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It’s been a fashion-heavy last ten days, starting with the PFDC L’Oreal Bridal Week and ending with the Hum Style Awards, which honestly were the antithesis of fashion. But wedged in between, and coming in as a very stylish breather, was the Elan solo show in Lahore. Showcasing a 10-outfit capsule, Khadijah Shah made it very clear that this showcase would be a smaller affair than the one she hosted for the Palais Indochine collection last year; but even small by Khadijah Shah standards is very grand.

A farmhouse (made famous by a catfight that two models had in the swimming pool) played host to Champs De Patchouli (which means ‘fields of patchouli’ flowers). October has been warm in Lahore but outdoor climate control ensured that a perfect temperature would be maintained; anything short of perfect would have been catastrophic for the delicate smoked salmon canapés, tuna and crab sushi and tall, chilled flutes that kept high society well hydrated and happy. A glass floor covered the controversial swimming pool; not that it helped it stay out of conversation.



The centre of discussion, of course, was the collection, modelled by 10 handpicked models of Khadijah’s choice. The clothes were a blend of sparkling pastels, enhanced further by a grand selection of jewelry by Sherezad Rahimtoola. Khadijah and Sherezad have always worked well together, their design aesthetic compliments each other and we wouldn’t be surprised if we heard of more (and bigger) collaborations in future. For now, the picture of opulence they painted was perfect.

The collection was regal, to say the least. It worked around different silhouettes, ranging from straight column shirts worn over intricately crafted lehngas to belted tunics over ghararas and several heavier, aristocratic ensembles. The one outfit that Mehreen Syed modeled was rumoured to be a whopping 60 kilos; that’s 15 kilos heavier than Mehreen’s body weight and credit goes to the professional model for carrying it with ease. Almost.


Mehreen Syed on the glass runway.


“We’ve done so much crystal work in the past that we decided to do less crystal and more craft now,” Khadijah said about the collection in an earlier interview. “There is a lot of gotta and threadwork, reworked in a classic Elan way. As always, we have experimented with silhouettes, even in wedding wear.”

For someone who spends so much time and energy on creating new couture collections each year, it was a matter of time before the designer branched out into doing solo shows. And she says it was necessary, in order to do justice to her work.

“I like showing on my own,” Khadijah said after the show. “We have a lot more control when we’re showing solo; I work with people I’m more comfortable with and who share my vision. Most importantly, I’m able to curate an experience. There are endless merits to showing solo and there aren’t any unexpected surprises.”



Khadijah remembered how once, at fashion week, she was showing between two brands that were designing clothes so similar to hers that one of her junior assistants actually dragged out a model from the other show, thinking she was wearing Elan; she was so confused. She furthered that a solo show also ensured that her guests got to see what they had come to experience and that they didn’t have to endure an endless day of back to back shows. The positives were endless.

And back to her show, Khadijah made sure it was an enjoyable evening that featured ‘dinner and dance’ on the invite, just as prominently as it did her collection showcase. It was all about getting together and having a good time and as Kamiar Rokni – who gave everyone a lesson in how to enunciate Champs De Patchouli properly said, only Khadijah can pull in such a multi-generational crowd. One saw two generations of Taseers and Manshas, along with the movers and shakers of society. The fashion industry was out in full force too; one saw HSY, Zara Shahjahan and Ali Xeeshan as well as the young and upcoming Hussain Rehar and Hira Ali (both of whom have worked with Elan). The star element was the one Fawad Khan and frankly, when you have Fawad Khan at your event, you don’t need more star power.




Her next solo showcase, the bigger annual show, is expected to be held in spring, after which lawn season will begin. With plans to expand to Karachi, into high street and beyond, Khadijah explained that the tagline featured on several of her designs – The best is yet to come – actually referred to the future of Elan. She was excited!


  • Photography by Irfan Younas Photography, Beeworks and Shutterworks
  • This article was first published in Instep on October 24, 2017