Stars and their style is the LSAs core; as many winners and presenters pointed out, the soap has been associated with film stars for decades. Filled to the brim with celebrities, this year was just as bedazzling. From plunging necklines to voluminous gowns, from Mahira’s princess moment to Syra’s chic fashion sense, the red carpet was a show unto itself. The Lux Lounge, ironically, was the weakest link as it was devoid of any luxury.
Fawad Khan, dapper in a rich, scarlet blazer by Republic, and his wife Sadaf in her staple, Muse Luxe creation, came as a relief amongst the swarms of lackluster attendees. Also on our best dressed list were: Ali Zafar in his black-tie affair; the three Jaswal brothers, each of them in a personality-centric three-piece suit bringing sexy back, literally; designer Khadija Shah, poised to perfection in a black and fuschia creation and Ayesha Omar, dressed to impress in an emerald green Tena Durrani column dress.
While the star power was out in full force, most of the fashion – it has to be said – was predictable and safe. In fact, we even spotted some reruns from fashion weeks of spring and summer past. There were a handful of outliers who dared to take a risk but not all of them necessarily worked: Ali Xeeshan in his quilted, draped jacket; Waleed Zaman in a floral turban and Meera Jee in a signature Deepak Perwani dress, being as OTT on and off-stage.
The real action was inside. And where fashion was concerned, it emerged in the segment honouring fashion nominees.
The LSAs aren’t just the biggest event on the social calendar but are also the only platform that recognizes fashion’s contribution to the entertainment world and beyond. This year’s fashion nominations barely had any snubs except for Fauzia Aman and Abbas Jaffri in their respective ‘Model of the Year’ categories, but the winners came with a handful of surprises leaving room for scathing criticism and conspiracy theories.
The evening’s biggest surprise was the triple win by Sana Safinaz; they sweeped the awards ceremony with three big wins – Achievement in Fashion Design for Luxury Pret, Pret and Lawn. While it made all the sense to award them for Pret, given the way their retail stores expanded significantly across the country last year, and how their pret collection changed the high street game by offering bespoke designer value at competitive prices, the same cannot be said for the other two categories.
The two Sana Safinaz luxury pret collections, from prodigies Ather Hafeez and Mohsin Ali, that graced the runway mid-October last year, were unconventional and edgy but not a popular choice among fashion critics. In comparison, Shehla Chatoor’s Misaki collection was an instant hit both on and off the runway. The Japanese fashion artistry was seen on celebrities from all walks of life, garnering far more visibility and attention. The collection was also adapted to an equally haute Eastern version and was a society favourite.
As for lawn, there is no denying that Sana Safinaz are ‘uncrowned’ queens of the lawn market and are indeed pioneers of value-added, designer lawn but last year, it was Khadija Shah of Elan that brought out the best collection in terms of prints, quality and design. Oriental birds and butterflies merged with cherry blossoms on hues of dusky pinks and calming blues, the collection was perfect for the breezy summers. It offered a lot more in terms of innovation and the airy quality of the fabric was a savior amidst the scorching heat unlike Sana Safinaz lawn which has become quite bulky over time.
Nomi Ansari picked up the award for Best Bridal Designer and deservingly so. His digital printed floral lehngas with splashes of vibrant colours were a welcome elixir on the otherwise monotonous runway. The fun collection quickly found clients in celebrities including Sanam Saeed who wore one of the outfits to her own mehndi. Ismail Farid grabbed the trophy for Achievement in Fashion Design (Menswear) showing that he does have a market well beyond Karachi putting all criticisms to rest. The numbers of voters in Lahore and Karachi is always the same and the results of both ballots determine the one winner; it was actually bizarre that the low profile Ismail Farid emerged winner amongst some other very popular choices.
There was less conflict of opinion amongst other categories. Nabila’s ninth win in a row for Best Hair and Make-up artist was as predictable as it gets (she even asked the audience if we had gotten bored of her) but then again, there really isn’t a match for her. The woman has dominated every stylish mood board across the country – from fashion weeks to award nights, she’s brought us beauty looks par excellence and it is actually quite unfortunate that there is still no one from the younger lot who can put up any worthy competition.
It was a relief to see Nadir Firoz Khan take the stage for Best Fashion Photographer. He, with his wife Maha Burney, has given us umpteen shoots that were both creative and memorable. It also wasn’t surprising to see the duo’s favourite model Sadaf Kanwal take a trophy for Best Emerging Talent. It was their shoot with Khaadi that had everybody talking about Sadaf’s striking features and of course, it is she who brought back the bushy high-brow in Pakistan’s modeling world.
Amna Ilyas stole the show not for her win as the ‘Model of the Year’ but her acceptance speech. It was brave of her to take the opportunity to shun those who criticized her for her dark skin colour – an unfortunate taboo that plagues our society till date. Though Shehzad Noor deserved every bit to win the award for Male Model of the Year, his acceptance speech just proved that some models are better off being ‘seen’ and not ‘heard’.
An interesting point to note was that all of the night’s awards went to Karachi and it reinstated Karachi’s position as the fashion capital of the country. Lahore may have the most exciting red carpet to offer but skill, craft and business acumen are still Karachi’s forte. However, what sort of rivalries and gossip the results will unravel, we are only waiting to watch.
Overall, the LSAs ended on a fashion high, lending everyone a cheery smile. Whether it was having the two rival doyennes Shehla Chatoor and Khadija Shah share the stage to announce best male model or calling upon Hamza Ali Abbasi to give away the award for the ‘moral’ female model of the year, the tongue-in-cheek humour did not allow a minute’s boredom. What’s important is that it persuaded even the ‘least-interested in fashion’ to sit through the fashion segment excitedly and perhaps also make an effort to make a fashion statement of their own for the coveted red carpet.