The 8 best collections at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week

The PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week (PSFW) this Spring/Summer didn’t boast an entirely stellar designer lineup.

Many of the event’s mainstays were missing; far too busy with designing lawn or creating collections for international events or merely saving up their creative juices for the more lucrative avenues of bridal week later in the year.

Dotted through the lineup, instead, was a motley crew of young labels. There were major high-street brands, voile contenders, young labels who had already carved a clientele for themselves and others, that were only just dabbling into fashion’s clustered waters.

Despite this, the event delivered more highs than lows. One says this, of course, while ignoring the voile shows that never really manage to up the fashion quotient although they do perform the important function of generating income for the fashion week organizers.

Ruling the roost, instead, were high-street brands. Khaadi Khaas, Generation and Sapphire presented three of the best, most memorable collections at PSFW this year. While all three brands can now be considered market heavyweights, they refreshingly chose to veer away from the generic kurtas that sell so well in their retail stores. Instead, inventive, artistic design took center stage, indicating that perhaps there is hope for our lawn-strewn, kurta-inundated high street.

“I can’t teach designers who are now dinosaurs in the field on how to put together a good collection,” PFDC Chairperson Sehyr Saigol said when asked why certain collections by well-known designers had not gotten edited out.

The luxury-wear shows at PSFW didn’t disappoint either, especially in the case of younger brands. Surprisingly, the more veteran labels depicted a certain lack of creativity presenting design that didn’t impress.

“I can’t teach designers who are now dinosaurs in the field on how to put together a good collection,” PFDC Chairperson Sehyr Saigol said, when asked why certain collections by well-known designers had not gotten edited out. “I do keep an eye on the younger labels because they often need the guidance. Also, whenever a designer asks me for input I am available to help them out. But a lot of senior designers don’t come to my for advice and I expect them to have an understanding of what qualifies as fashion.”

This PSFW, then, was all about going out with the old, in with the new. The energy, vivacity and effort of the young was what rocked fashion week this year. And how it rocked!

Here’s our pick of the top collections:

1) Khaadi Khaas

Khaadi Khaas twirled and whirled to a tune that is completely its own – proudly Pakistani, vivacious, standout.

Khaadi went all out this year
Khaadi went all out this year

One after the other, designs in the Nomad line trooped onto the catwalk, blending together earthy hues with detailed Central Asian embroideries, zig-zags and tribal prints. In characteristic Khaadi style, the silhouettes remained wearable; long coats, drop-waist shirts, flared tunics cinched at the waistline, embroidered belts, waistcoats and structured short tunics.

Khaadi really stepped up their desi swag game
Khaadi really stepped up their desi swag game

Complementing the looks was funky tribal jewelry that is going to be available at Khaadi stores. The Khaas collection will also be trickled down to retail which is great – for every outfit was an extraordinary must-have.

2) Sapphire

A menagerie of wild animals stalked down Sapphire’s landscape; tigers roared, cranes spun down the length of shirts, eagles stood mid-air with extended wings.

Khadija Shah, the brains behind the mammoth brand
Khadija Shah, the brains behind the mammoth brand

‘Totem’ was the brand’s sojourn into luxury-pret and it was modern, fashion-forward and very well-constructed. Exaggerated sleeves, oversized jackets cinched at the waist and on-trend flared pants dominated. One even enjoyed the accessories; long swaying earrings and Peshawari slip-ons created in-house.

From ramp to reality: the collection will be available at Sapphire stores as is
From ramp to reality: the collection will be available at Sapphire stores as is

What’s even better is that the collection will be available for retail very soon and according to Creative Director Khadijah Shah it will be available as is, without being converted to mundane tunics. We’ll certainly be buying!

3) Generation

‘Bring Basant Back’, declared Generation, shouting it out from rooftops, dancing to its tune and soaring high much like the kites the brand was supporting.

Artistry was woven onto garment with patchwork, pleats and layering worked onto a series of silhouettes that were often very androgynous. There were variations of the traditional Chapkan, angarkhas turned into jackets, kurtas cut into Balochi silhouettes and single-thread embroidered necklines emulating Persian scenes. There was also a lot of diversity in the lowers.

Give it up for Generation for sending out a message
Give it up for Generation for sending out a message

Rabia Butt, who initiated the show, wore a very funky three-tiered culotte. The collection progressed to pants cuffed at the ankle, chooridars, shalwars smocked at the front and sheer organza pants criss-crossed to resemble kites. The large kite-shaped earrings worn by the models were delightful and one loved the pro-Basant slogans declared on kites binded to the models’ backs.

Generation gets major brownie points for experimenting
Generation gets major brownie points for experimenting

It was very high-street, very Generation and testament to how the brand has grown over the past few years, endeavoring to push the sartorial envelope while simultaneously working on retail.

4) Misha Lakhani

Misha Lakhani returned to the catwalk after some time with the characteristically sophisticated ‘Caravan’.

The designer came back to the ramp after a mini hiatus with a bang
The designer came back to the ramp after a mini hiatus with a bang

Using hand-woven fabric, Misha yo-yoed from the modern to the traditional; carefree kimono-style kaftans mixed in with baggy tunics and off-shoulder capes. One appreciated the collection for the supreme confidence it exuded.

Misha Lakhani stayed true to her aesthetic
Misha Lakhani stayed true to her aesthetic

Misha Lakhani seems to have found her niche, established her market and is now happily building upon it with signature understated elegance.

5) Sania Maskatiya

With ‘Studio’, Sania Maskatiya delved into a more Westernized line than usual. Knowing Sania, though, one was quite sure that even her most anglicized cuts would easily be applicable to the diverse clientele that throngs her stores. After all, you can always count on Sania to think retail.

Sania Maskatiya played with digital prints in a fresh, new way for her brand
Sania Maskatiya played with digital prints in a fresh, new way for her brand

What was particularly appreciable about the collection was the evolution one observed in Sania’s work. The designer’s aesthetics have matured over the years, allowing her to move into different genres with apparent ease.

Sania's evolution as a designer is crystal clear from her work
Sania’s evolution as a designer is crystal clear from her work

Embroideries were kept to a minimal, barely visible in the texture of a fabric or a subtle appliqué. Instead, the focus was on digital prints created with a paint effect and chic silhouettes. There were boat-necks, draw-stringed pants, collared waistcoats, wraps, long shirts belted at the waist and capes, with multi-colored filigree winding down the length of the fabric.

A cohesive, well-conceived collection; this one had the makings of a complete hit.

6) Adnan Pardesy

It was a pleasure to see Adnan Pardesy return to the limelight after a far too long respite. The designer has always had a penchant for craftsmanship and he didn’t disappoint.

Adnan Pardesy's craftsmenship impressed, like always
Adnan Pardesy’s craftsmenship impressed, like always

One had to see the collection the appreciate the sheer detailing: single tone miniscule embroideries, textured fabric, cutwork and geometry was worked onto neat silhouettes. Statement earrings by Kiran Fine Jewelry complemented the collection.

He's baaack!
He’s baaack!

One wishes, though, that Adnan had worked a bit more on catwalk drama. One knows that as a fashion purist, he prefers to let the design do the talking but his collection would have had stood out even more with funky styling or slightly more theatric makeup.

7) Republic By Omar Farooq

It isn’t easy to create menswear for a diaspora that has always had a taste for staid, austere lines. Republic by Omar Farooq, then, was like a breath of fresh air, refraining from going over the top with bling or embroidery (as many rather fashionably-challenged ‘designers’ have done in recent memory) and instead, taking inspiration from the diversity of Japan.

Republic by Omar Farooq's Japanese inspired collection was a welcome change from overly blinged out menswear
Republic by Omar Farooq’s Japanese inspired collection was a welcome change from overly blinged out menswear

The narrative moved from the hard Japanese day-worker who works his way from rags and riches to the affluent next generation accentuated by the pops of neon that are an intrinsic part of Japanese night-life.

There were jackets with frayed thread details, shirts splattered with multi-colours, transparent plasticky lab-coats, geometric print, quirky pockets, comfy track-pants and plenty of layers. Inscribed here and there was Japanese text, translated to ‘work hard’, ‘strive’ and ‘power’. Also printed onto the clothes were Polaroid shots of Japanese workers.

The ace designer himself
The ace designer himself

Littered with details, it was a collection that stood out. One hopes that it brings some life to the realm of menswear which tends to be crowded by uninspiring sherwanis or generic suits, never really trying too hard to make a fashion statement.

8) Ali Xeeshan

And for the finale, there was Ali Xeeshan, who stalked onto the red carpet holding a golden trophy and an exuberant grin to match. Some of the models also came holding similar trophies – you can always count on Ali to put up a show.

Ali Xeeshan, true to his signature, put together a flamboyant showcase
Ali Xeeshan, true to his signature, put together a flamboyant showcase

This was supposedly the designer’s autobiographical illustration of how one could rise against the odds to achieve victory and while the clothes really didn’t seem to narrate much, they were still quite spectacular. Cotton chikans, prints and block-prints in Ajrak hues mixed and matched, worked with three-dimensional embellishments.

The palette was very bright, there was mirror-work, thread embroideries and some embellishments resembled child-like watercolour paintings – delicacy isn’t Ali’s forte, but he makes up for it with flamboyance.

Ali's collection was loud and proud
Ali’s collection was loud and proud

Marring the collection somewhat was the inclusion of some outfits that looked far too much like wedding-wear & didn’t fit in well with the cotton-based line. Apparently, this was Ali’s way of incorporating formals into the collection but it didn’t really make sense.