April was as a whirlwind month for the Pakistan fashion scene. First, Karachi kicked off Fashion Week Pakistan on April 9, with bloggers and fashion journalists creating a tsunami of real-time coverage via Instagram and Twitter.
Followed by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council's Sunsilk Pakistan Fashion Week in Lahore, where 46 designers including veterans like Yahsir Waheed and debutante Maghul Rashid presented their summer collections between April 26 and 29.
This season marked the addition of 17 designers from Karachi to the Lahore line-up, allowing the Council to better represent the Pakistan fashion industry.
Here are the highlights.
1. Strongest debut
Mahgul Rashid made her debut for couture label Nasreen Shaikh, the eponymous label begun by her grandmother, with a capsule collection in Lahore. The designer used old photographs from the Civil and Military Gazette for inspiration, re-printing them onto denim, satin and organza.
2. Best take on tradition
Sania Maskatiya’s 'Aghaz Collection' presented modern interpretations of traditional Pakistani ethnic wear like the salwar kameez and the lacha, a garment similar to the Indian dhoti.
2. Next-gen saris
This season, the Pakistani sari received multiple transformations to endear it to a younger audience.
Designer Misha Lakhani’s sari dress featured a digitally printed drape, styled on a one-shoulder dress and cinched at the waist with a belt. Huma Adnan of FnkAsia used the ethnic staple as inspiration to construct western silhouettes, using pleating techniques to craft skirts and wide-legged pants.
Wardha Saleem bought into the quirky sari trend, using nature as print inspiration. She even paired computer chips and wires using hand embroidery techniques to create statement pieces.
A favourite look off the runway was Saleem's black and white silk sari, worn over a coral top.
3. Warrior women
Fahad Hussayn produced the edgiest collection this season, dressing the warrior women of a mythical world called ‘Praxus’. The collection was inspired by the people of Pakistan who, according to the designer, have “faced every adversity with bravery and courage during the last few years.”
His showstopper was an armour-inspired ensemble -- made of metal, custom-cast and moulded -- was a dress fit for the “Queen of the Praxians”.
4. Pakistan’s next top model
Model Amna Ilyas has earned herself a reputation for inhabiting her garment exactly the way the designer imagines it. So much so designers confess that they make her wear the weakest piece in the collection because she manages to make anything look good.
5. Beyg's bold boots
The stand-out runway accessory this season were Rizwan Beyg’s bright, bold boots. Open-toed and rising up to the calf, the boots were plastered with multi-coloured motifs, like this green pair with orange accents.
6. Far East vintage
East Asia was one of the major sources of inspiration this season on the Pakistani ramp, from vintage Japenese watercolour-inspired kimono dresses by Shamaeel Ansari to chinoiserie print renditions by Khadija Shah for Elan.
Elan's 'Ode to a Nightingale' was the brand’s first foray into western prêt. With a dusky colour palette, designer Khadija Shah used chinoiserie elements like the nightingale, flowers and the full moon on structured skirts and draped asymmetrical dresses.
7. Truck art trend
At Pakistan Fashion Week in Lahore, designer Yahsir Waheed's assymetrical dresses came decorated with the same prints as seen on Karachi’s colourful buses.
“A handful of truck art motifs appealed to me, like the evil eye, which I then made in my own version using crayon and marker,” he says.
Waheed also infused the rugged texture of tyre tracks into his collection, from layering tyre mark prints over other designs to slitting and fraying layers of coloured fabric by hand for a rugged effect.
8. Frida from Karachi
In a collection called ‘Frida goes to Kharadar’ designer Deepak Perwani uses digital prints of Mexican artist Frida Kahloand her works, pairing them with bold graphic stripes to create a strong visual effect. He employed these prints to cuts and silhouettes reminiscent of Kahlo’s era.
9. Sheer headgear
Designer Maheen Khan had envisioned mesh headgearfor her collection ever since she read the IUCN's endangered birds list. With assistance from architect Aarij Hassan, the House of Maheen label constructed 12 different head pieces. The mesh, perched on top of the models' heads, created a nest like feel and a visual statement.
10. Best dressed celebrity
Singer and actress Meesha Shafi is easily named best dressed visitor at Lahore fashion week, sporting a fun, dark vibe on all four days in shades of blue and blacks.