Now in it’s eleventh season, it seems like Pakistan Fashion Week London has been bringing Pakistani fashion to the London market for an age now. The week, which is actually two days over a weekend, consists of a series of shows presenting high-street and high-end fashion from Pakistan and the UK, ranging in aesthetic from traditional, to fusion, to outright contemporary.
There have been teething problems – earlier seasons were dogged with issues of late starts, and difficulties in seating guests. Full disclosure – we’ve never been for those reasons. For what it’s worth, the run-up to this year’s event seems palpably different, and the venue is the prestigious Lancaster House. Most importantly though, while we can’t recommend the experience first-hand, we can guarantee the impressive calibre of some of the designers that PFW London have managed to secure this year.
Here are our highlights of the 36 designers exhibiting. All – with the exception of Uzma Babar who will also show bridals – will be showing the latest collections of their luxury pret and formals lines. The shows will be accompanied by an exhibition where guests can shop their favourite collections.
Faiza Samee is the grand doyenne of Pakistani fashion, both in status and sensibility. A champion of local craftsmanship, and traditional techniques and embroideries, her work is sumptuous, opulent, the stuff of regal costume dramas. Her recent show as part of a fashion showcase by Pakistan’s Hum TV network was a masterful presentation of colour and silhouette, and some very successful play with jackets.
Another of the industry’s legendary names, Shamaeel Ansari‘s label has been around for 30 years. Her signature style features intricate embroideries overlaid onto rich, intricate prints, and an emphasis on maximalist layering. Her recent showing – also at the Hum Fashion Showcase – featured her I am Red collection.
Another of Pakistan’s premier designers, and every bride’s wildest dream, Umar Sayeed will also be presenting. He doesn’t do fashion shows very often, but when he does they are something to behold. His trademark is a lean but traditional silhouette encrusted with rich, but delicate embroidery in the most exquisitely appealing, and often unashamedly romantic, colours. You will have seen his designs in the 2016 Mahira Khan-starrer Ho Mann Jahan. He served up a deliciously bespangled curve ball as part of his Hum Fashion Showcase, with his Ode to Zainab Market collection which is an exciting series of denims with gold and floral embellishment.
Uzma Babar‘s 2015 Floral Goddess bridal collection was another delicious set of traditional ensembles in candy-coloured pastels, with the loveliest embellishment of pearls combined with antique zardozi. Her label Umsha has continued to experiment with colour and silhouette, and her latest collections have done interesting things with peplum lehngas. Still I’m hoping the PFW show includes a bit of a retrospective! She will be showing her bridal and formals lines.
Recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Government of Sindh, designer Maheen Khan is one of Pakistani fashion’s pioneers. Her Gulabo line was part of the Fashion DNA: Pakistan 2016/17 showcase held in London earlier this year, and showed a quintessentially bohemian collection complete with dhoti shalwars and vibrant folk print tunics and dresses with truck art inspired motifs.
Apart from rolling out a series of retail stores across Pakistan, and lawn and ready to wear lines which have been known to offer some universally appealing gems (both mum and I are proud owners), I’m not sure what else Sana Safinaz have been up to at the higher, more design-oriented end of the spectrum. Whatever they’re showing, it probably won’t disappoint. Their 2014 PFDC show (below) was to DIE for. And, 2013 wasn’t too shabby either…
Now for the fine print. The event features three catwalks shows taking place over the two days. The first is the Official Opening Show taking place on Saturday evening, which features three of the designers highlighted here – Faiza Samee, Shamaeel and Sana Safinaz. The remaining two shows will take place on the Sunday. The afternoon show will feature designer lawn collections, and the finale will focus on fusion wear, including by Maheen Khan, Uzma Babar and Umar Sayeed. Tickets for each show have to be purchased separately.
The exhibition will run throughout the weekend, and entry to that is FREE.
Opening Night Catwalk, Saturday 20 May 2017, 7.30pm
Matinee Catwalk, Sunday 21 May 2017, 3pm
Grand Finale, Sunday 21 May 2017, 7.30pm
Exhibition, Saturday 20 – Sunday 21 May 2017, 12pm onwards
Where: Lancaster House, Stable Yard, London SW1A 1BB
Opening Night Catwalk, £20 – £50
Matinee Catwalk, £20 – £35
Grand Finale, £20 – £45
More info and to book: Pakistan Fashion Week London
By Seema Khan
Top photo by Boguslaw Mastaj
Posted on 14 May 2017
*This article was amended on 15 May 2017 to fix various minor editing errors.