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(Published in Dawn on March 10, 2013)

Lawn mania hit an all-time high last year and though the ‘movement’ may still be underway, one feels it won’t be long before we come full circle and head back to our staple/healthy diets of Gul Ahmad, Al Karam, Nishat and even Mausummery, where lawn is still regarded as a light weight, simple and breathable fabric to be worn through summer. What more? We will realize the attraction in buying a flexible yardage of fabric (as needed), in the very print that we like. One can understand the fascination in purchasing one or two varieties of ‘dress-up’ lawn from a designer of your choice but why, in this age of inflation, are women swaddling themselves in more cotton than you can find in an Egyptian tomb? Why more and more women are looking like confectionary deals, Christmas decorations and/or inflatable dolls even when they’re stepping out to do their weekly groceries is inexplicable! This fancy lawn has run its natural course and here’s why it needs to die now….

1. The DIY kit

You pay around and over 5000 rupees for a ‘goody bag’ full of rags that have to be put together like a jigsaw puzzle. There’s a front, a back, two sleeves, a satin border, maybe an embroidered neckline (that attaches like a bib) and in some cases even a strand of pearls or crystals to be sewn on. Your DIY kit will come with a photograph of what the final product should look like but alas! Neither you nor your 100-year-old family tailor will be able to put this puzzle together. In all probability, you’ll be stuck with rags that’ll serve better to wipe the dishes with…if the colour doesn’t bleed, that is.

Indian couturier JJ Valaya's lawn collection may be anticipated for novelty value but it does no justice to what we desire from lawn: sophistication and freshness.

Indian couturier JJ Valaya’s lawn collection may be anticipated for novelty value but it falls short on sophistication and spring/summer freshness. Even Meesha Shafi fails to make it work.

2. Don’t judge a jora by its cover

The image on your DIY kit will lead you to a vision of yourself floating on puffy white clouds in yards and yards of billowing fabric. Truth is, you won’t have enough fabric in your kit to add an extra panel, let alone building yourself a fancy dress costume. How many times have the women bought these DIY kits and then rubbished them because there wasn’t enough fabric to make a simple, decent kurta let alone the magnum opus advertised on the cover. Not fair because a) Not everyone wants to wear a sartorial version of the chatta patti quilt that your grandmother passed on to you in your dowry and b) Those who do want to wear the grand productions are let down by the insufficient fabric provided. It’s like buying a modeling plane and finding out your kit has only one wing. Kudos to brands like Yahsir Waheed who keep their designs simple and only show samples of what women can actually replicate with the fabric that comes in the jora.

Even the beautiful Iman cannot make this design desirable.

Even the beautiful Iman cannot make this design desirable.

3. Less is not more

‘More is more’ when it comes to designer lawn. So those of us who prefer to dress simple and not be mummified when the mercury reaches a peak can go find another corner to complain in. Because lawn, my friends, is our answer to Marie Antoinette’s lavish couture gowns! All we need are silk wigs, satin slippers and tons of jewelry to complete the look. One have to object to this ridiculous trend; why has everyone jumped onto the bandwagon of dress-up lawn and why is ‘designer’ lawn defying the very purpose of good design: originality? Designers are supposed to be creative people so then why are 106.5 of the lawn labels this year looking like a 2010 Sana Safinaz look book? Also, designers are supposed to encourage women to dress like individuals, which is why feeding them generic looks is absurd. With the kind of DIY kits that we’re getting it’s impossible to even change the neckline on a shirt piece! You have to design the outfit as the manual instructs!

Cloning is a disturbing trend. One will, of course, indulge in one or two dress-up varieties for Eid or a family function but when it comes to everyday dressing, you do not want to be caught dead in a mummy’s costume, pun intended! Designers need to give us aesthetically balanced, distinctive prints and let us design our own outfits. And if they feel that they would do a better job of dressing the nation (which many of them would) then they need to turn their lawn into ready to wear. Some of them are designing ready to wear lawn this year and that should be a trend to look forward to! As for the rest, let them be bygones!

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