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Fashion week: Selling the shaadi, in style

December 08, 2013

The Big Fat Desi Wedding has been a sub-continental fixture for centuries. Song, dance, glittering jewellery, worked joras and an extensive menu add up to make it not just a feast for the eyes, but for all of the senses.

No surprise then, that the wedding industry is now absolutely huge in Pakistan. In this ‘my wedding is bigger than yours’ race, skilled kaarigars are worth their weight in gold, trousseau and jewellery designers and craftsmen are much sought after, and event managers run around frantically, making sure the entire extravaganza goes off smoothly.

Weddings and everything else closely associated with weddings have become a multi-million rupees service industry where careers are made and unmade in a matter of moments. With the somewhat recent phenomena of fashion weeks taking root in Pakistan, how could bridals then lag behind?

The concept caught on, leading to the birth of what has become one of the strongest platforms for bridal couture designers, the Pantene Bridal Couture Week which, in its fourth year, put forth its seventh consecutive outing at Lahore’s Faletti’s Hotel last week.

The edge in bridal weeks During a chat with Sultana Siddiqui, president of Hum Network Ltd and the brains behind PBCW, she said, “We give value for money and trousseau designers keep returning along with new ones, which makes it very difficult for us to fit them into the available slots. We had to let go of quite a few because there were already too many segments crammed into each day of this year’s three-day event. Then there is the air time that they get which cannot be matched anywhere else. The designers who show, know that they will get maximum exposure and also reach out to a much larger audience, hence the mad rush.”

But it’s not just about displaying bridal wares, of course.

“We design the event keeping in mind the entertainment factor. The fact is that local audiences prefer to be entertained rather that see pure fashion on the ramp. We have put various acts on the PBCW stage over the years symbolising events associated with a typical South Asian wedding such as mehndi, mayoon, nikah, rukhsati, etc, by dance performances and enactments, imported a special juggling act from Egypt and even promoted local talent this time in the form of the Disaster dance troupe with their LED lights special effects performance to bhangra beats.” This, too, is a Pakistani innovation.

“By contrast, when it comes to fashion weeks abroad, audiences want to see pure fashion and nothing else,” she says.

Naturally, where there is an audience, sponsors are bound to follow.

Omeir Dawoodji, Senior Communications Manager for P&G Pakistan — the main sponsors of the bi-annual event — says the sole thing that keeps them hooked, besides the air time and the repeated coverage Bridal Couture Week gets which translates into heightened brand sales and identity, is the chance to build meaningful connections with women across Pakistan.

The business of fashion

The choreography by Hasan Shehryar Yasin, event management, show design and production by the Hum TV team, hair and make-up by Saba Ansari and her team at Sabs Salon and backstage management by Production 021 managed to pull together a show much like the olden days when princely suitors would call on fair maidens and vie for princesses’ hands in marriage by way of a Swayamvara (a Sanskrit word which means the practice in ancient India of choosing a husband, from among a list of suitors, by a girl of a marriageable age).

Much akin to the auspicious time and venue being announced by the king of the land and the girl’s father, the date was set for Nov29-Dec01 and the suitors being a sum total of 24 designers vying for a chance to win hearts with sheer innovation and creativity.

Yes, PBCW had its moments too with:

• Fahad Hussayn wowing fashionistas with Bloodline, inspired by Rajasthani culture and heritage.

• Hajra Hayat’s Shah Jehan collection witnessing Fariha Pervaiz performing to Jana Jogi De Naal.

• Deepak Perwani’s Diet Pepsi-sponsored skirt and tribute to Reshma featuring Maheen Khan as showstopper.

• Stylist Saba Ansari walking for designer duo Ayesha & Somaya.

• The special bridal hair and make-up shows courtesy Depilex (Day 1), Maram Aabroo (Day 2) featuring vocalist Kiran Chaudhry and Nina Lotia (Day 3).

• Shazia Bridal Gallery featuring show opener Sahiba being carried in on a palki and featuring Nida Yasir as showstopper.

• Star-spotting in Zainab Chottani’s Raag-o-Rang featuring TV stars Myra Khan, Sherry, Marwa and Urwa, and supermodel Iraj’s fabulous performance to Jiya Jale Jaan Jale.

• Supermodel Iman Ali, actors Hamza Ali Abbassi and Sidra Batool as showstoppers in Erum Khan’s segment.

• Bina Sultan showing off friends Tariq and Faiza Amin on the ramp.

• Uzair Jaswal’s live performance in Humayun Alamgir’s Suhaag segment featuring menswear sherwanis with singer Noman Javed and cricketer Shoaib Malik as showstoppers.

• Classical singer Nayab Ali Khan and Raga Boys performing live in Maria B’s ramp show.

• Singer Junaid Khan in Teena by Hina Butt with showstopper Sarwat Gillani. • Juggan Kazim walking for Ali Xeeshan’s Panchayat.

• Kuki Concepts opening his show with the ritualistic one-day Hindu festival of karwa chauth.

• Umsha by Uzma Babar with showstoppers Ahmed Ali Butt and wife, and a performance by Shiraz Uppal.

• Designer Mehdi’s Freedom of a Woman with showstopper Iman Ali.

• Tahira Syed’s live performance to Jhanjhar Baj Diyaan, Woh Baatein Teri Woh Fasanay Tere, Yah Alam Shauq Ka and Yeh Mehfil Jo Aaj Sajji Hai (which she dedicated to the designer) in HSY’s grand finale.