PFDC fashion week: Are we overdoing the red carpet trend of dressing muses?

Published April 17, 2015
Sana Safinaz is always a popular choice on the red carpet by the movers and shakers of the fashion industry.
Sana Safinaz is always a popular choice on the red carpet by the movers and shakers of the fashion industry.

Too much of something is never good and this applies to the fashion we see on the red carpet too.

Unfortunately, at recent fashion weeks and award shows some designers have overdone their red carpet presence.

It's not that we don't love glamorous red carpet statements — avant-garde designer gowns and glistening jewels … but what if too many people are wearing similar designer-wear by the same designer?

Everybody begins looking the same and the red carpet slips and slides down into the mundane. It’s a red-carpet affair, after all — not a school assembly — and a dozen women dressed in similar colours or silhouettes, no matter how beautiful, will never make an impression. Designers need to understand this.

At TFPW the red carpet sorely lacked variety

At the recent Telenor Fashion Pakistan Week (TFPW), for instance, there was a pleasant smattering of hot-off-the-ramp Nida Azwer, Sania Maskatiya, Sonya Battla and Shamaeel Ansari creations but everything fairly receded into the background by the onslaught of Sana Safinaz couture.

"The ramp is our runway,” Sana Safinaz had declared since they weren’t showcasing at TFPW. But it isn’t a very interesting runway when so many women, on all four days, turn up wearing similar hues, accessorised by the same Outhouse jewelry.

Ladies walked the red carpet wearing Sana Safinaz coupled with Outhouse jewellery.
Ladies walked the red carpet wearing Sana Safinaz coupled with Outhouse jewellery.

The brand’s red carpet ‘muses’ — not celebrities but a bevy of savvy journalists and bloggers — wore designs from Ather Hafeez’s psychedelic boho line and Mohsin Ali’s jungle-themed luxury wear. Both were hit collections showcased at fashion week last year and they were translated into exceptionally well-tailored, head-turning designs for the red carpet… but there were too many of them. A brand as coveted and brilliant as Sana Safinaz can rule the roost simply by dressing an exclusive three to four stars for the red carpet.

Sana Safinaz couldn't be missed on the red carpet.
Sana Safinaz couldn't be missed on the red carpet.

Why wasn’t anybody wearing Fahad Hussayn’s elaborate creations? Where were the coquettish Deepak Perwani numbers, the understated, elegant Maheen Khan creations, the cutting-edge Body Focus Museum designs and Ali Xeeshan’s colourful concoctions?

From L-R: A Balmain like Fahad Hussayn creation and a piece from the new Body Focus line.
From L-R: A Balmain like Fahad Hussayn creation and a piece from the new Body Focus line.

These designers may not condone the ‘borrowing’ of their clothes for mainstream affairs but they could have made the effort to at least dress a celebrity or two. It would have certainly gotten the cameras whirring and made headlines.

At the Oscars it’s such fun to absorb couture by Gucci, Versace, Armani, Tom Ford and every high-profile label under the sun, gliding seamlessly across the same red carpet. In retrospect, at a local event, an outsider observing the red carpet may just assume that there are only a handful of couturiers in Pakistan. They are the only ones that are visible while the rest of the milieu is often oddly out of the picture.

Achieving a balance between positive promotion and overexposure is possible

Designer Shehla Chatoor made a similar mistake at the Lux Style Awards (LSAs) in 2013 when she dressed far too many women in her signature slinky gowns. “All these people actually come to me, asking me to dress them,” Shehla has been known to protest. Yet, over time, the designer’s learned to be more picky in her red carpet outings. At TFPW, the few women wearing Shehla’s designs and her signature jewelry stood out.

And last week, at the HUM TV awards, Shehla dressed four stars — female actors Ayesha Omar, Sanam Saeed and Ayesha Khan as well as host Anoushay Ashraf — and once again ran the risk of being all too prevalent.

But this risk paid off.

From L-R: The ladies sizzle on the red carpet in Chatoor ensembles.
From L-R: The ladies sizzle on the red carpet in Chatoor ensembles.

What ended up making this work was that the women wore clothes from the new Eastern ‘Shehla’ fusion line that hadn't been seen before. The workmanship immediately caught the eye and brought in accolades because the designs were fresh.

Other designers that stood out at the awards included Nomi Ansari, who dressed Syra Shahroze and Sanam Jung, Elan worn by Sabeeka Imam in Elan, Mawra Hocane in Ali Xeeshan and Mansha Pasha and Hareem Farooq rocking monochromatic Adnan Pardesy … a funky, cutting-edge mix of some of the country’s brightest couturiers.

Sabeeka Iman looked ethereal at the Hum TV Awards this year in Dubai, styled by Ehtesham Mansari.
Sabeeka Iman looked ethereal at the Hum TV Awards this year in Dubai, styled by Ehtesham Mansari.

The designer-wear at last year’s understated LSA ceremony was similarly interesting. There was Sanam Saeed in Misha Lakhani, Cybil glittering in HSY, Aamina Sheikh dressed in Shehla Chatoor’s ‘Misaki’ and Amna Babar, pulling off a figure-hugging Sana Safinaz number.

The versatile Aamina Sheikh was also spotted clad in Shehla Chatoor at the LSAs in 2014. — Photo by Mahjabeen Mankani
The versatile Aamina Sheikh was also spotted clad in Shehla Chatoor at the LSAs in 2014. — Photo by Mahjabeen Mankani

The verdict?

Certain designers will always be red carpet favourites and we actually look forward to the high-end statements spun for the red carpet by brands like Sana Safinaz, Elan and Shehla Chatoor. But dressing all and sundry brings down brand value. That’s a point to ponder over, designers, as you begin planning out your red carpet rampages for the upcoming PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week.

Maliha Rehman is a fashion and lifestyle journalist with a penchant for writing, all the time! Log on to Twitter for more updates @maliharehman

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