Alchemy Fashion from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh

Day three of the Southbank Centre’s Alchemy Festival included a fashion show featuring emerging designers from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A regular feature of the Festival, the show is considered an important platform for these designers outside their home countries. Last year’s show featured Laila Rouass in a headdress made entirely from the contents of Cobra Beer. Read more about that here.

This year’s show – organised by Riwayat – featured, amongst many others, Sonya Battla, Nasreen Raja, Probartana, Buddhi Batiks, Red Cocoon and Dude & Betty. Designers showed formal, casual and what even looked a little bit like sportswear. Our favourites were British-Bengali designer Rukia Begum who recently graduated from the London College of Communication. Her use of bold pattern and colour in loose-flowing silk kurtas and separates (including a quite delicious little panelled pencil skirt) made for highly covetable, very wearable designs. And Pakistan’s Mohsin Ali, whose work is inspired by his Hazara heritage, and whose mini-collection featured stylised flower motifs on bohemian dresses, gypsy blouses and skirts, a quite fantastical Joseph’s dreamcoat-esque jacket, and a lovely line in cut out flower jewellery.

But it was the razzmatazz of the more mainstream formalwear collections from Pakistan that had the audience spell-bound. Designer Zainab Chottani sent down a series of elegant shapes featuring delicate monochrome embellishment. And Rizwan Ahmed closed out with a show-stopping finale of diaphanous white gowns embellished with crystals.  Those familiar with Pakistani fashion might say that there wasn’t much that was new here, but seeing high-quality Pakistani design and workmanship twinkling under the lights of the Southbank’s Clore Ballroom in front of an enthralled multicultural audience was truly a sight to proudly behold.

We took photos, and those of our favourite designs are in the gallery below. Do be sure to click through to the second page for photos of the finale. There are 40 photos in total.

In case anything catches your eye, Riwayat are holding a trunk show at the Pakistan High Commission today – April 13th – from 1pm-7 pm, where you might be able to get your hands on some of the Pakistani designs, and meet the designers. More here.

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