On a cold February night while mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across a lawn advertisement. The next insta post showed socialites wearing sleeveless lawn suits at a launch event. Now I see these same women smiling into the camera almost every hour featured in different elitist magazines and posts. I could have sworn they were wearing jackets and carrying designer bags just yesterday at a polo match.
For those of you not familiar with lawn it’s a fabric to be worn in summers. It’s the finest form of cotton weave which has a soft almost luxurious feel to it. Its comfortable, airy and breathable to give women (never heard of men wearing it) much needed respite from the sweltering heat.
Some of the top brands which are magically sold out at Cinderalla time on their prebooking dates are Elan, Sana Safinaz, Faraz Manan and Sobia Nazir.
“Please take care of yourselves, don’t put yourselves or others in harm’s way, be happy and stay safe.” Khadija Shah, designer of Elan addressed her customers on Instagram, preparing them for the battle ahead.
Lines are formed outside flagship stores the day of the pre-booking only to be broken as soon as doors open. Social media gets flooded with videos of violent women destroying anything and everything that comes in their way. Salesmen scarred both emotionally and physically.
“A furious customer smashed a salesman’s head,” said Tahir who works as a driver and was an eyewitness to the incident.
The disgruntled man had queued up for Elan 3A since 6am. When he finally reached the salesman, he was told they had run out of stock.
Now why do a certain class of people, mostly educated, behave like this is beyond human comprehension. Pushing and shoving are considered milder forms of aggression when it comes to buying their chosen design.
There is method to this madness. First the social media campaigns start. Then you see pictures and videos of unbelievably tall and beautiful women with fair skin and European features wearing long shirts, flared trousers and flowing silk dupattas (long scarves worn traditionally in Pakistan). Some are basking in the sun on a cruise in Italy with their fluttering dupattas following them everywhere. Others lying on a sofa in a French palace and some staring blankly while walking in a forest. The designs and campaigns of different designer brands each year have started looking eerily like each other.
Then the catalogues come out. Hype is created and countdown to online pre-booking starts. Women look through endless pictures while holding their breath and write the codes to their favorite designs for pre-booking. Its status symbol and the race to wear it first rather than the love for lawn that drives sales. There is frenzy around this time. Girls try to ask their friends which one they will buy while casually mentioning they will not buy any designer lawn this season as not to disclose the codes of the suits they are trying to get.
I vowed not to get into the designer lawn trap but unfortunately succumbed to buying just one suit. When I went to collect it, I was approached by a middle-aged woman who took me to the side and started whispering that she had the ‘out of stock’ lawn joras. She handed out her number on a piece of paper and disappeared as swiftly as she had appeared.
Out of curiosity and partly because the design my mother liked was also the first to run out, I called that number to ask about availability. To my horror, the woman quoted almost double the price for the same suit! Talk about creating a business opportunity out of women’s desperation to wear their favorite design before their friends do.
Now I know, designer lawns are nowhere in the affordable range. Most are around Rs 7,000 for a three-piece suit which include unstitched fabric for a shirt and trouser, a dupatta and some random patches (with little to no information given where each patch belongs). But paying double of that seemed unreasonable and wrong.
If you thought the ordeal ends here, wait till you take this lawn suit for stitching. The otherwise friendly tailors during winter months start showing attitude during this season. The prized packet comes with a paper indicating contents in English (I wonder why not in Urdu) and a picture of a model wearing it. When you open it, random cloth pieces much like a jigsaw puzzle keep coming out. Surprisingly this baffles the customers, but the tailors exactly know what fits where. For their services, they charge exorbitantly. Appliques, patches, hem, trimmings, home delivery, stitching early are some of the add-ons included in the final stitching bill which is not meant for the light-hearted. Stitching costs can go up to Rs 3000 or more for a suit.
The Pakistani rupee hit an all-time low of around 146 against the dollar and further devaluation is expected. People are complaining about inflation and rising food prices but there is silence on the topic of exorbitant designer lawn prices. How can so many people afford something so expensive?
More and more textile mills are collaborating with designers to come up with their lawn collection each year. This year low-priced alternatives by coveted designer brands like Muzlin by Sana Safinaz and Zaha by Elan were seen in the market but not met with that much enthusiasm by the seasoned lawn buyers. The whole concept of designer lawn works on looking expensive and showing off otherwise the veterans of lawn like Al Karam, Gul Ahmed and Nishat Linen still have the softest and purest form of the fabric.
Lawn mania doesn’t end here. Now that Eid is around the corner, all the brands are coming out with their formal collection. Did I mention Volume II and III will follow?
The saga never ends… Maha Shah is a freelance writer, journalist and HR professional who has worked for Google and Bloomberg and has lived in Jordan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Qatar and now Pakistan
By Maha Shah
Rani Emaan has always been a name of antiquity and regalia
This is what she had to share.
- Considering there are two founders of the brand, how did “Rani Emaan” come into existence?
My childhood friend & co-partner Deeba Haider first pitched in the idea to name the brand after our first borns, my daughter “Emaan” and “Raniya” shortened to “Rani” being Deeba’s, put together, we thought it’d be a first of its kind.
- What is your personal style statement in wedding\formal wear?
I’d say, a modest sense of styling and trying to be elegant while doing so, whatever the occasion may be!
- Who handles what out of both?
I handle the design & production end locally since I’m based here , where as Deeba handles all the foreign clientele since she’s based in the states .
- If there is any conflict in designing or executing how do you deal with this?
Oh never! It’s unusual in business but we never have conflicts since our job description is pre- set and pre-decided. I do not interfere in her department and she doesn’t speak in my domain since we respect & trust each other’s decisions in the respective departments which is why we’ve been successful business partners for 12 years now.
- What do you think is lacking in today’s fashion industry?
Fashion industry is evolving quickly especially with technological innovations but the direction may be questionable . I think we still miss the awareness about what actually fashion is and it’s impact on the environment. Also, I think the industry lacks a variety of options for the plus size women since most apparel comes in small or medium sized clothing which needs to be focused on.
- Do you like the idea of showstopping with an actor\actress rather than a renowned model?
Honestly, it can’t be generalised, every brand has a unique aesthetic & if it goes well with a specific brand image then I’d say go for it!
- How do you think bridal trends have changed over time?
Over the last few years, we’ve seen an inclination towards old school cuts coming back into fashion.
- In Winter wedding, what will be your hot favorite Barat color?
My favourite is Scarlet red & Gold since it’s our signature winning colour combination!
- Have you ever sensed any kind of monopoly in the fashion industry?
I think every industry has monopolistic competition irrespective of the industry be it telecommunications & not just fashion apparel since every one wants to be the best in the business which can be unfair at times but this is business! It’s a fight of the fittest!
- Any budding designer that you praise a lot?
Menahel & Mehreen are doing a good job among so many others.
- What are your next plans?
We’re introducing a menswear line soon for the year 2020 along with an exciting new luxury wear line! So stay tuned!
Laal Kabootar Wins At Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival
The highly critically acclaimed Pakistani feature film, LAAL KABOOTAR won the Best Feature Film Award at the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival 2019. Director Kamal Khan received the award on the Closing Night & Awards Ceremony held at Surrey City Hall in Surrey, British Columbia on 17th November 2019. Laal Kabootar is Nehr Ghar Films’ debut production.
The film, which is also the official submission of Pakistan for the 92nd Academy Awards in the ‘International Feature Film Award’ category, have also grabbed the Archana Soy Audience Award for ‘Best Feature Film’ at the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival 2019 in Seattle earlier this year.
Previously, Laal Kabootar was an official selection at the Singapore South Asian International Film Festival 2019 and also at the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival 2019. In Washington DC the lead actor of Laal Kabootar Ahmed Ali Akbar, won the ‘Best Actor Male’ Award for his performance.
Laal Kabootar was released in March 2019 in Pakistan and so far, critiques have credited it as the best Pakistani movie of this year.
The film is a rollercoaster ride featuring Ahmed Ali Akbar as Adeel Nawaz – a hustling taxi-driver, looking for a way out of Karachi. But with his back against the wall, Adeel has some hard choices to make. Aliya Malik, played by the alluring Mansha Pasha, is strong-headed to the point of being stubborn, however when her world turns upside down in a series of incidents, she chooses to put up a fight even though her life is on the line.
With its action-packed sequences and blinding pace, the flick also stars multi-talent actors such as Rashid Farooqui, Saleem Meraj, Ali Kazmi, Shamim Hilali, Akbar Islam, Syed Arsalan, Saad Fareedi, Hammad Siddiq, Ishtiaq Omar, Meesum Naqvi, Faiza Gillani, Mohammed Ahmed and Kaleem Ghour to name a few.
Laal Kabootar has been directed by the award-winning Kamal Khan with Harvard graduates Hania Chima and Kamil Chima as the Executive Producers.
So far no Pakistani film has ever made it to final nominations at Oscars, however with Laal Kabootar, Pakistani Cinema lovers are keeping their fingers crossed.
SOLIS: ULTIMATE SHOW OF ARTS AND MUSIC
The third instalment of Solis Music and Arts Festival 2019 took place in Karachi at the Moin Khan Stadium on Saturday November 16th, truly a day to remember in the history of city! The festival featured a stellar line-up of local and international artists as well as immersive brand activations. The PR of the event was managed by Catalyst PR. The hosts Anoushey Ashraf and Khalid Malik kept energy high all through the night.
The day started with 42 Day Challenge founder Nusrat Hidayatullah with the help of Ayesha Omer who warmed up festival attendees with an animal flow yoga session on the sounds of Soul Potion (one half of the FDVM duo).
As day turned to dusk, a listing of local talent took over the stage to ease into the night. Neha Khan brought in some chilled lounge vibes while DJ Maleo warmed up the crowd for Turhan James, who already have played at Solis Islamabad and Lahore this year. He brought in an epic big room EDM set featuring his new song “Feel Alive” to which the crowd went wild!
For this edition of Solis, the festival explored an eclectic mix of international sounds. Hailing from Turkey, Oceanvs Orientalis brought in an interesting mix of electro – oriental sounds, some of which were inspired from Pakistan electronic.
The dynamic FVDM duo known for their groovy contagious vibe and uplifting house music did just that! The crowd was absolutely besotted with their set especially when they added in their remix of Pakistani iconic hits such as Disco Deewane by Nazia Hassan and Bibi Sherene. The surprises didn’t stop there as they introduced Ayesha Omer on stage to showcase their first ever collaboration “Flying so High”.
Kill the Buzz delivered dance floor shakers to get the crowd warmed up for the main act of the night- Clean Bandit live in action with a DJ set led by Luke Patterson and vocals with Yasmin Green and Kirsten Joy. Dressed in an all neon ensemble, the group was truly the centre of attention enchanting the crowd with their top hits and a surprise sneak peak at their VIP remix of Rockabye, the classic which is still on youtubes top 30 most watched videos.
The evening was a star studded night with celebrities such as Mehwish Hayat, Saqib Malik, Deepak Perwani, Mansha Pasha, Nadia Hussain, Zhalay Saradi, Tara Mehmood, Shahzad Noor, Asim raza and many more. The mayor of Karachi Waseem Akhter and his wife also present the occasion.
The Solis team can’t wait to share some exciting news for 2020! Stay tuned.