Pakistani fashion may still subject us to far too many fashion weeks a year but the events have certainly gotten more streamlined. There have been conscious - though not often successful - efforts to start and end the events on time and councils endeavour to stick to the calendar that they announce several months before their seasonal events. FPC didn't manage to do so this time around.
Merely a few days ago, updates were mailed out by FPW's digital team, urging print and electronic media to 'mark calendars' for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of February for the 'biggest Fashion Pakistan Week yet'.
Media may now readjust their calendars and aim for the 22nd and 23rd of February.
Quality over quantity?
Why did the council have this change of heart just 12 days before FPW? Budgetary cuts? Lack of organisation? According to the FPC, it's neither of the two.
"We didn't want to create a mish-mash by just taking anyone and everyone on board. We'd rather focus on quality content," explains FPC CEO Nida Azwer. "We have some very good designers as part of the FPW lineup while we've opted to let the newer ones take part in our Millennial show, which is tentatively scheduled for August this year."
"It is our plan to offer deserving young labels free slots. An external jury will be enlisted to watch the show and shortlist designers who will then be afforded scholarships by the council," she continues. "Perhaps, then, some of them can fine-tune their work and show at the next FPW."
It all sounds very altruistic and certainly, the future of Pakistani fashion can only be paved by guiding and supporting new talent. One is also aware that FPW has hitherto acted as a springboard for myriad fledgling labels, like Feeha Jamshed, Zaheer Abbas, Adnan Pardesy and Nida Azwer.
Still, couldn't the FPC have decided upon dates earlier? A last-minute change hints at disorganisation within the council and one remembers, all too clearly, the last time FPW got reduced to two days, back in 2013. 25 designers were implausibly squeezed into two days, leading to an endless exhausting monologue and utter fashion ennui.
Fortunately, it is expected that the fashion week schedule will not be quite as grueling this time. Touted as highlights for the show is a Fashion DNA segment as well as a show dedicated to sustainable craft. There is also going to be a combined showcase by some of the country's most illustrious designers, honouring the council's decade-long run in the business. Leading designers like Bunto Kazmi, Shehla Chatoor, Umar Sayeed, Sana Safinaz and Shamaeel Ansari have been enlisted to showcase capsule lines.
In addition, designers Deepak Perwani, Maheen Khan, Amir Adnan, Tena Durrani, Arsalan Iqbal, Nauman Arfeen and Nida Azwer, among others, will be featured in individual shows.
What's unique this year?
The Fashion DNA segment is a venture by the British Council which is now in its second year. Promising ateliers are handpicked by the British Council, trained and mentored extensively and then given the chance to showcase in London at the Fashion Scouts segment of London Fashion Week. On returning to Pakistan, this year's Fashion DNA entourage - The Pink Tree Company, Gulabo, Sonya Battla, Munib Nawaz, Jeem by Hamza Bokhari and Zuria Dor - will proceed to showcase their collections on local grounds at FPW.
The designer lineup for the sustainable craft segment, meanwhile, is quite small. Apparently, Yousuf Bashir Qureshi was originally supposed to be part of the segment. The designer ended up backing out when due to some hitches, he was unable to procure the fabric required for his collection. Similarly, Noorjehan Bilgrami of Koel would have been a feather in FPW's cap. The designer, however, had travel plans and was unable to participate.
"I think a show dedicated to sustainable craft is a very good idea and I do hope to be a part of it next time," says Noorjehan. "Unfortunately, Nida came up with the concept very late. By then, I had made other plans and besides, I didn't have a collection ready. As a designer who rarely takes part in a show, I need to put my best foot forward whenever I put my designs in the spotlight. I can't take something off my clothing racks and rustle something together."
One collection that may just highlight sustainable craft in the best possible light could be by Inaaya. The ethically responsible brand with its painstaking handcraft and multi-tiered statement jewelry has been away from the limelight for far too long and it will be interesting to see what
it puts forward on the catwalk.
"It's very important to highlight sustainable craft. Indigenous handwork is trending around the world but aside from being very marketable, we also need to nurture it so that it does not die out altogether," points out Nida, who will also be featured in the segment. "Unfortunately, a lot of people still don't understand what a segment like this entails which is why right now, it's going to form a very small part of FPW."
There's no denying that a shorter fashion week which is high on fashion content is a far better option than a long one with abysmal fashion. One hopes, then, that the shorter FPW manages to make some strong fashion statements. Capsule collections by illustrious ateliers may be pleasing but standout individual lines are particularly what ones looks forward to at a fashion week. It would have certainly been more interesting had FPW featured more of the latter.
Nevertheless, ones hopes that the fashion week delivers. The FPC is celebrating a decade now and it has been instrumental in building the business of fashion in the country. It is a serious business now. 10 years down the line, one expects the FPC to be truly serious about it.