashion throughout the Pakistan Fashion Design Council Sunsilk Fashion Week. Held at Lahore’s Expo Centre, the glass, iron, and concrete structure housed four days of high street, textile, prêt and luxury prêt collections from the country’s best designers. The PFDC has successfully executed its seventh fashion week, whereas it has held three bridal week showcases in the past and has prided itself on its consistency in bringing fashion a stable platform.

Stability, the PFDC has insisted, translates to business growth in the industry. In a meet and greet with the press, Chairperson of the PFDC, Sehyr Saigol explained how the goal wasn’t to bring in buyers that Pakistan could not facilitate but to grow Pakistan’s solid roots within its own borders. That’s not to say the PFDC and the FPC (Fashion Pakistan Council) have not tried to extend their hands to create bridges between Pakistani designers and foreign buyers. But when the councils did realize the designers weren’t ready for an international scale of operations, the next best thing was to prepare the designers to explore and cater to the local market. Today the council is working on the long-term sustainability of the future of fashion in Pakistan, which is a much more practical agenda.Front-Khaadi

The buyer is ready for high-end fashion, especially with prêt and bridal shows being regularly televised. Exposure of fashion has multiplied from the time that fashion weeks began in Pakistan in 2008. What was once deemed scandalous and inappropriate is now mainstream. Fashion weeks are held with such regularity and fervour that invites are being duplicated for forged entry. The element of entertainment that was once an integral part of fashion week is now no longer required to convince the audience. Strong fashion no longer needs song, dance and celebrity to succeed at a fashion week.

What it does need, however, is an equally strong support system and that patronage comes from building bonds with local sponsors. Corporate collaborations at PSFW have resulted in some extraordinary initiatives like the Bank Alfalah Rising Talent Show, in which four young designers are invited to show and one will walk away with a cash prize to start a business. Fashion Week’s title sponsor, Sunsilk, cemented the accessibility of fashion to the masses with designer shampoo bottles. Designed by four huge names: Khaadi, HSY, Sana Safinaz and FnkAsia, this is keyhole fashion that takes style to the common man. With similar steps like these, the PFDC managed to bridge the gap to some extent.Front-Maria-B

Another step to progress, this year, was the styling. Nabila and her creative team was deployed the task of styling all 38 collections over the four day event. This led to some seriously stunning looks as well as dapper grooming of the male models by the team at N Gents, Nabila’s Men’s Salon. This strong team has led to its growth and expected monopoly on styling within the public, and most definitely for fashion events. After all, style and looks in hair and makeup are just as integral to fashion week are as the clothes. Moreover, for the very first time, two pools of models (a total of 60) were created to ensure that makeup changes would not waste too much time.

One feels that thanks to events like the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week, the fashion industry in Pakistan is now heading towards steady progress. Now that fashion is a viable and respected industry, it is no longer considered the ‘darzi’s kaam’ – it is the chance to be a Khaadi, an HSY or a Sana Safinaz. And that’s the chance to make it very big!

Photography: Faisal Farooqui and the team @ Dragonfly

The Rivalry

There has been much interest in the fact that despite there being two different fashion councils, FPC (Fashion Pakistan Council) members have been showing on PFDC’s platform over the years and vice versa. There have been open statements on merging the two councils, where offers of friendship have been extended to FPW’s new council members. Can designers finally put aside their differences, especially when the agenda for both councils is to promote fashion in Pakistan? Because at the end of the day it’s not about who did it first, it’s about how both councils can continue to do their best. And we do believe the same national anthem is celebrated in both cities!

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