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May the best brand win!

Following in Instep tradition, here is a break down of the Lux Style Awards fashion nominations for 2016 and our prediction of the winners!

May the best brand win!
Hasnain Lehri

It certainly has been an exciting and busy year in fashion. We’ve had some mad cap moments (literally), seen some incredible innovation and witnessed promising new talent hone itself to prove that they’re going to be bankable stars. What’s even more incredible is that this is the 16th edition of the Lux Style Awards and if nothing else, its longevity speaks of its success. The franchise has been working to improve each year, upping the glamour quotient, though it does certainly help to have a thriving film and entertainment industry to bedazzle audiences with now.

With another year in review and without further ado, we present to you our overview and more excitingly, our predictions for this year’s fashion nominees at the LSAs.

Model of the Year (Female)

Out of all the categories present in the fashion segment, the Best Model category has to be the most fiercely contested by far. The roster reads like a list of superstars, the absolute darlings of the lens. Amna Baber, Sadaf Kanwal and Rabia Butt have past nods from the jury but Anam Malik and Zara Abid are new additions and rightly deserved. Butt is also the only contender who has also won a best model award previously, in 2012. It’s heartening to see that the industry has a growing pool of models, not just beautiful girls who can look charmingly into the camera but rather versatile women who can mold themselves according to character, jumping from ingénue to dominatrix in the blink of an eye.

Our pick: As far as winning is concerned, it’s nearly impossible for us to pick. Something tells us this is Amna Baber’s year and we couldn’t be happier but if nothing else, Zara Abid wins us over for her Generation campaigns.

Model of the Year (Male)

While men’s fashion hasn’t quite hit mainstream in the same manner that women’s wear has, the competition between the nominees in this category is no less intense than their female counterparts. There might not be as many in the pool to choose from, though to be honest the demand for male models in comparison to females is way less, but the ones who do make it to the upper echelons of the fashion circuit have certainly proved their merit without doubt. No male model present in this set would’ve made it without a killer set of abs and if nothing else, that’s dedication to the job!

Shehzad Noor and Hasnain Lehri both have past wins while Aimal Khan, Waleed Khalid and Jahen-e-Khalid have all been nominated previously.

Our pick: Despite his success last year, we predict Mr. Lehri will bag the prestigious silver trophy again this year.

Best Fashion Photographer

Behind the men and women in the aforementioned categories are photographers and hair/makeup artists who create their onscreen persona. Just like models need the right eye to bring out the best in them, photographers need a muse willing to bare their soul to the camera; there’s a special bond between the two and often enough you see it reflected in the image. Take Abdullah Haris and Rabia Butt for example. There’s a particular way that Haris captures Butt, bringing out an intensity in her gaze that’s hard to ignore. Similarly, Anam Malik and Alee Hassan tend to produce fabulous work together because they just complement each other’s style. Not to say that these two don’t photograph other models but photography is an intimate connection and it shows. NFK and Guddu Shani are two stalwarts of the industry with previous wins while Shahbaz Shazi has gained respect over time and has been nominated before.

Our pick: Abdullah Harris might be the favourite but call it our affinity for the underdog; we’re rooting for Alee Hassan this year.

Best Hair and Make-up Artist

With Nabila out of the running, this category has opened up for a fresh pool of makeup artists that have been doing great work in the industry. Fresh blood!

While we agree with certain nominees, the inclusion of some and exclusion of others completely baffles us. Saima Rashid Bagfrede, Omayr Waqar and Natasha Khalid make sense (the former two much more so than the latter, simply because they do more editorial work – Khalid is mostly too busy with brides to dabble too much in fashion) but Shammal Qureshi and Shazia Rashid leave us a little stumped. Not to say that both are not fabulous stylists in their own right but to pick them over Shoaib Khan and Hannan Siddique is downright baffling. Khan and Siddique both have a vast body of work ranging from haute editorials to mass appealing commercial work and Siddique particularly has worked for clients like Zara and Vogue. Also, Khan and Siddique both do hair and makeup themselves and are quite proficient at both.

Our pick: Nomination woes aside, we wish all those who’ve made it to the list the very best but Bagfrede should already book her flight to Karachi so she can pick up her winner’s trophy.

Achievement in Fashion Design – Pret

To say that fast fashion has revolutionized the fashion industry would be an understatement.

High street brands like Khaadi, Sapphire, Generation, Sana Safinaz and Coco by Zara Shahjehan today have just as big a part to play in fashion as couture brands do, bringing the unaffordable within mass reach. However, fast fashion has also come with its fair share of cons. Because companies have to produce bulk clothing in short cycles you tend to compromise on innovation, design and quality. But when someone can pick up a pret kurta with a designer label for a fraction of the couture cost not a lot of people seem to mind the fact that some bored design graduate might have plagiarized the print on their shirt from the third page of Google search.

Zara Abid

Zara Abid

Our pick: It does take a lot to be a brand that sustains consumer attention, striking the fine balance between giving them what they want and injecting their own aesthetic into it. The nominees are all veterans and each has carved out its own niche in the market but our vote goes to Generation for their commitment to innovation and design.

Achievement in Fashion Design – Luxury Pret

Luxury pret is an interesting category in Pakistan. It’s a mix of Eastern and Western formal wear and like couture, is mostly made to order and priced along international standards. It does however, provide the platform for Western wear to shine, even though the demand for it is miniscule and it’s most effective role is providing designers the opportunity to exhibit their dexterity and dress stars and red carpet influencers for good press.

Sania Maskatiya, Shehla Chatoor, Shamaeel Ansari and Sana Safinaz have all been nominated before and represent Karachi’s most haute circle but new comer Mahgul has managed to impress her audience and leave a significant impression; enough to bring her into the coveted circle. While Ansari is master of her craft, we can’t help but feel that the House of Kamiar Rokni’s Fashion DNA collection would have been an important name in terms of nominations.

Our pick: Shehla Chatoor!

Achievement in Fashion Design – Bridal

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Sana Safinaz Lawn Collection 2017

Ah, bridals. The mainstay of Pakistani fashion, bridals are what pay the bills. And considering they now cost upward of Rs. 20 lacs in some cases, it’s no wonder that successful bridal designers often feel no need to divert resources otherwise. But because bridal is so high in demand it’s also probably the hardest category to innovate in. Designing a bridal collection in Pakistan that not only wows the audience but leaves them feeling like they’ve never seen anything like it before is an exceptionally tough task. Those who’ve mastered it toe the fine line between being high fashion yet still wearable.

Mahgul again proves her mettle by bagging her second nomination this year along with industry bigwigs like Faraz Manan, Elan, Ali Xeeshan and House of Kamiar Rokni.

Our pick: While Shah and Xeeshan both produced stellar collections that showcased innovation and impeccable detailing, the House of Kamiar Rokni is unparalleled in their craft and we can’t imagine a more deserving winner than them.

Achievement in Fashion Design – Lawn

Elan’s Palais Indochine

Elan’s Palais Indochine

Considering that we’re bombarded with lawn for more than half the year you’d think we’d have some pretty phenomenal options to choose from. However, each year the lawn race is dodged by plagiarism scandals, weak defenses and insincere apologies and promises to reform but unfortunately we’re still stuck in a rut. 2016 saw some beautiful collections though we wish we could say that all of the nominees in this category could proudly claim each stroke of the print and presentation as their own. The thing with lawn is though, just like pret, it has to have commercial appeal. One could even argue that lawn more so than pret has to be completely designed to cater to the masses but again, it’s a lot tougher than it sounds. With so many options available the audience has become more discerning and the competition weeds out the underserving with cold precision.

The lawn roster still reads like one from yore. Shehla Chatoor, Faraz Manan, Khadijah Shah, Zara Shahjahan and Sana Safinaz once again vie for the title.

Our pick: Shehla Chatoor’s lawn was stand out but if for nothing else, Elan should win for sheer popularity.

Best Menswear Designer

Menswear in Pakistan is a tricky business. With our strictly defined ideas of masculinity, tiny retail presence and demand and general dearth of professionals in the field, designing a collection that doesn’t just look like it’s your friendly neighborhood tailor trying to be fancy is a lot harder than you think. Comparing the amount of revenue injected into and generated by women’s wear, men’s wear comes across as the ugly step sister in Pakistan.

Which is why we need the designers who can do this well more than ever. Men need to look dapper too! HSY, Ahmed Bahm, Nauman Arfeen, Ismail Farid and Amir Adnan are the unsurprising nominees. Omar Farooq of Republic, another LSA usual hasn’t made the cut this year.

Our pick: While Bahm’s cut and finish is impeccable, we think the award is going to HSY this year!

Best Emerging Talent

A mix bag of everything good that’s come out of the industry in the last year, the emerging talent category is a nod to those who the fashion jury deems worthy of being acknowledged (and believe us, it’s a lot harder and unpredictable than you think). Models, photographers, makeup artists and designer are all eligible for nomination if they’ve been consistently good for three years at least, though their nomination is based on their body of work from the previous year only.

This year women dominate the list with Aashna Khan for photography, Hira Shah, Iman Madani and Giti Ara for modeling being nominated. Mohsin Saeed rounds up the list with his label The Pink Tree Company.

Our pick: A pret wear brand with a charming ethnic identity, The Pink Tree is a great addition to Karachi’s fashion scene but when you have a tall, skinny, fair, green eyed model on the list, let’s be honest, no one else in Pakistan stands a chance.

– Photography by Faisal Farooqui @ Dragonfly

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