The call of couture

May 16 2010


Photo: Faisal Farooqi @ Dragonfly

The kaleidoscopic explosion of fashion in recent times is strongly indicative of changing lifestyles. Take one step into a public place and you're surrounded by women sporting almost the same hairstyle and wearing clothes in the same fashion.

A week after Ensemble and L'Oreal hosted their fashion installation a much-awaited fashion event took place. Carnivale de Couture is an event that has only taken place three times. It includes the participation of two Indian designers along with one Pakistani designer to raise money for the Teachers Resource Centre and its cause. The highly-glamourised event has also in the past seen the likes of Urmila Matondkar, Shilpa Shetty and John Abraham in attendance.

This year the Carnivale took place from where it started — Lahore — after 10 years. The event featured Indian designers Tarun Tahiliani (who's shown numerous times before) and Malini Ramani. The Pakistani representation was by Umar Sayeed. Three Indian models were flown in for the event the stunning, dark-skinned and bald Diandra Soares, the 6-foot tall Joey Mathews and the Dutch-Indian model Tamara Moss. They weren't the only foreign models participating; three models from Dubai were also flown in — Jessica, Russian-born Masha and Nairobi-national Ayaan.

Choreographer and backstage manager Lubna Adams was flown in from India. A model-turned-fashion choreographer, event director and producer, she has to her credit events such as India Couture Week 2008, India Fashion Weeks, IIFA Dubai 2006, IIFA Bangkok 2008 and Miss World Fashion Show Seychelles 1996 and 1997 among others.

The hair and make-up for the models was by Tariq Amin, the music and choreography of the show by Hasan Sheheryar Yasin and the overall event management by J&S3.

Other than the designers, most of the Indian participants might not be big in Bollywood, but are considered rock stars in the Indian fashion industry. Another interesting point was that both Indian designers, Tarun and Malini, trace their roots from Pakistan. Tarun's family is from Sindh and both of Malini's parents originally hail from Karachi.

The Carnivale took place an hour's drive away from central Lahore, in the newly-constructed area of Bahria Town. This was probably a security measure taken by the organisers but the remote location and the fact that by 11.00pm (the event was supposed to start by 10.30pm) Umar Sayeed (the designer opening the show) was still at his hotel room waiting for a car to the location added to the delay. The event started around midnight and ended close to 3am!

The ramp had been set in a series of parallel stairs towards the beginning that led to a cross-shaped ramp — a straight section moving forward and a horizontal section crossing it from the centre. The stairs gave the whole set up a very Valentino-esque feel and was used by the choreographer to set the models in different poses to create a larger-than-life effect.

Umar Sayeed's collection was inspired by Quratulain Hyder's novel, Gardish-e-Rang-e-Chaman. Film actor Shaan opened his show in a white embroidered sherwani. The designer showed a white segment, a charcoal green and pink segment with Kashmiri embroidery and design among other things. In one section he also did away with volume and showed very sleek silhouettes — a welcome change from the volume that's in vogue at the moment. Some of his models sported large, silver crowns. His collection carried his signature eastern-wear touch with intricate embroidery and was touted as the best shown that night.

Malini Ramani's collection was as colourful as her personality. It was based on the concept of travelling the world looking for love and each segment was preceded by a voice-over announcing where the protagonist (Rita) of her fashion story was going, the weather in that region and what the local 'cocktail' (style) was like. Her collection paid homage to the South of France, Mexico, somewhere near Pushkar (India), Africa and Mumbai. It was a series of colourful, unembroidered dresses, short tube-tops, kaftan tops, pants and skirts often bordered with a dyed circular design. One segment of her collection also showed dyed snake skin-printed ensembles.

Tarun Tahilinai's collection was an extravaganza of bridal and formal wear and consisted of full embroidered ensembles which included the traditional shalwar kameez and the sari — Vaneeza wore a red and gold sari that had been worn by Shilpa Shetty on her wedding day. It was when the designer introduced a segment which contained his draped ensembles was when he really began to make a statement. In pale beige and gold, this segment had some very interesting pieces including a fusion between a sari and a dress with the pleats of the pallu coming from backwards moving on to the front.

The designers showed very wearable, commercial collections that night. Other than the intricacy of the embroidery in Umar Sayeed's collection and the beautiful draping in one part of Tarun Tahiliani's collection, there wasn't much in the fashion segment to inspire. There were no statements made and after going through the enormous fashion drill of back-to-back events earlier this year, the average viewer has grown immune to what one might call 'regular' fashion.

Where the event management was concerned it was disappointing to note several glaring loopholes. When, at close to 3am, dinner was announced, guests entered the dinner area to empty food trays.

When one went backstage, one found other event organisers such as Qasim Yar Tiwana along with Zeba Hussain and her daughter Shezray Hussain working hand-in-hand with the designers' teams in packing up the collections with no volunteers in sight. It was very surprising considering that the same event management team had pulled off stellar events such as The Musik Awards in June 2008.