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Shamaeel and Nomi Ansari showcase their Fall 2011 collections to celebrate UAE’s 40th Independence Day Anniversary in Karachi

Nadia Hussain models a Nomi Ansari bridal

(Published on Sunday, December 11 2011)

On the surface, a celebration for UAE’s 40th Independence Day anniversary in Karachi appeared to be nothing more than a diplomatic exercise and it primarily was just that. Celebrated over a gala evening of songs by Strings and dances by regional troupes along with some very high-end fashion by Shamaeel and Nomi Ansari, the evening served as an effective measure to strengthen the relationship between both countries. Representation from the UAE came with Rabia Z, the Emirati designer who showcased her Spring/Summer 2012 Mukhawara Collection.

Fashion held the evening together. This show officially opened winter as the official season for bridal couture, with the event providing a platform for two Pakistani designers to showcase their Fall 2011 couture collections to a marquee full of potential clients. Shamaeel confirmed that her entire collection had been ordered and booked immediately and Nomi Ansari was equally delighted with the response he was getting from his elite clients, all present that night.

“This is my clientele,” he spoke to Dawn Images after the show. “It makes sense for me to showcase at these events.”

Pakistani designers have historically exhibited, stocked and even showed at events (like Dubai Fashion Week) in the UAE as the demand for Pakistani fashion is very high there. This show magnified the same purpose, as not only did it build bridges with power players in the UAE but also directly served them a product that they love.

“My entire collection has been sold,” an ecstatic Shameel reinforced Nomi’s sentiments later. “There is an incredible amount of interest from the Middle East for Pakistani fashion and this is a great place to tap into that interest and build businesses.”

Shamaeel, Fall 2011/12

Shamaeel’s collection, titled Best of Pakistan, retained her trademark palette that played with earthen tones including rust, reds, warm browns and oranges. It took off from where her previous collections had left, continuing to play with delicate screen prints, gold thread embroidery and an interplay of textures via laces and embellishment.

 Shamaeel also retained the popularity of long, almost ankle-skimming shirts though she did diversify with shorter tunics worn with shalwars. One felt that the comeback of the traditional shalwar was the strongest statement she made. Her collections always take fashion from the pure revivalism to contemporary patterns and this collection, with its diverse take on trousers, jackets and short tunics, was no different.

While Shamaeel retails primarily in Karachi – she stocks at Emporio Taneez and caters to an exclusive clientele through regular exhibitions at her studio – she does retail at boutiques in Dubai and is quite popular amongst the expatriate Pakistan community as well as Emiratis. For her, this event presented the ideal opportunity to publicize her latest collection.

Nomi Ansari was just as loyal to his signature in the ‘Threads of Unity’ collection that created a grand union of colours. With the wedding season peaking over the next six months, this is the beginning of a very busy time for designers catering to the bridal market.

Fayeza Ansari models a Nomi Ansari bridal

What one saw in Nomi Ansari’s collection was a predominance of gotta or traditional tinsel craftsmanship. After having worked with crystals for very long, the designer revived old techniques with gotta along with the equally classic elements like kiran and chatta patti trimmings in three complimenting colours. His trademark ganga jamini (gold and silver) threadwork was replaced by a gold palette, which he says will make a comeback as the metal gold is becoming a precious and covetable commodity.

Nomi Ansari always creates a mix and match impact with colours and this collection reinforced the fact that bridal ensembles should not be impractical but should be able to be deconstructed and re-worn as separates. Therefore Dhaka pajamas replaced lenhgas, shirts became longer for practical purposes (the short shirts worn over ghararas become redundant after the wedding) and dupattas were created in third colour contrasts to be worn separately later. Essentially, the idea was to get at least three different looks out of one outfit.

Coming back to the event, there is always immense debate on how and where fashion should be showcased. For the last two years, all eyes have been set on fashion weeks and the business that must be generated as its main aim. Fashion weeks are all about showcasing new collections to buyers and the media; they are modeled as serious, no-fuss trade events. But that doesn’t mean all fashion events should be serious and fun-free. And it certainly does not mean that all fashion should be limited to fashion weeks. Events like this must be encouraged ‘along with’ fashion weeks (not ‘instead of’ them) as they offer just as much to individual designers in terms of publicity, brand building and subsequently sales.

This show put the boom back in bridals and welcomed winter with the need for couture and the smattering of theatrics, gimmickry and star power that accompanies it. There wasn’t much drama here but that value is expected at the upcoming PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week where drama will hopefully run high.

Rabia Z’s Arabian delight

The third designer to showcase at the UAE Independence Day celebration brought an essential Arab flavour to the event. This was not Rabia Z’s first time in Pakistan; she debuted at Fashion Pakistan Week 2 early last year.

Colours of the UAE flag abaya designed specifically for the show

Hot off the runways of New York – where she recently showed parts of this collection – UAE based Rabia Z returned to Pakistan with her Mukhawara Collection titled ‘Traditions. Today. Tomorrow’. A mukhawara is a long traditional dress worn by Emirati women. It expresses all traditions of modernism without revealing the body and borrows style from a lot of drapery and pleating.

fashion for the modest

 Rabia Z has developed a widespread following with collections that have global appeal in their contemporary approach and yet they cater specifically to women who prefer to cover their heads. This collection featured the same ethos. Based on a rich palette that included emerald greens, turquoise blues and deep purples it also had accents of screen prints developed from the Mukhawara culture. An interesting signature that Rabia repeated was the asymmetrical sleeve: one bat-winged and the other fitted. She ended her show with a series of sequined and embellished abayas.

While Pakistani designers have a huge following in the UAE, the market for modern Islamic wear in Pakistan is equally widespread. With a mass population of conservatives who wear abayas, one feels that fashion trade between UAE and Pakistan can work in welcoming Emirati designers into the local market just as effectively as Pakistani fashion is exported to the Middle East.

Event: Catwalk

Photography: would know if Catwalk’s media manager had sent credits with pictures.

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