LAHORE: Day 2 of the Pantene Bridal Couture Week followed a mehendi theme that could be observed in the décor of not only the red carpet and entrance area but also the ramp.

As the extravagance of the theme set the mood at the red carpet, the collections themselves were a great disappointment. Instead, the showstoppers of the night were indeed the highlight of an otherwise uneventful evening. Bodybeat Productions presented a prolonged mehendi performance featuring Hassan Rizvi, who wore a yellow kurta with a beautiful green dupatta by Ali Xeeshan, and model Rabya Chaudhry, who wore a cerulean blue Waseem Noon outfit. As a remix of “Teray Tu Mera Door Jan Nu” blared through the speakers, the performers stormed on stage and initially earned lots of cheers and hoots from the audience due to the high-energy moves. Unfortunately, the crowd’s interest dwindled as the sequence became too long. Rabya Chaudhry could not match actor Sana’s expressions and enthusiasm from the previous night. Luckily enough, the selection of songs was fun enough to keep the mood light throughout the night.

Cara

The Jodhabai collection opened the second act of the evening. Layered shirts and Cinderella-like off the shoulder sleeves in black really did not give a promising start to the collection. However, in keeping with the mehndi theme, the designer showcased vibrant colours such as shocking pink, red, green and ivory. The bridals again, saw blacks and chattapatti but nothing really stood out in the collection. Cybil wore a crushed chiffon lehenga in beige which was brought alive with a second candy pink heavily worked dupatta. The gorgeous Mahnoor Baloch was the show stopper for Cara, and strutted down the ramp in a white and red lehenga.

Ammar Shahid

A recent Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design (PIFD) graduate put out a disturbingly unharmonious collection. The marriage between red and black throughout the collection did not quite mesh well. While the silhouette of the collection remained long and floor skimming, we did not see any innovation or design concept. The designer’s attempt at heavy bridals translated into outfits full of overwhelming embellishments that looked too much of a mess to look pretty. The elements that stood out in the collection were the stylised turban with an extended stole over the red sherwani and the navy blue lehenga choli worn by Mehreen Syed. Even though the outfit lacked structure and had uneven volume, the bronze and blue combination and the embellishment showed that when given an opportunity, Ammar Shahid could possibly create one attractive piece and not a collection.

Saira Rizwan

This was a collection inspired by Persia, and really uplifted dull spirits on Day 2. While the only thing Persian about the collection was a black velvet overcoat modeled by Fayeza, the block print textured pants definitely stood out. The simplicity of the pants, lehengas and ghararas was a welcome change from the over embellished canvases. Ayaan modeled a silver worked shirt with black velvet edging paired with a deep purple dupatta. The shredded luppa edgings on the dupattas gave an old school feel to them. Neha modeled an interesting paanch lara haar-inspired outfit in green with textured capri pants. This was definitely the most subtle collection in terms of embellishments on Day 2, a breath of fresh air after some dreadfully over done heavy bridals. The designer focused on pants instead of just shirts, and even brought the traditional gharara back on the ramp.

Ali Xeeshan

Super sultry Mathira opened Ali Xeeshan’s show with a scintillating dance performance. After we saw the voluptuous TV show host shake a leg at the Lux Style Awards earlier this year, she wowed the audience with her moves to “Man Mohini” from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Her neon pink choli and sunflower yellow skirt gave a very Basanti feel to her getup. While Ali Xeeshan showed the same collection as he did at PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week and a few pieces from the year before, he seemed to be selling his production house more than his clothes. “I want to show you how you should have your wedding and how you can style your wedding to look regal and fun,” he said. The presentation was definitely interesting; the flare and drama went up more than just a few notches as the models perched themselves on a dewan that had been placed in the middle of the ramp. It seemed that all the pairs that slowly made their way to the dewan were posing for a family portrait at a typical wedding event. Fauzia came on stage wearing granny spectacles to represent the presence of elder relatives at weddings; Nadia Ali carried an adorable infant who was alert throughout the show. With his fantastic play on colours and elaborate styling, Ali Xeeshan brought the wedding alive with his showmanship.

Rani Emaan

While Sanam Marvi performed in a floor skimming heavy green and beige outfit, Rani Emaan closed the first act by presenting the Nauratan collection. The designers showcased a relatively better collection than what was seen earlier on in the night. Nadia Hussain’s green and plum outfit had an unusual vibe and was a welcome change after all the red and the black that was seen earlier on in the evening. The ramp was star studded as Gia Ali and Hira Tareen were followed by Qasim Yar Tiwana and Asim Yar Tiwana, who walked out wearing black sherwanis with gorgeous dupattas over jeans with their arms around Hum TV’smorning show host Sana.

Hijab

This was yet another disappointing series of outfits on the runway. With peek-a-boo shirts and capri pants and a wide spectrum of colours such as black, white, pink and red being used, the kaam, cuts and concept was unimpressive. It is interesting to see how the colour black is so popular with designers for bridal wear. Hijab presented black angarkhas and flared shirts in cutwork lace and chiffon, and even opted for a black edging at the hemline of a red shirt. The only thing that stood out from the collection was a cut out red sari blouse modeled by Fayeza Ansari.

Kosain Kazmi

This new designer presented a chattapatti collection with jamdani shawls. Interestingly, he also opted to use black with his chattapatti, the other colours being orange and maroon. In keeping with the mehendi theme, the Kazmi’s outfits had some prominent yellow, rust and mehendi green pieces. Other than that, his collection had a lot going on. Red outfits adorned with silver embellishments and far too many layers somehow did not harmonise well. Kazmi’s look for men was more casual, with sherwanis worn over jeans. While some of the embellishments on the men’s outfits were over the top, there were some fairly simpler and wearable sherwanis as well.

 

LAHORE: As the rain wiped away the red carpet and most of the external décor on Day 3 of the Pantene Bridal Couture Week (BCW), the spirits of the organisers of PBCW did not falter.

Slowly and steadily, the crowd trickled in to watch the show which finally started after a two hour delay. While Bodybeat Productions’ performances on the first two days were energetic and entertaining, the last performance by film actors Sana and Bubrik (Veena Malik’s former love interest) was less impressive. While they danced to “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom” and “Holay Holay”, the audience preferred not to cheer them on.

That being said, the three day event put up by the organisers was well-coordinated overall. BCW learnt a few things from PFDC L’oreal Paris Bridal Week earlier this month — it improved its front row management; the newsletter placed on each seat with a recap from the night before was something BCW noted from PFDC and it was a welcome addition for those who had missed shows the evening before. What PFDC could learn from BCW is time management. Even with over an hour’s delay everyday for the first act, BCW managed to put through seven shows a day, along with two performances all before midnight. What BCW needs however, is a snack bar! Even though the event was being held at the Pearl Continental, there was no snack bar available for guests to munch on after leaving the red carpet.

Mehdi

Mehdi displayed the BCW finale. The collection titled ‘Jewels of Mehdi’ focused on jewel tones and a bygone era. Overall, the collection was well put together. Many pieces were real hits such as the red moqaish sari worn by Fia, Rabya Chaudhry’s sari with a full sleeved orange blouse and Nadia Ali’s slimming pretty pink silhouette and encrusted head piece. The pink accents on a bridal dress modeled by Mehreen Syed were beautiful and added a new flare to the outfit. The most fabulous aspect by far was the attention paid to the fabrics. Mehdi focused a lot on not just the texture but also the quality. The velvet used was of such beautiful quality that even in its simplicity it exuded luxury and that sets a design house a notch above the others.

Sadaf Arshad

Sadaf Arshad is a Gujranwala-based designer who has opened her doors to Lahori clients. Surprisingly, her collection was the most structurally sound collection shown at the finale of BCW. The layered bridal in gold and red, worn by Mehreen Syed, added a new dimension to the designer’s work. The poncho style shirts were cut and stitched very well and the embellishments were neatly and intricately placed. However, an outfit modeled by Neha fell flat because the shades of grey and yellow were not going well together and made an otherwise decent outfit look drab. Iman Ali walked out as the showstopper in a black heavy bridal with silver and gold embellishments.

Grand Couturiers

13 of Pakistan’s most sought after designers opened the second act by displaying one outfit each. Noore walked the ramp wearing a chili red Deepak Perwani bridal; Mehreen Syed endorsed a lovely orange and red bridal with a contrasting maroon dupatta by HSY; Fauzia sported a very simple and elegant green Maheen Khan; Ayaan modelled a sexy black and  hot pink Mina Hasan and Fayeza Ansari donned Nickie n Nina’s latest collection. Nadia wore a beautiful Nomi Ansari dress and Rabia Butt wore a delicate looking lace appliqued Rizwan Beyg ensemble. Neha wore Sana Safinaz’s hottest new piece, while Nadia Ali and Nomi Qamar walked about in Umar Sayeed.

Ahmed Bilal

The evening opened with Ahmed Bilal’s eclectic collection. It was hard to concentrate on the designs because of the unusual (read outrageous) sari-like togas being modeled by the male models. As model Mohammad walked out on the ramp, it seemed that there had been an accidental wardrobe exchange back stage. He was draped in what could have been a lovely sari in deep purple with shocking pink edging. The menswear continued in its insaneness, as model after model walked out in voluminous sleeves and gaudy belts. All hope died when Abdullah walked out wearing an outfit that was part gladiator and part darbari. That being said, the women’s collection was far more palatable in comparison.  Fauzia modeled a lovely rust and beige flared shirt with beautiful borders at the end in black velvet, maroon and green. Fia modeled a short gold koti over a black and gold shirt that would have been better off without the animal print panels. TV actor Fizza Ali was the show stopper, and walked down the ramp in a red shirt with large lace panels and animal print (sigh) borders.

Sonar Jewellers

The famous jewellery brand had some interesting pieces on display, such as a beautiful goldmatha patti. However, even for imitation jewellery, some of the pieces looked very artificial. More than anything else, the styling of the jewellery had some of the models’ resemble sacrificial cows, and ended up looking very out of place in a bridal fashion show. What worked against the jewellery designers was the choice of dresses worn. Some of the outfits overpowered the jewellery and got merged in with the silhouette. For instance, Fauzia wore Sania Maskatiya and even though the outfit was stunning on its own, the jewellery got lost in it because there was too much going on.

Shazia Bridal Gallery

The first act closed with Shazia Bridal Gallery’s show inspired by all things that shine. Rabya Chaudhry wore an interesting outfit with a layered front open shirt in off white and beige, with an additional deep maroon velvet panel. Fayeza Ansari wore a pretty sleeveless worked coat with a higher hemline at the front. Both outfits looked elegant and were well-stitched. The designer worked with some icy tones such as ice blue and the colour palette translated well on the ramp. While there were a few sherwanis that remained on the simple side, some of the menswear was far too complicated to ever be worn. Embellishments and loud motifs are more at home at a Bollywood wedding than at our shaadis.

Commercial designers need to make an educated decision about understanding their clients’ needs.

Tabassum Mughal

Tabassum Mughal’s four seasons collection theme honoured all the seasons with its wide colour palette. Ayaan represented winter with a white lace outfit and a head piece shaped like a tree draped with crystals to depict a snowy winter. Fayeza Ansari’s draped lace had an Elan feel to it, something we saw two years ago. Rabya Chaudhry balanced what seemed like a bouquet of flowers on her head to depict the arrival of spring, wearing an outfit in navy and black with beautiful embroidery. These outfits had flowers and birds in their embroidery, but without much intricacy and detail. Neha represented summer with a fairy light lit branch of a tree in her hair. The warmer colour tones came out in combinations of brown with orange.  While some clothes were pretty, some very obvious Karma and Bunto Kazmi ‘inspirations’.

 

The brainchild of Style360, Pantene Bridal Couture Week (BCW) opened its doors to Lahore late on Saturday evening. This three-day event sees throngs of people from all walks of life coming to enjoy the show.

Even though BCW is the pioneering platform for bridal fashion showcases in the country, the likes of this show are far different from those of any council show. For one, it is undeniable that budget constraints are no issue when it comes to Hum TV and hence the scale of the show is much grander than others. But even with all the finances, the collections put forth can be pretty mediocre. That being said, more than avant-garde fashion and trendsetting, most designers at BCW reiterate their signature styles that have attracted a loyal client base and give a feel of their colour palette and choice of kaam of the season.  The ambience of BCW itself reflects the mood of the shaadi season; the elaborate floral arrangements on the red carpet with hanging gazebo tops give a very luxuriant and festive feel to the entire show. The ramp decorated with Mughal arches, jharokas, picture windows, chandeliers, and fresh flower arrangements exuded grandeur may seem over the top but for a show that is meant primarily for television, the elements translate well on screen. Lollywood actor Sana’s mayundance performance, choreographed by Bodybeat Productions, had the audience cheering. While the dance was a regular mehendi sequence, Sana’s enthusiasm and filmi expressions during a Bollywood song mash-up that opening with “Teri Ore” earned a few wolf whistles.

Kuki Concepts

Zahid Khan showed his collection based on Gulabjan, a courtesan from the 1930s. This collection was a pleasant surprise due to its overall cohesiveness. The embellishments may not have impressed most but the use of textured jamdani and gota was remarkable. Staying true to a regal colour palette and style, most of the collection was done in hues of purple. The capri length lehenga transported one to Indian Gujrat in the ‘30s. The main bridals were all textured fabrics with hues of blue and purple. While the menswear was impractical, with pagan skirts and colours that were too loud, the darbari pajama for men was well-stitched and in keeping with the time period. However, the gota-filled shalwar for men did not work! Kuki Concepts used many colours such as maroon, brown and peacock green together in one outfit and somehow made it all work beautifully. It was definitely the introduction of the textured fabric that held the collection together.

Asifa and Nabeel

The cousin duo showcased largely the same collection as they had shown recently at PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week in Lahore a week earlier, with a few tweaks and new additions. The addition of velvet trimmings and see-through backs for menswear was definitely different but not appealing. Amongst heavy bridals in blue, orange and gold, what stood out most was a champagne coloured outfit with black beadwork.

Maria B

Before the first break, Maria B presented her Anarkali-inspired ‘Ara collection’, which was somewhat disappointing considering she has established a name for herself and has been around for years. While her collection doesn’t get our vote for structural design, some elements did catch the eye; net lehengas, and bazoband designs, embellished sleeves and textured pants. Unfortunately, the models were given strange head pieces that took away from the look of the outfit. Nadia Hussain modeled an exceptionally well-stitched white angarkha with broad green borders with paisley motifs. Ayyan carried off a heavy bridal that diffused from deep pink at the top of the shirt into autumn colours at the hemline and finally a lehenga in shades of blue. Interestingly, the different coloured sleeves of the outfit added to the colour play. The menswear designs in mostly white and gold were understated and elegant but lacked craftsmanship and didn’t take the collection where it could have gone.

Charu Parashar

The only Indian designer on the ramp this year opened the second act of the first night at Pantene BCW. This Delhi-based designer showed an embroidery-based bridal collection. While the Indian design aesthetic may not appeal to our crowd, their designers have mastered the art of fabulous cuts. Even in this basic collection, the cut of the mermaid lehenga and the pleats of the patiyala shalwar showed good craftsmanship. Parashar used flamboyant colours such as shocking pink and teal. What stood out in this collection was the embellished over coat on the sari, a see through chiffon patiyala shalwar and shoulder and sleeve embellishments. Charu introduced a velvet sherwani style embellished shirt paired with a chooridar. The main bridal, however, was not very appealing but the lace trimmings on the bridals and dupattas added an interesting dimension. Hadiqa Kiyani walked out in an emerald green outfit to the beat of her own song “Kamliyan” as a showstopper. Hadiqa’s mass appeal was truly evidenced as the crowd applauded in their seats at the singer who looked radiant in an emerald green bridal.

Erum Khan

This young designer, who launched her label Medley in 2010, presented her debut bridal collection at BCW. While her concept of the cut-out pearl back sari blouse was refreshing, the lack of good craftsmanship slammed the design into the ground. Her use of colour blocking was unimpressive due to the unimaginative combinations, and the careless finishing at the seams did not help either. However, it was interesting to see how the designer had played the concept of volume by used a floor-skimming cape like shirt over a lehenga. Standouts included a beige outfit modeled by Fia, that had velvet edging on the lehenga and a broad navy blue jamavar border which was a refreshing break from the light hue; a white chiffon A-line shirt was also amongst her less flashy pieces. Amongst the heavier bridals, a diamante filled choli paired with a beige lehenga and deep red dupatta stood out. For men, Erum Khan chose Lucknow pajamas and sherwanis with higher hemlines and also a velvet sherwani.

Hajra Hayat

It is a fact that each design house has a specific clientele and inevitably, there is a place for each designer in the industry. Hajra Hayat is another one whose clients are loyal to her work. While the designer did not push her innovative boundaries and chose instead to showcase a collection that continued the deisgns of days gone by, some elements did jump out. A black velvet bodice modeled by Fayeza Ansari caught the audience’s attention for being different from the typical ‘flare wali kameez’. Ayaan lit up the runway in a fuchsia pink sari paired with a silver blouse full of glittery sequins and crimson embroidery. Sadia Mirza, on the other hand was a runway downer; because of her unshapely figure, many wondered why she was allowed to walk. Hajra Hayat’s innovation ended with her series of red jumpsuits, togas and tunics in the most electrifying satin fabric. Former model ZQ walked out as the showstopper in a mismatched colour outfit with a short pink velvet bodice and crushed two tones dupatta. The crowd roared with applause to see the former runway queen hit the ramp once again.

Amato

Dubai-based couturier Amato was the opening act of the evening. Amato’s Paris Spring collection comprised embellished evening gowns in mostly feminine pastel colours such as powder pink and mint green. Most gowns had a worked bodice in chiffon or tulle, with the dress ending in a trumpet-shape or A-line skirt. The two sequined black dresses included in the collection unleashed the vampy seductress element on the ramp. Nadia Hussain walked out in a flowy gown that had a Valentino feel to it, but a broad black sash cinching at the waist took away from the look. In essence, the collection had an Arabian sensibility, with rosettes and diamantes galore. His client lists boasts names like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, who are known more for their peculiar sense of style than their sophistication.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2012.