The fashion was going to be great, it was predicted prior to the third day of this year’s Hum Showcase.
The designer lineup, after all, boasted well-known names: two menswear designers, veteran labels from Karachi and Lahore and one of the country’s most renowned couturiers. But the prediction didn’t completely ring true.
The third and last day of Hum Showcase was a very strong day for fashion but it was also a day when menswear died a slow, garish death.
It was a day that was uplifted quite frequently by celebrities on the runway rather than the fashion itself. The celebrity entourage was huge: Faryal Mehmood, Asim Azhar, Feroze Khan, Sarah Khan and the entire lead cast and filmmakers of upcoming movie Chhalawa. Celebrities always guarantee plenty of eyeballs and you may have been seeing images from the shows trending on social media – because of the stars, not because of the fashion in most cases.
Fashion-wise, it was the couturier who had the first show of the day that ended up dominating.
Whenever Rizwan Beyg has a fashion showcase, I inevitably hear someone murmur afterwards: ‘This is his best collection yet.” And then, a year or so later, the next collection is also declared to be his best. Rizwan has the heart of a couturier, an eye for construction and when it comes to design, the temperament of a meticulous drill-master. The amalgamation of these traits ultimately results in creations that are amongst his very best.
‘Pearlessence’ was the designer’s romance with pearls on an ivory palette and one couldn’t help but fall in love with it. Pearls, sequins and hand embroideries twinkled, painstakingly handcrafted by the craftswomen from Pakistan’s rural regions that he works with constantly.
The silhouettes were familiar and yet not-so-familiar: hybrids were created of the shalwar, there were breezy culottes with slits, jackets, blazers, masterfully constructed sleeves and rigorously sculpted shirts. The embroidery had an elegance to it, sometimes running down the entire length of a garment and at other times, holding its own on a single pocket or a collar; always coherent, never over-the-top.
The result was exquisite. These were timeless pieces that a woman would want to treasure for life and yet, at the same time, so fashion forward in their implementation. Rizwan Beyg doesn’t believe in overt advertising. You may not see him putting out paid social media content incessantly or blowing his own trumpet in multiple interviews. Instead, he lets his work sing out his praises.
And how it sang! His best collection yet. Until the next one.
Block prints have long been a consistent part of Wardha Saleem’s maison and a separate label by her, dedicated solely to the technique, makes so much sense.
Her ‘Jhirki’ made its first appearance in a panorama of color ways that ran the gamut from subtle greys and blues to bright pinks and yellows, and there were so many patterns flitting about its landscape: paisleys, geometric shapes, poppies, sparrows, herons and horses, among them! The medley of Eastern silhouettes was quite festive, dabbling with variations of the shalwar, slinky saris, jackets and structured tunics.
Quite cohesive and centered around a subcontinental craft which is timeless and inherent to the subcontinent, ‘Jhirki’ has all the makings of a retail success!
Munib Nawaz’s ‘Dash’ had its redeeming moments. For instance, the navy blue jacket worn by model Walid Siddiqui and some of the more austere suits. There was a lot more that I felt couldn’t possibly cater to the wardrobe of the urbane man who forms Munib’s target clientele. The plaid shirts and track suits and the mish-mash of layers didn’t make much sense.
Natasha Kamal is quite popular in her home-base Lahore and tends to have a strong knack for pretty, wearable design. With Lilium, she took inspiration from the extraordinarily twirling lilies created by painted Georgia O’Keefe and translated them into some beautiful prints and three-dimensional embellishments.
There were sunsets on clouds laced with magenta, unfolding on some of the summer dresses. Unfortunately, there were also some badly fitted dresses and layered shirts that didn’t quite work.
The prints in Lilium had a lot of potential but having witnessed Natasha’s more artistic collections, this one didn’t raise the bar.
Khaadi Khaas pirouetted out, flouncing its colors with the spirit of the flamenco dancer. There was clever styling at play, which uplifted the embroidered shirts that are Khaadi’s leitmotif, injecting a boho gypsy vibe to them. Capes, waistcoats, long and short tunics and a variation of lowers – you could take most of this collection straight from the catwalk right on to retail racks.
It was a whirl of color, splayed on to the catwalk in heady concoctions. Another strength was the wearability of every single look, testifying to Khaadi’s prowess in the retail playground.
From catwalk to the red carpet to Khaadi Khaas racks where it can easily cater to the steady market for festive-wear, this collection can be a hit absolutely anywhere. I hope that it does.
Jazib Qamar took the name of his collection far too literally and unleashed ‘Kashmakash’ on to the catwalk, rather unimpressively may I add. The collection made a promising start with Abeer Rizvi walking out wearing a suit with bugs crawling down it – but the transition was then made to menswear and it all plummeted downhill.
Who wears a tunic stitched like an upside down shirt? Perhaps that was Jazib being zany. But then there was the parade of garish checked patterns, purples, shocking pinks, a shiny golden and poor Aimal Khan trussed up in frills and the designer just could no longer be excused in the name of zaniness.
Not a good collection and quite indicative of the general sad state of menswear on our catwalks.
And for the finale, Sana Safinaz upped the glamour quotient with a selection of contemporary outfits all set to swing into the party season. There were deep jewel tones as well as prints that followed international style predictions, mixing neons with animal prints. One couldn’t help but be reminded of having seen slivers of the same ethos in Sana Safinaz’s high-street collections, peeping through on a silken kaftan or fluttering on a dupatta.
On the runway, it was transformed into a series of very well-cut garments. There were off-shoulders, pants, tunics nipped at the waist, fantastical three-dimensional twists to fabric and the most elaborate sleeves!
This was bespoke couture, once seen so frequently in Sana Safinaz’s shows, before the brand began planning out extensive bridal solo outings. I am guessing that it’s going to be visible on the red carpet, come awards season. And perhaps a semblance of it will be translated to the high street?
An apt ending to the last day of Hum Showcase, starting off with the finest couture and wrapping up with glitz and color.