The second instalment of the Bridal Couture Week (BCW) saw the event straddle both the business and fashion of the bridal industry in equal strength. As intended, a free-for-all gargantuan exhibit housed numerous brands associated with weddings at one end of the Expo Center, while the other end played host to the city’s fashion circuit.
The BCW had debuted quite modestly in Lahore last year, but Karachi heavily increased the glam factor with an 85-feet elevated ramp that was enveloped in a scarlet carpet with crimson chandeliers suspended from the ceiling against a backdrop of mirrored strings spreading the lights and casting a very Devdas film set look for a stage fit for a bridal extravaganza. Body Beat’s dance troupe leader Hasan Rizvi, who’s performances peppered the latter half of the evening, added an exciting bonanza of dance that may have appeared cheesy to some but worked exceedingly well to ignite some excitement in the rambling evening and put an essential aspect of weddings – the mehndi (henna night) dances – into spotlight.
India’s famed JJ Valaya opened for the night with a muted antiquated collection that represented the regalia that his brand is famous for. Exquisitely embellished models slithered onto the ramp to exhibit the breadth of the brand: a signature JJ Valaya concoction of a flouncy ruffled skirt with an elaborately worked coat, short gold lame coats with an array of worked lehnagas, and exquisite net saris. A royal Mughlai full length open sherwani for men caught the eye for its stunning craftsmanship – for that rare groom who wants an authentic royal wedding experience. While the clothes were enough to generate the wow factor, a resplendent Meera sauntered onto the ramp as the show-stopper decked in red and served as the proverbial cherry on the cake. Talking about his collection, Valaya said: “Couture is not only bridal, it is more than that. [I believe] this was a fair collection to bring to Pakistan!”
Tehmina Khaled, a renowned Pakistani fashion journalist, commented: “JJ Valaya came to Pakistan 11 years ago. Since then many people have tried to bring him here, he has given a niche to pret wear in India, and to couture, he has given another noble concept.”
Neelo Allawala followed next. At the Red Carpet, Neelo said about her collection: “Tonight, I am showcasing Mughal miniatures which consists of heavy bridal couture and is very traditional.” Mostly toying with black and beige, her collection was based on silk and jamawar fabric. Her collection received a wow bordering on shock as it so brazenly replicated Shamaeel Ansari’s mughal miniature art collection from last year.
While no one can solely lay claim to artistic motifs since they are aspects of a shared culture, the methodology and skill with one uses a cultural emblem can certainly be distinct. Allawala lifted Ansari’s aesthetic stitch by stitch to even include the jewelled neckline which the latter had created for a collection that claimed to draw inspiration from the subcontinent but just couldn’t deliver on that broad promise. Allawala’s line of black net dresses with nude sheaths, further shocked an onlooker but, was cleverly done to create the requisite impact that the screen prints could not.
While Maheen Khan and bridals, particularly of the sub continental kind, do not go together, Khan delivered a short, sweet and impactful collection in virgin white. Pristine and ethereal, her garments with minimal embellishment glided onto the ramp with a trembling fragility unique to the designer’s personal sense of style that showcased the conventional western white bride ala Pakistan.
New comers, Ayesha and Somaiya stood out for a collection of cocktail dresses that were sophisticated and elegant in their trailing silhouettes that resonated with character from a conspicuous use of dragon and bird motifs. The duo, who first launched their brand in 2008, demonstrated their flexibility for the market by toning down on the oomph and utilising the dresses as kameezes. This is a collection that will work extremely well with the expatriate population residing in the Gulf and for the modern Pakistani bride whose shaadi dinners comprise more of cocktail evenings than traditional family do’s.
Rehana Saigol closed the show in her characteristic old world charm that had overdosed on bling that is signature to the brand. Saigol showcased her traditional wear that she presented this winter at the Islamabad Fashion Week for a non contrite show of glittering conventional charm that may perceived as gaudy. It was a dizzy array of heavily encrusted ensembles that work very well with a local market that wants the Indian touch to their wedding gear.
Bridal Couture Week – Day 1
- JJ Valaya: Sheer net lehenga worn over a bold colored churidaar and silken scarves worn as cravats with suede accents
- Neelo Allawala: Plain crushed lehengas worn with a worked long shirt that can easily be utilized as a kameez after the wedding is over.
- Maheen Khan: Pakistani reincarnation of the virgin bride bathed in white with a net veil for that touch of romance to the whole ensemble.
- Ayesha and Somaiya: Beaded twists for straps on kameezes and shimmering clustered sequined coat worn with a strong color block.
- Rehana Saigol: Half velvet half brocade paloo on saris.