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NEWS ALERT: Ensemble Lahore will be moving into 10Q, a space formerly occupied by the PFDC Boulevard.

Mahin Hussain

Shehrnaz Husain

Multi-retail stores offering desirable fashion labels are popping up every week, in almost every nook and commercial cranny of Pakistan’s big cities. There are countless in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and even Faisalabad though I wouldn’t label all of them with a  ‘desirable’ stamp of approval. It can still be safely said that Labels, The Designers and Ensemble are three of the biggest names in one-stop fashion stores, followed very closely by Melange in Islamabad. In fact Melange would pose very sound competition to the others if it were anywhere other than in Islamabad.

The thing is that all multi-retail stores are competing not only for sales but also for publicity. Zahir Rahimtoola flew the media out to Dubai last year, a good way to ensure Labels’ handshake with Studio 8 was documented effectively. Asad Tareen had a small runway built into the premises of his store and he (until recently) used to launch new collections with small fashion shows. His shows have turned into exhibitions these days, at one of which several highly trendy labels – like Adnan Pardesy, Wardha Saleem, Akif and Mohsin – were launched last month.

And Zeba Husain, well Zeba plays a completely different ball game altogether because she is and always will be known as the hostess with the mostest. With Zeba and Ensemble publicity events are usually more about the execution of concept and style rather than the proliferation of sales. And this was exactly what one saw at the exclusive evening, titled (rather misleadingly) as Fashions Night Out.

Sikander (the cafe is derived from his French name, Alexander) with Saima Mohsin

A dainty and aesthetic arrangement, Ensemble’s FNO wasn’t so much about fashion as it was about style and just getting together with a few friends. The music, the ambience lit up with white candles, chandeliers and flowers and the sneak preview into Xander’s Café (officially opening on October 13th) made it worth the visit. But it really didn’t seem to be serving the cause, which was to raise funds for charity.

Sara, Saima, Sikander, Moazzam and Fareshteh enjoying the soft launch of Xander’s.

Designers had contributed outfits exclusively for the purpose, Zeba informed me at the event, but unfortunately women had misinterpreted the concept of Fashion’s Night Out as a fashion show for which they had to be seated and perhaps bid for clothes later.

“There was a mad rush at the store around 6:30,” Shezray Husain, one of Zeba’s two daughters shared later in the evening. But people thinned out by the time the event was actually scheduled to begin.

The exciting thing to come out of the evening was Zeba sharing the fact that she will be shifting Ensemble Lahore from the Mall of Lahore to 10Q, which is known for PFDC’s multi-retail store The Boulevard. According to Zeba, their (PFDC’s) lease came to an end and so the location was available.

Moreover, Ensemble will be introducing the store-within-store concept.

“Several designers like Umar Sayeed and Nomi Ansari will be setting up mini-stores within Ensemble,” Zeba shared with pride. “And of course there will be Ritu Kumar and several other Indian designers. We are off to Delhi for fashion week next week and are hoping to bring some exciting new names to Pakistan.”

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