Lawn season (read: madness) is upon us again. Salima Feerasta goes behind the scenes with Pakistanâ€™s top designers to see what went down at the shoots, and what buyers can expect this year from the exciting collections.
The Queens of Pakistani Fashion, as theyâ€™ve come to be called, as expected, have something fresh in store for buyers! â€œWe always try to give our clients something new. Itâ€™s always been about upping the game. This year weâ€™ve introduced a lot of chikkankari and beaded necklines, which no-one has done before. Weâ€™ve also worked with different fabric textures,â€ Safinaz Muneer says. The duo have traditionally used Neha for their shoots, but went with Amna Baber this year. â€œWe felt it was time for a change. Weâ€™ve worked with Amna before and we love how she wears our clothes, so it was a natural choice to pick her,â€ Sana Hashwani tells me. Any mid-shoot disasters? â€œWell, everything went wrong from the minute we touched down in Bangkok!â€ laughs Safinaz. â€œWe shot the campaign in a rain forest and it was absolutely freezing â€“ poor Amna had to walk around barefoot and in spaghetti-strap kameezes! The Opposition was holding a sit-in in Bangkok during the time as well, so the whole city was shut down!â€ As always, the team managed to overcome the obstacles and weâ€™re looking forward to another stellar campaign and collection.
The Karachi-based dynamic duo have a fantastic collection in store this year! â€œWeâ€™ve got ten prints based on the whimsy of timeless summer romance,â€ they excitedly tell me. Expect apalette of breezy pastels and flirty floral shades including hues of aquas, blues and minty greens, with select pieces in vibrant violets and rose pinks. Ayesha-Somaya chose leading television personality Momal Sheikh as their lawn brand ambassador for the second year running. The shoot had its moments, the duo tells me, â€œwhen Momal’s eyes were watering too much we took her coloured lenses off and, since we were too lazy to walk back to the room, we put them in a glass and sat for lunch. Salman, Akif’s assistant, accidentally drank one of the grey lenses! So now we had just one grey contact lens. Since we couldn’t use it, we made him drink the other one too so that both his eyes would turn grey and not just one!â€
Lahore-based designer Khadijah Shah and Hussain Mills Ltd. have collaborated for the second time and weâ€™re super excited for the collection to hit the stores. â€œMy experience with Hussain Mills has been stellar so far,â€ Khadijah says. â€œWe have a very professional relationship and respect each other’s domain and opinions. Hussain gives me free reign as a designer and that is very important to me in any collaboration Elan is involved in. He respects my aesthetic and loves what I make. I, in return, give them independence in how they wish to produce and sell the product. Itâ€™s really been a case of divide and conquer and I am very grateful for that.â€ This year, the duo chose actress and TV host Mahira Khan (last year they went with NargisFakhri) as their brand ambassador. â€œI’ve always thought Mahira is fabulous and I’ve been working with her over the past year on a couple of projects. She embodies the Elan spirit and has always been eager to wear our label. She wasn’t very comfortable doing still shoots and told me if she were ever to do lawn, she would do it with Elan. We had some trouble with billboard advertising with an Indian model last year, so we thought we’d go the other route this time. Mahira was our absolute first choice – for both Hussain Textiles and Elan.â€ So off they went for what can only be described as a whirlwind shoot to Krabi in Thailand. â€œThere are lots of funny stories from Thailand. We were quite a diverse group (Nida Khan from Tariq Amin, makeup artist Adnan, Mahirah Khan, Khadijah Shah herself, Moin Khan of A Different Agenda, Project Manager AamerEhsaan, Guddu and Shani, and Elanâ€™sArtDirector AbdullahKhan) so it was craziness all around. Everyone was a character in their own right. From forgetting people behind at the beach going back home, to photo bombing pictures of random tourists to nonsensical fights over who would fly the dupatta â€“ every minute was a riot! The funniest was when we were walking around one night and saw a vendor selling wrist-bands with obscene messages. We made a game where each had to give another person one of these bracelets and scream out the message we received at the top of our lungs in the middle of the street. People thought we were nuts!â€
FarazMananâ€™s vibrant 2014 lawn collection (which graced the Sunday magazine cover last week) features none other than the drop dead gorgeous Bebo â€“ KareenaKapoor Khan â€“ as itâ€™s brand ambassador. Faraz says, â€œKareena defines beauty, lineage power and universal appeal – much like the women who will adorn these gorgeous designs this Spring. Picking her was a no-brainer. We had a ton of fun shooting the campaign and bonded over our love for food,â€ he laughs.
Shamaeelâ€™sTughrapret line aims to offer a more affordable version of Shamaeel without diluting the brand design sensibility. This is the first cotton/lawn collection under the Tughra label and Shamaeel describes it as â€œcotton for queens.â€ The line reflects royal antique Ottoman prints and the fabric is treated with special enzymes to give the effect of vintage fabric. The design process was an interesting one.â€œWhen the Shamaeel design team was coming up with a concept and mood board for the line we realized that itâ€™s almost impossible to tell many lawn brands apart. They are all doing the same thing, coordinating panels, colourful embroidery and mix and match prints. We knew we wanted to take a completely different route,â€ the veteran designer says. Her lawn line is primarily eveningwear and generally features only one print per outfit, along with subtle embroidery. â€œItâ€™s a pret line so we chose to concentrate on silhouette, texture and a vintage feel,â€ she says.
Mahnoushâ€™s 2014 collection celebrates their fifth anniversary in the lawn world. Expect lots of architectural design elements, such as arches, fountains, fruit and unusual trees. Other motifs characteristic of the Mahnoush design repertoire, now rendered in a fresh format, also continue, such as the jewel, the bird and the Chinese motif. Creative Head, Arjumand Amin, has chosen five fabulous and formidable Pakistani women to be the face of the collection this year. â€œEach of these women are symbolic of what Mahnoush has represented over the course of its journey: quality, distinctiveness and beauty,â€ she says.
Coveted lifestyle and textile brand So Kamal has paired up with designer Zara Shahjahan for the second year running for their lawn collection. â€œThis year, itâ€™s been all about the Bohemian aesthetic for me. I tried to work outside my comfort zone with the line and used bright colors and Aztec patterns. There are also a lot of Indian motifs,â€ Zara says. â€œThe Aztec print outfit is the outfit I am most excited about. My second favourite is all-white outfit with an ikkatdupatta and floral finishing.â€ Erum Ahmed, the CEO of So Kamal, is most excited about a piece called Sunkist Pink. â€œZara is a brilliant designer with great aesthetic sense. The product is going to be very dynamic,â€ she tells me. The duo decided to pick Neha to represent the collection. â€œNo-one photographs better than Neha. She looked beautiful in the pictures. We decided we preferred to have a model rather than a celebrity this time around. She was our first choice and has done justice to our clothes,â€ Zara says.
This year, Khaadi has come out with a seven-part lawn collection with something for everyone. Fom an Indian-inspired line to plain prints to heavily embellished and embroidered outfits to geometric prints to Vietnamese-inspired prints, they covered it all, and then some! Head of Creative Services Muhammad Imran Khan says, â€œSimply put, this collection will make you happy. Itâ€™s vibrant, bold and colourful with interesting motifs. Iâ€™m personally most excited about the Indian line.â€ After three years of working with Cybil Chowdhry, the brand decided to switch things up and usedRabia Butt as their model. â€œSheâ€™s beautiful and very feminine and we felt it was time for a change,â€ Khan says. â€œWe are very happy with the campaign, despite the many hiccups along the way! Letâ€™s just say, Lahoreâ€™s weather was not kind to us. We shot in the bitter cold and fog in Jinnah Gardens and Shalimar Gardens, sometimes at 2 AM, so there was much trauma when Rabia fell sick in the middle of it all. All’s well that ends well”
Gul Ahmedâ€™s line is a melting pot this year, incorporating hundreds of ethnic prints from different culture around the world. The digital prints have been given a makeover and are presented with a more luxurious look while their rich chiffon and embroidery ranges explore different colour palettes. Since Gul Ahmed produces such a huge variety of designs, each different collection is under a different in-house designer. Every collection is shot individually with its own location and models. No other design house produces such a huge array of designs or attempts to offer so many different fabrics including chiffon, jacquard and premium lawn. With models from India, Pakistan and Thailand, Gul Ahmedâ€™s shoots are as varied as their designs. Their catalogue invariably ends up with most good darzis, a resource for customers wanting tailoring inspiration.
Veteran designer Maria B, who has designed her lawn line herself, is introducing Arabi lawn prints in Pakistan, along with Egyptian Giza lawn, pure Chinese chiffon and pure China silk dupattas in 14 diverse designs, available in two colours. â€œMy line is inspired by Spring and sunshine, by Bohemia, French roses, Ottoman rugs, Moroccan tiles, vibrant Cholistan, ikkat and phulkari. Each design has a unique flavor,â€ Maria says.
This year, Kayseriaâ€™s collection has three themes; â€˜A Color Riotâ€™ inspired by Basant, â€˜Victorian Romanceâ€™ inspired by the Victorian Era, and â€˜Letters of Loveâ€™ inspired by stamps. The dynamic and unique line features an unprecedented 65 distinct designs, catering to the diverse fashion needs of even the most discerning consumer.
“This year, I’ve consciously tried to give my buyers something different. Starting with our model, Sabeeka, an undiscovered face in Pakistan. She has a great height and physique. We didn’t want to cake her up with lots of makeup. It’s lawn. We wanted something very natural. As for the lawn, it features all kinds of colours and patterns, from floral prints to contemporary, traditional and Islamic motifs,” Sobia says. Their shoot, although gorgeous, had a funny story behind it. “We shot at the Governor House in Lahore,” Sobia says. “The room they gave us to change in had a few lizards under the chandelier and behind the paintings. The blue tile work in that room was amazing so we thought we could take our first shot in there. As soon as the model stood up to pose, a lizard fell off the chandelier and on to her head!” The collection features fifteen diverse designs, Sobia’s personal favourites being “Blossom” and “Taj”.
The writer is a freelance journalist. She blogs at www.karachista.com and tweets at @karachista.