THIS SITE HAS SHIFTED!

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“Fashion Week is the time to show off a little”

 

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Safinaz Muneer talks about showing at the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week, their Spring/Summer 2015 collection and how exhausting fashion weeks can be when they’re two too many!

The Sana Safinaz showing on the fourth and final day of the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week was undoubtedly one of the strongest, most memorable of the day. It’s hard to get over those vibrant pops of colour set against a monochrome canvas of black and white stripes. It was a happy collection, one that lifted the soul into a summer vacation on some sandy beach by aqua blue water. That’s the thing about the brand Sana Safinaz, it delivers a unique feel-good factor, one that comes with glamour and gorgeousness.

Sana Safinaz

Sana Safinaz (3)

I bumped into Safinaz as she was exiting the cinema after watching “a very violent” Avengers flick. You may think – and be forgiven – for thinking that all she does is work but she can be spotted at the cinema very often.

“It’s all anyone wanted to watch!” she laughed. “If you’re going in then be prepared for a lot of violence!”

I’d rather think about the PSFW collection, which was a very glamorous take on eveningwear: black and white with pops of colour. It wasn’t visible of the ramp but up close you’d notice that the colourful flowers were done in applique. There was a lot of texture and lace effect, created with fabric on fabric. Some of the prints were screens but others had been created with applique and sequins. It was all quite a glorious bouquet.

Sana Safinaz

Sana Safinaz

“The catwalk is a little platform to show off on,” she said, adding that the outfits may have been predominantly western but these clothes will be diffused and adapted to retail in their stores by the end of the month. They are already taking orders on the heavier eveningwear, mostly the black and white pieces.

I asked her why and how she had decided to show so regularly, as clearly the stores and lawn had kept them extremely busy.

“Showing pays off because it keeps you constantly in the media and that reinforces you as a brand. A good collection shows your strength as a brand, which is important,” she reinforced. “But it really is exhausting and if Karachi and Lahore don’t get their act together and show together then designers will have to make strict choices. If they don’t then I’d say that the councils are being selfish and just feeding egos because so many fashion weeks are not good for the industry. As you noticed, Lahore didn’t have a great lineup this time and that’s only because of fashion fatigue. Designers are scrambling and we’re not on an international level, no matter what we think of ourselves. We have to accept that. I can show twice a year not four times a year.”

Did participation in fashion shows help their business?

“It’s not just about showing but about making a business out of the show,” she replied. “Shows are a great platform and they filter into the media and social media and give good mileage but we’ve gone from shows to lawn to Eid collections and thinking of four shows a year is exhausting and impossible. We still have to decide whether we’ll be showing in Karachi or Lahore in Autumn.”

– Photographs by Faisal Farooqui @ Dragonfly

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WHY MAHGUL STANDS OUT

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I remember Mahgul Rashid’s debut at the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week in 2013. It was impressive but even more effective was the machinery that helped elevate her brand into public and media consciousness. Mahgul is Nasreen Sheikh’s grand daughter and with Selina Rashid (Lotus PR) as her sister-in-law (Mahgul is married to Selina’s brother) it was expected that she would get excellent PR. And she did. With celebrities like Meesha Shafi wearing and showing off Mahgul designs on the red carpet, she got the visibility a new brand can only dream of and it seemed that this young designer was all set to take off. To be fair, she did appear to have ideas.

Mahgul Rashid is shy and reclusive until she starts talking about her love for art and design.

Mahgul Rashid is shy and reclusive until she starts talking about her love for art and design.

Then she decided to sit out the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week in 2014, opting for a bridal showcase at the PFDC L’Oreal Bridal Week later in 2014. It was decent, but nothing memorable. It didn’t have the impact that Mahgul’s debut had had and she kind of slid into the backseat. Personally, I still didn’t have enough information or impression to form an opinion on the young brand. There were no eureka moments.

That changed when I recently visited her studio in Lahore and checked out her range of limited edition cottons. That, and speaking to her at length about her design ethos and thought process, has changed r rather has helped me form a fair opinion. My opinion on Mahgul Rashid: she’s an extremely intelligent designer who weaves thought process into her designs. She doesn’t make pretty clothes (though most of them end up looking fantastic), but clothes with quirk and character. It’s the sign of a genuine designer, one who doesn’t design for the masses but designs for her own satisfaction and is happy with the fact that fewer women will wear her clothes but those who do will be the ones who connect with what she is designing.

The optical illusion tiger print.

The optical illusion tiger print.

It's a bug's life!

It’s a bug’s life!

A neon zipper holds together an edgy botanical print.

A neon zipper holds together an edgy botanical print.

And so I ended up buying three Mahgul Rashid tunics from her exclusive summer collection. One, the silk, was a black print with tiger faces all over an edgy black pattern. This print was inspired by Richard Parker and the visual effects from Life of Pi. It was all about optical illusion, just like the film. The second tunic, a short top, has detailed art work of dissected fruits. Weird as this may sound, I love the interplay of leaves and seeds and the florescent orange zip just holds it together. The third, a more conventional tunic, is a simple striped lightweight cotton but the fly on the back lends it its character. I’m not a fan of creepy bugs but this one just begged for attention.

There were at least five other tunics I would have happily bought had they fitted or had I the money. It’s not the best idea to have an exhibition at the tail end of the month when budgets are low. The good thing is that Mahgul isn’t going anywhere. This exhibition at Ensemble may be over but the brand certainly will go places.

Three cheers for design!

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The Verdict on Nabila’s No Makeup Palette

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This is not a paid post. I’m reviewing Nabila’s No Makeup Palette in absolute fairness and love for a product that has changed the way I do my makeup every morning.

Safinaz, Nabila and I at the Karachi launch of No Makeup. I have been using the palette since then; it's a perman

Safinaz, Nabila and I at the Karachi launch of No Makeup. I have been using the palette since then; it’s a permanent fixture in my bag.

What fun: Amna Baber, Noore and Cybil trying out the palette at fashion week.

What fun: Amna Baber, Noore and Cybil trying out the palette at fashion week.

I’m not someone who uses makeup. And even at 41 my daily routine before No Makeup was moisturizer, eye liner/pencil and lip balm or a very light lipstick. Formal makeup for me was the addition of mascara and blush. For the last two years I have indulged in BB and then CC cream for a blended/tanned look that I’ve always wanted. Not that I ever managed to achieve it.

I must confess that I wasn’t too happy with the way my face appeared; it was always sort of underdone and patchy, and I wanted to look a bit more polished. So what? The options were mind-boggling and I had absolutely no expertise on my hands. Along came Nabila’s No Makeup Palette and actually gave me the perfect solution.

No Makeup comes in 5 tones: NGelic (lightest), NGage, NTice, NLight and NChant (darkest) and I was recommended NGage. I wanted a shade darker because I’ve been told that the face photographs better when darker, and I’m one of those freaks who prefers dark skin to light, but Nabila refused, saying it would look artificial. I would either have to get a tan or I would have to cheat by brushing over my makeup with a bronzer. In the absence of time and space to tan, I chose the latter.

My favourite parts of the palette are the concealer and blender, which leave the skin looking uniform and velvety. It’s not at all chalky, as foundations often are. I love the blush/rouge though it has become a little dry. I also feel you end up using more than you need. The ‘pout’ stain is a neutral, natural tint that prevents your lips from looking washed out. I use it with my lip balm. Under the four-way palette is a pressed powder, which may appear too light but works for blotting off excess oil on the t-area. The issue here: the applicator sponge doesn’t fit over the powder. So I’ve ended up taking it out of the compact altogether. The good thing: everything can be managed with a fingertip, within one minute. For Rs 6500 that’s not bad at all.

While No Makeup is available at Scentsation, I would recommend you go to Nabila’s salon in Lahore or Karachi and ask for a demonstration before buying it. It will be completely worth it, and you’re welcome to post your feedback here in either case.

Leaving you with some fun images of No Makeup…

Nabila with Ayesha Tammy Haq, one of the first people to have experienced No Makeup, when it was being formulated. Nabila has been using it in her salon for ages and Tammy remembers it is what she used on her very first TV show.

Nabila with Ayesha Tammy Haq, one of the first people to have experienced No Makeup, when it was being formulated. Nabila has been using it in her salon for ages and Tammy remembers it is what she used on her very first TV show.

Nabila demonstrating to Huma, who has difficult skin.

Nabila demonstrating to Huma, who has difficult skin.

Mahira and Fia at the launch

Mahira and Fia at the launch

Nabila's daughter-in-law and 'right hand man', Sara, with Sana Bucha.

Nabila’s lovely daughter-in-law and ‘right hand man’, Sara, with Sana Bucha.

 

It's No Makeup, so totally recommended to men as well, as we see Nomi getting his demo from Sara.

It’s No Makeup, so totally recommended to men as well, as we see Nomi getting his demo from Sara.

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PSFW: from The World of HSY to #SunsilkDreams

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High Tea with HSY – Visit to Mahgul’s Studio – The #SunsilkDreams Treasure Hunt – Voile Shows – Dinner at Tokyo

 It was a fun working day that started at 12pm at the HSY Gulberg Galleria store. The ‘press meet’ was held to celebrate the store’s one-year anniversary, the HSY brand’s 21-year anniversary and to update the media on plans for the brand. After spending an hour in the store, hearing the man’s vision for his brand, I only wondered when he would be standing for elections because that’s all that he wasn’t doing.

Celebrating 21 years of HSY, Sheru.

Celebrating 21 years of HSY, Sheru.

‘Sheru’ as he’s fondly known as, walked everyone through the HSY expansion to Karachi, due this October. He shared his CSR that included projects with Shergarh, CARE and the Ladies Fund for educating young girls. He also revealed that his TV show, Tonight With HSY, was approved for a third season (and that FOX had approached him for a movie role but he had to decline). He was also working on Asad ul Haq’s Dekh Magar Pyar Say as Creative Director. There was HSY Events under which he’d be doing two award shows this year. And then there was The World of HSY, his personal website that would invite all his followers to his life. www.theworldofhsy.com is up for visits.

Inky blue cupcakes, resonating with the theme.

Inky blue cupcakes, resonating with the theme.

So, it was an extremely well-attended events, with all of fashion’s exhausted media turning up in the midst of a busy fashion week to hear what the man had to say. And he spoke for more than half an hour without boring anyone. Dynamic, Sheru is a gifted speaker. At the end he concluded with a sneak peak to his fashion week collection, INK, which derived from the colour blue and created whatever inspired him as trends for spring/summer 2015.

INK, the collection

INK, the collection

After catching up with Momina Sibtain over lunch at Gunsmoke, another friend and I headed out for a visit to Mahgul’s studio. In process of shifting, the studio was a bit of a mess but we managed (with the help of Buzzy) to take our pick from her fabulous, whimsical voile prints and patterns that were quirky and so summer appropriate. Can’t wait for that delivery, which should be in two week’s time.

Having enjoyed that essential spot of fashion retail therapy I headed back home to get ready for the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week Day 3, dedicated to voile shows. I won’t go into the details of the lineup because I’m doing that report for Instep (though I will say that Shubinak stole and saved the day!) but I will share details of the #SunsilkDreams treasure hunt that Sunsilk had organized for the media. We were supposed to find, photograph and share as many Sunsilk shampoo bottles in the lounge as we could and then share them on our social media accounts. (So if you’re following me on Instagram or Twitter then share/repost me bottles and help me win!)

My #SunsilkDream was not to behave like a 5 year old though it was fun!

My #SunsilkDream was not to behave like a 5 year old though it was fun!

I got there first and posted the first seven easily but I have to say that everyone else cheated by following my instagram and knowing exactly where to look! I gave up then because the shows were about to begin and I had given up hope. That said, it was fun while it lasted. As I told Sunsilk, my dream – if I were not a fashion journalist – would be to be a travel journalist. There’s still time for that I guess.

The day ended with a quick dinner at Tokyo, which came highly recommended but we were tempted to quickly exit before ordering because of the dull ambience. I’m glad we didn’t because the Sashimi Salad, the Shake Maki and the Crab Nigiri hit the spot for being fresh and very flavousome. It was the perfect end to a happening day.

Watch this space for detailed reviews of the voile shows…

 

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PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week: Day 2

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Quick and effective, this was a good day for fashion. The lineup was well-edited, the timings were great and the gorgeous Lahore weather just added a whole lot of sexy to the show.

Muse

Muse

Muse

Day 2 began on a spectacular note with Muse. There was sophisticated expression in those jackets, the straight column shirts (this is how you must do length, if you prefer keeping your shirts long) and the embellishment that was as refined as Muse always is. The metallic belts added a Parisian accent to the very versatile collection that will work in Pakistan and just as well, anywhere in the world. Monochrome in three standout colours, this collection was a winner, my favourite of the day.

Saira Shakira

Saira Shakira

Saira Shakira

This duo has a handle on style and isn’t afraid to experiment. Those bejewelled pockets were very hip, elevating an otherwise sexy but safe tunic. I loved their use of fringe, especially in one of the last outfits that belted the tassles worn over trousers. Again, very cool. There were some definite misses and the collection could have benefitted from some editing but overall it helped Saira and Shakira maintain their position as go-to designers for the coolios in Lahore.

Nida Azwer

Nida Azwer

Nida Azwer

Beautiful birds, immaculate craft and Nida’s favourite fusion of silhouettes – this collection was refreshing in the fact that there was no angarkha/anarkali and yet showed the designer stay loyal to her signature. That said, there weren’t many standout pieces. My favourite had to be the wraparound trousers worn with a three-tier blue top. Nida does bridal and luxury pet very well but the fact that she showed twice within a span of two weeks (here and at the Telenor Fashion Pakistan Week) revealed some traces of exhaustion.

Teena by Hina Butt

Teena by Hina Butt

Teena by Hina Butt

What I admire about this designer is the fact that she’s a sitting Member of Parliament (PML-Nawaz) and yet doesn’t shy away from her glamorous side. If anything, she embraces it. There are too many women who feel they have to toe the conservative line when in politics but there should be no restriction in continuing to be who you are, whether that means doing the hijab or doing the fashion runway. This sense of confidence is what makes Hina Butt a welcome member of fashion. While her designing may not be as revolutionary I actually enjoyed the use of colour and the ethnic elements too.

Zara Shahjahan

Zara Shahjahan

Zara Shahjahan

Quirky, androgynous and unapologetically left of centre, that’s Zara Shahjahan for you. That may not make her a great designer in conventional terms of the word, but is surely does make her a very interesting one. The waistcoats she added to an otherwise ‘luxury’ collection took her collection from run-of-the-mill, conventional glamorous to “I dare” experimental and that is what worked. Zara will hopefully manage to refine this sensibility with time; it works very well in her high street range and should easily work its way up to luxury as well.

 

 

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PSFW Day 1

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The first day of the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015 ended in absolute chaos. Guests in the audience were left in a state of complete disorientation when the last show of the day wrapped up at 9:15, ending at an unprecedented decent hour. Many of media’s fro-wers had sent their cars away, calling them back at 11pm. Others hadn’t planned anything for the evening ahead. Those invited to Ali Zafar’s party wondered how to kill time to not be the first ones there and one lost soul was even overheard saying, “Yar, they could have stretched it to 10. What will we do now!”

Personally, I felt it was delightful and set an extremely professional tone for the three days ahead. I’ve been saying it for years and while the PFDC, HSY and the entire management team deserves credit for making yesterday a disciplined event, I’ll take a little credit for nagging them in that direction too!

We landed in Lahore on Friday, to be welcomed by the colourful PSFW billboards.

We landed in Lahore on Friday, to be welcomed by the colourful PSFW billboards.

The very happening lunch hosted by PFDC at the newly opened Polo Lounge Cafe in Mall One. In the picture: Sara Shahid, Zainab Malik, Sehyr Saigol, Selina Rashid, me, Andleeb Rana and Fareshteh Aslam. Picture courtesy Siddy Says.

The very happening lunch hosted by PFDC at the newly opened Polo Lounge Cafe in Mall One. In the picture: Sara Shahid, Zainab Malik, Sehyr Saigol, Selina Rashid, me, Andleeb Rana and Fareshteh Aslam. Picture courtesy Siddy Says.

The boys who blog: I can't identify them all by name but I do see Aamiriat, Umairica, Lace&Scotch, Moovy Shoovy and more boys from the Lotus team.

The boys who blog: I can’t identify them all by name but I do see Aamiriat, Umairica, Lace&Scotch, Moovy Shoovy and more boys from the Lotus team.

The elegant Aamna Taseer came to lunch carrying a customised Fashion Compassion clutch with her name engraved on the clasp.

The elegant Aamna Taseer came to lunch carrying a customised Fashion Compassion clutch with her name engraved on the clasp.

The lunch ended on a very high note with a lot of catching up, fashion information exchange and general networking. Lahore always gets full marks for hospitality.

The couple of hours left after the lunch and before the shows were spent in preparations and contrary to tradition (which demands the show start late), the showcases started rolling out around 8pm. It was a quick, brief day, with only six designers on the lineup – that too without any breaks – so the most groundbreaking thing to happen was the 9pm conclusion. As HSY pointed out (several times), the evening ended at a great time!

But here’s what it offered in terms of content…

Fahad Hussayn

Fahad Hussayn

Fahad Hussayn

There’s no doubt that Fahad Hussayn has a fantastic sense of print and a strong handle on garment construction but his collections are now bordering on monotonous when it comes to the dark, melancholic and Gothic strain. There were some interesting pieces – like that all black outfit – but overall it all seemed like seen-before.

Bank Alfalah Rising Talent Show

Bank Alfalah Rising Talent Show

Bank Alfalah Rising Talent Show

Four young designers showed in the BARTS segment – Asrar Yaqoob, Hisham Malik, Najia Qazi and Nida Waqar and they all showed promise and potential. This was a much stronger showcase than what the BARTS featured two weeks ago at the TFPW in Karachi. One would like to see these students take it forward.

Misha Lakhani

Misha Lakhani

Misha Lakhani

Misha Lakhani

Misha Lakhani

This collection was a breath of fresh. Light, sophisticated and very summer-appropriate, I think my friend Andleeb Rana hit the nail on the head when she said this was perfect ‘Destination wedding’ material. Separates, resort wear and delicate whites for summer, this made for some very fresh viewing. As always, Misha Lakhani’s aesthetic was impeccable.

Zonia Anwaar

Zonia Anwaar

Zonia Anwaar

Another pleasant surprise was the collection, Zambezi, by petite young designer Zonia Anwaar. She may have faltered once since making a debut on this platform several years ago but Zonia shows potential each time. This time her tribal prints and patterns both made an impact and every piece had aesthetic and character. She promises that her collection will be available for retail, here’s keeping our fingers crossed.

Natasha Kamal

Natasha Kamal

Natasha Kamal

Natasha Kamal set up her eponymous outlet last year and took a year to bring her talent to fashion week. The collection showed a commitment to luxury clothing, with its use of fine fabric, impressive detailing and the expensive, couture feel that it exuded. That said, there wasn’t much that established her signature. There were no standout pieces that one will remember as Natasha Kamal’s. It was all very Elie Saab inspired, which the designer is actually known to be. To build a stronghold for herself as designer, NK will have to exhibit some more individuality, because she obviously does have the knack for it.

Nickie Nina

Nickie Nina

Nickie Nina

It was a collection better than the last few that they have shown on this platform. Nickie Nina brought out all-white for summer’s luxury pet and used a lot of beadwork and appliqué to make it appear light and cool. It was a collection that will work wonders commercially but again, when I look back I can’t think of a single stand out piece.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, the fashion was good. The best thing about the day, however, was the timing and the worse had to be the seating that was too close to the runway and too cramped. There is a second row guys, you don’t have to sit in each other’s laps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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