A Sweet Little Retreat

The Lal’s Patisserie is a welcome addition to the food and beverage directory at Dolmen Mall

You’d think you were sitting in Europe if it weren’t for the distinctly desi eyeballs floating around, staring at the decadent chocolate strawberry waffle you were about to plunge a fork into. But that is the kind of ambience that the Lal’s Patiserrie has managed to create at Clifton’s beachside Dolmen City Mall. It may seem like being seated in a thoroughfare at times but nevertheless, Lal’s Patisserie is an extremely welcome addition to the food and beverage directory at the mall. It’s a delicately decorated space, populated by servers in mint and chocolate coloured uniforms. Tiny potted plants dot the wooden tables and large, hand-scrawled menus complete the bistro feel. Replete with the rich aroma of brewing coffee and a sweet smell of pastries, this waft has become the Pied Piper to tired, exhausted shoppers looking for a sugar break.

cafe

The menu, however, goes beyond desserts and delves into the delicacy of quick savory bites. A short selection of soups and salads plus sandwiches is what will give you the right amount of energy without pushing you into food coma. Friendly waiters seat you in a space that overlooks the entire mall and for a moment you are led into a blissful haven in which everything is okay.

The menu is as tiny as the patisserie itself so a couple of happy visits later, we had tried almost everything. The minestrone soup was heartening and the selections of salads provided the crisp freshness that one expects from a salad. We tried the Asian Noodle Salad as well as the Chicken Pineapple salad, which was more satisfying with its burst of tropical sweetness via the pineapple chunks and the surprise element of crushed oats at the base. Just as satisfying, the sandwiches are better hunger quenchers for they provide a hefty dose of carbs – taken as white or a healthy bran. The café hasn’t started its thin crust pizzas yet but it does offer a selection of light and creamy quiches; I would recommend a warm Chicken and Mushroom pie or even the Beef and Cheddar.

waffle

The only issue here is lack of an operational kitchenette. As most of the items are transported from the Lal’s Café on Shahbaz, they cannot be modified to the customer’s taste. Moreover, they run out pretty quickly, as was the case with the caramel éclairs which came and went by the time we tried to order them. It only goes to say that thedemand is greater than the supply.

Desserts being the Lal’s area of expertise, the éclairs were melt-in-the mouth, which was dangerous as one didn’t really count the calories until it was too late. For us, that point of sweet satiation came after several strawberry, caramel and chocolate éclairs, gelato and a slice of strawberry cheesecake. I have to say it was worth every bite!

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Is PIA finally ready for a makeover?

Pakistan International Airlines will be selecting one out of 16 proposed looks for a new, improved uniform. Is this the start of a new beginning for the distressed national carrier?

French designer Pierre Cardin came up with this iconic, chic look that was an instant hit with women all over the country and lasted from 1966 to 1975. (Image courtesy Ahmed S Siddiqui Collection)

French designer Pierre Cardin came up with this iconic, chic look that was an instant hit with women all over the country and lasted from 1966 to 1975. (Image courtesy Ahmed S Siddiqui Collection)

PIA may require a lot more than an improved image to make a comeback but for now a new uniform may be paramount to a new beginning. It’s a small step in what appears to be the right direction.

Keeping that in mind the national carrier has chosen 16 designers to create two to four coherent styles each for the Pakistan International Airline cabin crew. The outfits will be showcased in an upcoming fashion show in Karachi. Nabila, who has been roped in to style the show, will undoubtedly play a role in devising a fresh look for the crew as well. The outfits will be judged by a select panel of experts and one will be selected as the official new PIA uniform.

“This is not a competition,” Bunto Kazmi, who has been informally overlooking this project, said. “Everybody is working together and they are designing for the love of Pakistan. These people have such busy schedules and they have taken time out for this. It’s a collective exercise.”

“I do think it’s about time the (PIA) look changed,” she added.

PIA’s very first uniform (1954-56) was very western - incorporating a skirt and cap - which many air hostesses complained they were not comfortable in. (Image courtesy Ayaz Khan Collection)

PIA’s very first uniform (1954-56) was very western – incorporating a skirt and cap – which many air hostesses complained they were not comfortable in. (Image courtesy Ayaz Khan Collection)

The current PIA uniform, just to put things in perspective, is an in-house design (by Riffat Yasmin) but PIA has quite a style history to its credit. The very first uniform may have been a westernised skirt and blouse but PIA made a mark by being the first international airline to incorporate its national dress as its uniform in 1956. The shalwar and tunic was designed by Laila Shahzada and Chausie Fountainer, an American woman of French descent who was training the PIA cabin crew while on a five year deputation from Pan American World Airways. Feroze Cowasjee modified the look for a new uniform that lasted six years (1960-66) and in 1966 Pierre Cardin, the renowned French fashion designer, came up with the legendary slim-line style that was an instant hit and lasted till 1975.

Sir Hardy Amies – designer to Queen Elizabeth II – designed the next uniform (1975-1986) and in 1986 Pakistani designer Nahid Azfar took over in a very TeeJay’s inspired design that was seen till 2003. (Information courtesy History of PIA)

We have to agree that it is high time the national carrier got a new look.

To achieve this newly devised, contemporary image, 16 designers including Amir Adnan, Nomi Ansari, Shamaeel & Sonya Battla (working together), Nida Azwer, Ismail Farid, Omer Farooq of Republic, Fahad Hussayn, Maheen Karim, Misha Lakhani, Sania Maskatiya, Yasmin Sheikh, Shamoon Sultan, Ali Xeeshan and HSY have offered their expertise.

“I see a slightly individualistic look; our flight staff should not look like any other airline,” Amir Adnan shared his vision for the crew members (male). “There must be an element that distinguishes our cabin crew from the rest of the world. I’ve taken inspiration from the Chitrali chogha that comes in four distinct colours and I’ve contemporarized it. I’ve played around with the jacket and the collar.”

“It’s Pakistan representing itself all over the world so it’s where we are and where we want to go,” Misha Lakhani offered. “I am incorporating details from our heritage but the look will be chic and contemporary. It should not look like costume. The air hostesses should be able to take pride in what they’re wearing.”

“We want a look which is strong and slick,” said HSY, the only designer proposing designs for the women as well as men onboard. “The cabin crew is the first image people get of Pakistan around the world and that image has to be perfect. I don’t think it should necessarily be patriotic because patriotic too often translates to folksy. We don’t want that. We want a uniform that is smart and contemporary. People should stop at international airports and say, ‘wow, where is that crew from!’ I travel a lot and have been observing cabin crew uniforms; we have also done a lot of research asking the current crew on what they will and won’t wear.”

No matter which design is selected, it’s needless to say that the PIA cabin crew does deserve a break for their years of tolerance and resilience. Passengers will vouch for the lack of resources that PIA struggles with and the kind of (generally illiterate and uncouth) travellers that PIA staff has to deal with. The current, rather frumpy uniform does the crew no justice and the one thing they should be given is the confidence that may come with a smart uniform that cuts them an internationally acceptable figure.

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Lawn: love it or hate it, lick it!

I vow NOT to buy lawn every year. Every single year I say to myself, not this year, not with the fantastic variety of ready to wear available now. I have betted wagers against buying lawn.  And I have always lost those bets because I give in. Well, this year I thought that instead of resisting the temptation and then facing shame for being such a sucker, I would embrace lawn full throttle.

Now what? Well, I will be purchasing ONE of every brand I wish to and I shall keep a journal of the reviews. I’ll be judging lawn on originality, print design, quality of fabric and value for money. Let’s see how this resolution lasts. Will I get sick and tired of it before I get bankrupt, or after? Watch this space for Lawn Reviews…

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Yes, he Khan!

Fawad Khan goes down in history as Pakistan’s first actor to win a coveted Filmfare Award in India.Instep was lucky enough to catch Pakistan’s biggest star a day after the ceremony, in Mumbai, for an exclusive chat…

Photograph by Faisal Farooqui @ Dragonfly. Image courtesy Glam Magazine

Photograph by Faisal Farooqui @ Dragonfly. Image courtesy Glam Magazine

Fawad Khan’s popularity in India is not a myth.

One had been hearing about ‘the Fawad Khan hype’ across the border but it wasn’t until he stepped onto the Filmfare red carpet that one experienced the extent of his popularity. Women unleashed themselves upon him for a ‘selfie’, holding out smart phones and iPads to capture the star in the same frame as them. When his name was announced as winner of the Best Debut category for 2015, there was thunderous applause and you could have mistaken him for being a third generation Bollywood kid as opposed to a visiting actor – albeit a Khan – from Pakistan. His strongest contender, Jackie Shroff’s handsome son Tiger, left as soon as he lost to Fawad.

And Fawad didn’t behave like a newcomer either. Arriving fashionable later than many others, he was escorted straight to a front row seat next to some of the biggest names at the event. He may have confessed to “knocking knees and nerves” when his name was announced but his look was suave and his delivery was smooth, starting from the acceptance speech to the session of countless interviews that followed right after. As a Pakistani, he did us proud.

We caught up with Fawad a day after the Filmfares, still in Mumbai, as he was recovering from the ostensible exhaustion of what was, undoubtedly, a life-changing experience. He had already gone through three film narrations that day but barefoot in the comfort of his suite, he wore a relieved smile. Far away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi, his usually well-groomed hair was casually tousled with the slightest shadow of a relaxed Sunday stubble. Fawad was very pleased at his achievement but at the same time measured in his expression and careful to not let his victory get to his head.

There you were, amongst some of the biggest names in Indian cinema, that too with a coveted award in your hand. How big of a star do you feel today, a day later?

Fawad Khan: How big of a star? I just feel very fortunate, that’s all. I feel blessed. I was there, yes, I was amongst them, having been invited. Having being nominated in itself was a big honour and obviously winning was a cherry on top. But I was just as nervous as I am at any award ceremony back home. My knees are always knocking. The Filmfare Awards is a 60-year tradition and some of the greatest names have graced that stage. Standing there makes you speechless. It makes you feel kind of small. I’m obviously very proud of everything but it was very humbling.

Did you feel like an outsider at somebody else’s show?

FK: To be honest, it’s very sweet and very kind of them to have nominated me and rewarded me for my hard work but I’d have to say that it’s a token of love of my people. It’s not just my victory but I feel it’s the victory of the people I represent. In times like these it makes all the difference; it brings back some semblance of happiness. It gives people a cause for some celebration.

Take us through your day, up to the time when you arrived at the awards. Who put your wardrobe together, for instance?

FK: I have a wonderful stylist called Abhilasha, who along with Rhea (Kapoor) and Raghavendra (Rathore), were responsible for putting my outfits together for the film. Abhilasha did a lot of my outfits during the promotion. We have a great equation and she understands my sensibilities. She’s the one who decided what I’d wear. I do fret about the way I dress and I do tend to go into the nitty gritties and details. I admit that I do take a little more time than most people. I’m sure stars find dressing up effortless but I admit I have to put a lot of effort into it.

I was a bit stirred when I got there. I couldn’t figure out what was going on…you obviously get a little star struck. Although I was invited to sit at that (front row) seat, I didn’t sit in anyone else’s seat contrary to what people (with reference to Badar Khalil’s accusations) back home might think. I was in the front row with Vineet Jain (MD, Times of India Group), Jaya Bachchan and all these wonderful people like Kajol, Shahid Kapur and Madhuri sitting there. I had been advised to prepare a speech, which I hadn’t, because it feels braggish and pretentious to prepare a speech for something that could go either way. So I hadn’t prepared anything except for a string of words that just came out of my mouth. It was a bit of a jumble. I was truly overwhelmed and I was trembling inside.

Winning is a tremendous responsibility. Even if it were more of an everyday thing I would face stage fright. But here I was, after Nazia Hasan and Salma Agha, and I felt a tremendous weight on my shoulders. I always feel I am representing my people, wherever I am and no matter what capacity I’m in. It’s no cakewalk.

IMG_3739

You are Pakistan’s biggest star today; what level of responsibility does that come with?

FK: I think the responsibility of a star is just as much as any citizen. He or she may have more influence but it’s the collective influence of the people today that will make a difference in the lives of tens and millions of people living in the country, our country or any country in the world. And honestly, a lot of people enjoy and look up to your work and words but it’s individual effort that gets us to where we are and when that individual effort realizes itself collectively and when responsibility is shared is when we achieve goals.

Having said that, I am trying to make a difference in whatever capacity I can. I’ve been associated with a lot of charities – and I’m not saying charity is the only form of work – but if you’re the face of some cause then that’s where you have maximum opportunity to make a difference in some way or the other. So I have been associated with multiple organizations in the past four years and that’s how I offer my way of being responsible. I try to obey the law as much as I can. Even if I do not respect a certain system for being corrupt I will still follow the rules. We can say that the government is corrupt and the people don’t pay taxes but to change that you’ve got to be paying taxes yourself. I try to obey all the principles of being a responsible citizen.

Coming to India and seeing the pace of development compared to our pace of regression depresses most Pakistanis. As an actor working in both countries how does that make you feel? Do you think about it at all?

FK: Obviously, any person would think about it, especially a citizen of Pakistan. When I come here and I see a certain progressiveness I do feel that India has been blessed with a huge population. The sheer number of people here is massive. Yes, had there been no development these people would have become a burden but the people have come together and pushed it forward.

I do think we also have that tremendous ability, considering our size and the area we occupy. We’ve also faced a lot of diversity. Having said that we should not compare ourselves; we need to set our own benchmarks of how to move ahead. We have to set our own goals and strive towards them. Once we get into competition, it gives people a lot of room to complain about the ‘here’ and ‘there’ and we shouldn’t go there. It’s our responsibility to wake up and be morally correct.

I strongly believe that religion is not the only source that dictates morals. There may be religious people whose morals are completely screwed up and lesser religious individuals may seem like sinners in the eyes of the average zealot. And that’s the confusion that we need to get out of today. If we play it clean then there’s no stopping us. Where there is smoke there is fire and we have lots of fire. We have wildfire. Having said that I still appreciate the resilience of the people; we are still able to prove ourselves despite everything. And that should count for something and should motivate us to do a hundred times more.

All eyes are on you and the film you sign up next. Will you put rumours to rest and reveal what it’ll be?

FK: Nothing has been penned till now. This industry has been very warm and kind and generous and has welcomed me with open arms and I have had the fortune to meet people and discuss work and opportunities. I’ve had numerous conversations with top personalities here and they have offered things but I haven’t penned anything yet. Everything requires a protocol and these things take time. Rumours can come from even a simple conversation I have with someone. There are a lot of things in talks but nothing concrete yet. I like to take baby steps.

Baby steps are fine but when do we see you dancing around the Ushu Forest?

FK: Ooh, that’s one of my resolutions (laughs)! I’m definitely joining a dance camp, maybe just for physical fitness but those are things on my agenda. But yeah, I’m pretty much game for anything as long as the content stimulates me. Only if it stimulates me will I be in good form to convey the role more convincingly.

Are you training to dance though because there’s hardly an actor in Bollywood who can’t dance?

FK: That’s true, that’s so true. Even back home…I think I’m the only one in this tremendous pool of talent back home who cannot dance to save his life! But I’ll catch up. I think that if I’ve managed to make it this far then I’ll also manage to go further. Hopefully.

Does it scare you?

FK: Yes it does. I think if there’s any fear I have, to be very honest, it’s of people. They are my biggest supporters but sadly I fear people. I fear people in general. If someone was to ask me what’s my worst fear I’d say humans.

It doesn’t seem that way if we were to judge your comfort level with people by the number of selfies you have taken…you’re now officially Pakistan’s ‘selfie star’.

FK: I have Sonam to blame for that. It was one of those promotional tools during the campaign of the film. That’s one thing I can be angry at them for (laughs). But what a support system they have been for me. The whole office is like one big family, working in tandem.

And how does your actual family feel about your stardom and popularity?

FK: Well, there’s my better half sitting there… (points to his wife, Sadaf, who’s joining us over a cup of Masala tea); she’d be able to tell you better but I do think we’re doing alright. I do believe ghar ki murghi daal barabar hoti hai and Lahore for me does become that pot in which I’m the ghar ki murghi. I’m comfortable.

With his wife, Sadaf, after winning the Filmfare.

With his wife, Sadaf, after winning the Filmfare.

Sadaf, he gets so much female attention. Do you ever wonder, sitting in Lahore, what is Fawad up to in Mumbai? Did that very steamy shoot with Sonam (for Filmfare magazine), for instance, worry you?

Sadaf Fawad: The Filmfare shoot happened in front of my eyes, and I guess the more you’re exposed to these things the more you become comfortable with them. You know that one minute the person is posing and the next they are only worried about how they are individually looking in the picture. She runs to her makeup and he runs to his makeup and there is no connect. Of course, if I just saw the pictures and wasn’t on the set then I’d wonder and maybe worry. I’d be imagining things but now I know what happens. It was two hours, 12 dresses and very mechanical.

Of course I had initial acceptance issues but it’s okay now…

And the kiss. What about the kiss?

FK: Oh, there was no kiss (Fawad laughs). It was a peck on the cheek. I do think I respect the sensibilities of my audience.

Your audience is as much in India and the world as it is in Pakistan.

FK: Understandable. But the thing is, as an actor there will be roles that you play and they are portrayals of actual human beings. No one can deny the fact that, and no one can put a taboo on me to say that, loved ones in Pakistan do kiss each other. It would be incorrect and unfair and extremely immature of anyone to say otherwise. But the fact is that there’s not too much acceptance of it onscreen. Bringing a kiss onscreen is still a bit of a taboo. You’ve allowed the most vulgar of rain dances as a form of entertainment but not something as harmless as a kiss. We allow the opinions of people to influence us. Most of the ‘critics’ are people posting things on the internet anonymously and you can’t take them all seriously.

Sadaf and I stepped out for a shawerma last month and the servers recognized me and asked for autographs. They were interested in what I was doing next, who I’d be working with….that’s my core audience and they want to see me do more work and succeed.

Coming back to the kiss, I think it’s something we have not arrived at yet. I don’t know when we’ll be able to but if you look at television there are a lot of (former) taboos being discussed. In fact it’s becoming a bit of a habit, which is also becoming bothersome because then we get repetitive content. You see a serial in which one sister is mooching off the other sister’s husband. You’re portraying that even though you may not be showing it but twenty years ago you may not have been able to even suggest that on TV. I think it was Samina Peerzada’s Karb, which was an amazing serial and broke boundaries.

Is television on the cards for you?

FK: No. Not at the moment.

Is music on the cards for you?

FK: I don’t know.

Hasn’t Bollywood asked you to sing?

FK: A lot of times, yeah. But I’m not really a singer. I’ve been out of the game for too long and at the risk of disappointing fans, I’d say that I didn’t pursue singing with the same dedication with which I pursued the art of making music. For the longest time I felt I could be a really great producer, composer or song-writer. So I never took singing forward. I had been doing a lot of rock and metal, which still are my favourite genres, there’s no doubt about it. But then I lost touch of things. Right now anything is on the cards. As an actor I want to explore my potential and then decide what I suck at.

And where will you be watching the Pakistan-India match?

FK: Oh God, that’s a really big one. I’ll be home cheering for Pakistan. I was a cricket maniac up till 1996 when Pakistan lost to India in Bangalore. It was the kind of defeat that disheartened me. I cried so much that my father asked me to leave the room to save myself the heartbreak. I was so young and that kind of defined me for the next few years. Till I turned 20 I was a rebel without a cause and everything was about winning. Then I tempered down and my temper cooled down. But with that I lost my taste for cricket.

An India-Pakistan match has an almost religious feel. My best wishes for my cricket team and I’ll say what I’ve said before: winning or losing comes with the game but support should be consistent. Disappointment is understandable but don’t take it to an inhuman level. Don’t let your team down in your support. It’s kind of like how we treat cops in Pakistan, We should be making superhero films with cops, like a super cop. That’s something I’d love to do. If you support something then look for the potential for excellence. I salute the hockey team; they’re still in the game. But look at how many things have fallen apart because they’re not supported. So whether Pakistan wins or loses, hey I’m with the team.”

Published in Instep on Sunday, February 15, 2015

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“When words fail us, music speaks.”

 History is made as Ali Zafar brings a supergroup of stars together for ‘Urein Ge’, a song with the potential to become an anthem of hope.

Ali Zafar and Fawad Khan

Ali Zafar and Fawad Khan

 A black makeshift curtain kept the light out of one tiny part of Studio 146 in Karachi last Saturday. It kept out light, attitude, egos and stardom. More than 25 high profile artists brought nothing but pure humanity through that blackened entrance on Ali Zafar’s call that day, coming together for a moment of heartfelt lyrical inspiration. As Sahira Kazmi said, it was Ali’s good will that brought everyone together at a phone call. Sajjad Ali added that he knew Ali wouldn’t be calling them for something trivial. From Mahira Khan to Meesha Shafi and Marina Khan, Sajjad Ali to Shoaib Malik, Fawad Khan to Ali Azmat… they came and left for a cause that has left Pakistan in a state of shock.

A recording session similar to Karachi was organized in Lahore two days later, culling another two dozen veterans from all genres. Ali Zafar managed to bring over forty stars together for ‘Urein Ge’, an anthem he had written for the children of the Army Public School in Peshawar. One man with his heart in the right place and the vocals to serenade a cause, an unprecedented supergroup of stars and finally, a song that had the potential to become an anthem of hope. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that history was being made in Pakistan.

“I wanted to revisit my musical side but I couldn’t find it in my heart to sing until and unless I addressed the issues that are haunting us today,” Ali shared, between takes. It took him a week to write ‘Urein Ge’, which comes as the first song he has written in four years. “I’ve never made clichéd patriotic songs but this is a cause that I felt we had to talk about. That cause is the future of our children. The cause is to not let Pakistan be sabotaged by one destructive mindset. To create a Pakistan where people can coexist peacefully, where people from all religions can live peacefully and respect each other. We are living in these times because of some of the mistakes that the previous generations made. This is not the Pakistan that we wanted but now it’s up to us to change things for our children.”

 “Urein ge uss aasman main

Jahan dard ka koi mara na ho

Beghar koi besahara na ho

Kissi maa se bichra koi dulara na ho

Siva ishq ke koi chara na ho…

 (“We will fly in a sky

Where no one will quiver in pain

No one will be homeless or helpless

No mother will be separated from her child

Love will be the only option”)

Very Lennonesque in its approach, ‘Urein Ge’ does bring out the Sufic side of Ali Zafar, the side that also brings out the romantic in him.

“This is what Lennon said back then and the thought is Utopian but then I’m an idealist and a romantic and I aspire for perfection,” he agreed. “I also feel that there’s too much negativity in society right now and we have to counter it. Turn the TV on and people are fighting, they’re lying, they’re arguing. This has to change.

Ali Kazmi, Sahira Kazmi, Behroze Sabzwari, Sajjad Ali, Mohd Ali Shaykhi. Ali Zafar, Javed Sheikh and Fahad Mustafa on the sets of 'Urein Ge'.

Ali Kazmi, Sahira Kazmi, Behroze Sabzwari, Sajjad Ali, Mohd Ali Shaykhi. Ali Zafar, Javed Sheikh and Fahad Mustafa on the sets of ‘Urein Ge’.

“The real Ali Zafar is a musician with a sense of responsibility,” he continued. “I feel music is closer to my heart than acting. I’m taking a break from Bollywood to come here and make films here. The next year is for Pakistan.”

However, he hastened to add, today and ‘Urein Ge’ was not about him at all.

“This is the best I could do,” he said with a streak of resignation running parallel to his determination to contribute to the cause. “Music goes a long way; when words fail, music speaks. Music goes deeper into the soul and has long lasting impact. This song is aspirational and is intended to give hope. And people will remember that at a time which was so difficult, so many icons came together to put across a message. The message is that we will not forget what happened; we will not forget the children. I think what happened in Peshawar is the worst of the worst of what has ever happened in Pakistan. Innocent children were targeted, and the idea is to go to the school and sing for them. That is the plan, depending on the sentiments there. We want to wait for the right time.”

Until that right time comes, ‘Urein Ge’ will play on the airwaves and keep the memory of December 16 fresh in our memories. Because we do have a tendency to forget. We also face one crisis after the other, each more horrifying than the last. Recording an anthem may appear to some as a superficial opportunity to show some celebrity empathy but what a movement like this does is document an incident for generations to come. It doesn’t happen so often in Pakistan but it’s common for artistes to come together for a cause elsewhere in the world. The difference is that songs for a cause usually come with a benefit or fundraising capacity.

Ali Z and Mahira

Ali Z and Mahira

‘We Are the World’ is the best example of how one song became a super hit charity single. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie in 1985, it brought over 30 stars together in support of the USA for Africa project and the single sold over 20 million copies, managing to raise over 60 million for famine-stricken Africa. The proceeds were distributed in Ethiopia, Sudan and other impoverished African countries. A new version of ‘We are the World’ was recorded on February 1, 2010 to raise funds for Haitians dealing with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.

The Band Aid classic, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ put together by Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure is another example of how 3.7 million copies of a single were sold to raise eight million for famine relief in Ethiopia. New versions of this song have been recreated over the years, the fourth and latest being one dedicated to raise funds for Ebola victims in West Africa.

Urein Ge’ may not be selling and raising millions for charity and relief work in Pakistan but it is a step in the right direction. Perhaps it isn’t even too late to organize a Live Aid kind of concert for a cause or simply to raise awareness against the evils that are infiltrating our society. There certainly is no dearth of causes in Pakistan and the stars are obviously onboard. ‘Urein Ge’ should be the first step to a flight for change and reform. This may all sound too Utopian but then dreams always are. And so it is just as important to keep dreaming and keep those hopes alive.

 

A bevy of stars reach out to the students of the Army Public School in Peshawar to reiterate Ali Zafar’s message of hope in ‘Urein Ge’.

A bevy of stars reach out to the students of the Army Public School in Peshawar to reiterate Ali Zafar’s message of hope in ‘Urein Ge’.

(Published in Instep, The News on Sunday on Feb 1, 2015)

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Extra miles for the Millennials

The Fashion Pakistan Council creates an exclusive launchpad for young designers, allowing them the attention that they merit. 

Madiha Raza won a slot in the next Fashion Pakistan Week; her collection Flight of Birds gave her wings to fly!

Madiha Raza won a slot in the next Fashion Pakistan Week; her collection Flight of Birds gave her wings to fly!

Bought this feathered bag right off the runway. Loving it!

Bought this feathered bag right off the runway. Loving it!

Taking young designers out of the main fashion week lineup was the best thing Fashion Pakistan Council could have done to serve its long-standing commitment to promoting young talent. Far from being awkward misfits in a display of experienced and veteran designers (which they usually are as part of the main show), the fledglings were shining stars at the Maybelline NY Millennial Fashion 2014 last weekend. The show was held at the IVSAA three days before Fashion Pakistan Week was scheduled to begin.

The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture is such an inspiring venue to create a young designer launch pad at and this is where the Fashion Pakistan elements came together and illumed for the first time. The inexperienced yet energetic heads – Chairperson Sanam Chaudhri and CEO Wardha Saleem – shepherded equally passionate members of their clan, the selected five upcoming designers preened on the red carpet and in the same debutant streak, fashion model Fayeza Ansari took (or rather guided) her first steps as a fashion show choreographer. It was all very motivational. The Millennial Show is scheduled to continue as an annual tradition and if it manages to project and promote even one standout designer a year, then that will be an amazing legacy this council will leave behind.

Aalish Mansoor

Aalish Mansoor

Nitasha Yaqub

Nitasha Yaqub

This inaugural year, five young designers showcased their carefully manufactured collections at the pilot event. The evening began with Royal Soccer by Aalish Mansoor, who had some interesting ideas in terms of print and layering. He unfortunately fell short in his choice of fabric and his imperfect finish. This actually made one wonder whether the council had organized funds for these upcoming designers to create capsule collections (which can be an expensive project) or were they left to their own resources.

“The Millennials were provided with a complete platform to show their collections along with being mentored by board members of our board,” Sanam Chaudhri explained the mechanics of the initiative. “These designers are not fresh graduates but have (already) stepped into the market one way or the other. No participation fee was charged and the winner, Madiha Raza, will be given a free slot in FPW S/S 2015.”

Nitasha Yaqub and Sameer Sain followed with women’s wear and men’s wear respectively. PIFD (Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design) graduate, Nitasha’s inspiration for Vanishing Culture was the Anglo-Saxon influence in the Indian sub-continent but came off without making a statement. It was more Sunday school finery than a reflection of a powerful time in the history of this region. While her craftsmanship was well balanced and delicate, the silhouette could have done with a little progression to the twenty first century instead of being held hostage in the past.

Sameer Sain

Sameer Sain

Sameer Sain showed more promise as a contemporary of this day and age. His Modern Denimology collection showed quirks and presented experimentation in terms of design. Sameer was also spot-on trend with his choice of fabric; denim is a popular order of the season. That said, the market for kitsch menswear is very limited and one yearns to see younger designers innovate within the peripheries of wearable design. Cases in point: Ahmed Bham, Ismail Farid, Deepak Perwani, Amir Adnan and Republic.

Millennial Fashion was Abel Emmanuel’s second Fashion Week outing; he also showed at the Al-Falah Rising Talent showcase at FPW earlier this year. This collection, Scarlet Night, showed a level of maturity coming from the AIFD (Asian Institute of Fashion Design) graduate, his prints were interesting and his fusion of silhouettes was promising if not outstanding.

Abel Emmanuel

Abel Emmanuel

The star of the show, indisputably, was Madiha Raza who was in a different league from the get-go. It wouldn’t be premature to say her Flight of Birds would have easily flown over a couple of collections at the main FPW showcase, which validates her popular win (through voting) at the Millennial. An IVSAA graduate, colour, texture and craft was Madiha’s strongpoint, something she graciously credited her mentors.

“Shenaz Ismail and Maheen Khan have influenced my evolution as a designer,” she said when speaking to Instep. “IVSAA taught me the basics, Shahnaz Ismail taught me how to critically analyse and Maheen Khan refined my thinking process, guided me through out and taught me.”

There was visible comfort with technique in her work, from laser cutting, print, leather, silk and most significantly, a balanced combination of it all. Madiha’s attention to precision was refreshingly apparent in her accessories; the bags had been layered with paradisiacal colours and even the shoes were given wings. These are the wings that Madiha will fly on from.

Madiha Raza

Madiha Raza

Her personal flight from college to professional life has been inspirational. She graduated from IVSAA in 2009, with distinction, and wasted no time in opening her own label Handmade, in 2011, in collaboration with her sister, Imrana Shehryar. Madiha’s craft caught on like wildfire and she was roped into manufacturing the lighter range of bags for both Tapu Javeri and Deepak Perwani’s popular collections. An obvious favourite amongst the veterans, one can proudly say that it was pure merit on which this talented Millennial made it to the forefront.

Madiha was the undisputed winner of the Millennial Show and will be showcasing in the mainstream at FPW SS 2015, scheduled for March 31 next year.

“I am looking forward to FPW/SS – anxiously,” she concluded in her brief conversation with Instep.

As someone who already has a strong sense of balance between creative (that collection spelt perfection) and commercial (she already has a small store in Tauheed Commercial), Madiha Raza is the ideal candidate to spearhead the Millennial project. This extremely successful debut of the Millennial show is undoubtedly the beginning of a highly anticipated annual event. Fashion Pakistan has launched many young and now successful names over the years: Adnan Pardesy, Mahin Hussain, Naushaba Brohi (Inaaya), Sanam Chaudhri, Maheen Karim, Wardha Saleem and Aamna Aqeel to name just a few. The Millenial Show was the best way to own the tradition and help it evolve.

 Photographs by Kashif Rashid

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FPW: Adnan Malik, Sikander Rizvi & Ayesha Omar scorch the catwalk

Designers brought some stardust to the runway on Day 2 of Fashion Pakistan Week

Adnan Malik and Sikander Rizvi, Deepak Perwani eye candy

Adnan Malik and Sikander Rizvi walked the runway for Deepak Pertain

Adnan Malik and Sikander Rizvi walked the runway for Deepak Pertain

Deepak Perwani has been designing for musicians and celebrities for so long that there were bound to be some surprises up his velvet sleeve. But who would have thought that the very shy Sikander Rizvi would have stepped out of Xander’s for a walk down the runway. He was, of course, a vision for sore eyes.

Adnan Malik, looking more svelte and dapper than ever these days, also took to the catwalk and all one could think of was “Khalil”. Previously better known to music and fashion circles, where he has mostly worked within, Adnan Malik has just recently acquired a new level of popularity via his lead role in TV serial Sadqay Tumhare. All we can say is that he looked every bit the tall, dark and handsome hero.

“Since I was showing menswear after a long time, I thought I should at least give something to the women,” Deepak Perwani cheekily commented after the show. We have to agree that this was eye candy at its very best!

Ayesha Omar, Shehla Chatoor’s Misaki

Ayesha Omar has become quite the brand ambassador for Shehla Chatoor and looked picture pretty in the delicate pastel ensemble.

Ayesha Omar has become quite the brand ambassador for Shehla Chatoor and looked picture pretty in the delicate pastel ensemble.

Ayesha Omar, the petite star of TV’s popular sitcom Bulbulay, made a pretty appearance for Shehla Chatoor. Wearing a delicate grey and pastel blossomed silk skirt from Shehla’s breath taking Misaki collection Ayesha breezed past the front rowers who were all sighs at the sight. Misaki means ‘beautiful blossom’ and is also a common Japanese girl’s name.

“Ayesha and I have always had a nice chemistry,” Shehla spoke to Instep after the show. “I didn’t intend to have a celeb on the runway but when I designed the outfit I knew it was her. She fit the Jap theme so well. People do associate her with my brand now and I’m just glad it turned out so

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