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Pakistan’s first ever ‘virtual fashion show’- the brainchild of Frieha Altaf CEO of Catwalk Event Management & Productions started yesterday on Geo Television Network’s social media platforms Har Pal Geo, yesterday. 

The ‘Catwalk Cares’ Virtual Fashion Show’ was initially planned for the first three days of eid-ul-fitr but postponed in respect to the memory of those who tragically lost their lives in the PIA A-320 jet crash including Pakistani supermodel Zara Abid. Later, the same was rescheduled to be aired on 5th, 6th & 7th of June 2020 (YouTube – 7:00PM) (Facebook – 9:00PM).

The innovative digital fashion show in which 19 leading Pakistani brands are participating, capsule pieces from their latest collections.

Day One included six designers. All the participating designers and models in the show repeatedly expressed what may now be the new ground reality in fashion show presentations: “virtual fashion shows.” They also appreciated the efforts of the management to dedicate this show to the front-liners. Amir Adnan said, “Designers care about them (frontliners) Catwalk cares about them and Fashion cares about them”

Show director Frieha Altaf thanked all the designers, models and frontliners and also hoped that the Eid garments given to the frontliners as kind gestures of gratitude “put a smile on their faces.

Day One kicked off with retail game-changer Khaadi whose collection   ‘Bohemia’ described by KHAADI CEO Shamoon Sultan as all about “expressing one’s individuality in a fun way” was modelled by: Robina Khan. Set against a brightly-hued ethnic backdrop the four-piece capsule included  vibrant fuchsia cobalt, citrine and tangerine ethnic prints transposed onto short belted bell-sleeved tunics and layered  tasseled coats  offset with traditional carry-on bags  Both designer and model thanked the front-liners for their brave services and vowed to continue to support them

Before the next designer Maheen Karim’s showcase ‘Parizad’, some behind-the-scenes communications between Maheen and her chosen model Rahhima Ali added a bit of interest and showed the art of coordination via social media. ‘Parizad’ was supposed to have been showcased at the cancelled Hum Showcase (March 2020). Maheen had collaborated with Image Fabrics and transposed their materials into classic Maheen Karim silhouettes. Parizad was ostensibly all about empowered women. The all-white five piece capsule included swirly one-shoulder lace evening gowns; three-layered bolero tops worn with Jodhpur pants and a gorgeous sari/stole hybrid evening look offset with traditional ethnic jewellery including teekas. To reiterate the fact the show was a CSR activity with Fashion indubitably “caring” both designer and model gave out thankful shout-outs to the frontliners including “doctors, nurses and policemen and women” 

The next designer Amir Adnan was happy and excited to be part of the innovative digital fashion show that was “’paying tribute to the frontliners. His four looks Summer Festive Eid collection was modelled by enthusiastic rising star Subhan Awan and used a simple palette of lilac and deep purple juxtaposed with black and white and was transposed onto slim long and short shalwar kameez elegantly coordinated with plain and printed waistcoats and buttoned prince coats.  Ironically it was a male model who was highlighted using the make-up kit Zero Make Up by NABILA which is the official hair and make-up partner for Catwalk Cares!

Nida Azwer spoke about the virtual show as “the new way forward to accepting and adapting to the new normal. Model Fahmeen Ansari presented the four piece ‘Anemone’ capsule by Nida that included timeless pieces carefully hand-embroidered using the finest quality fabrics enhanced with delicate crystal and traditional intricate resham and  zardozi embroidery. The season-less separates that included kalidars and jackets which can be paired in multiple ways radiated in soft hues of pinks, gold silver and ivory and are indubitably collector items.

Huma Adnan showed her collection ‘Kuchi’ included five looks that were inspired by Kandahar, Afghanistan and included long flowing white kuchi skirts worn with short embroidered tops and kuchi kaftan dresses in cerise, black, and pink florals, organically hand-printed by Afghani refugees, whom Huma closely works with and pays tribute to. The festive fusion and easily translatable resort wear collection was  accessorized with signature Huma Adnan handmade jewellery  made by the same Afghan refugee women, Well-edited behind the scenes looks of Huma’s model Abeer trying on the festive tribal jewellery was  energizing.  Huma also showcased matching reusable and washable masks which are also available for sale while calling the frontliners “our true heroes and patriots”

The sixth and last designer of day one was the ever eloquent and pioneering couturier Shamaeel Ansari was delighted to be part of Catwalk Cares and its initiative for the frontliners. The opulent three piece capsule collection ‘The Light of Darkness’ was elegantly modelled by Fahmeen Ansari in myriad well-lit and close-up shots and included black and silver backless short bell-sleeved tunics worn with slim cropped cigarettes pants; scarlet one shoulder frilly tunics worn with coordinated protective masks and a luxurious gold and black high-collared opera coat with slit kimono sleeves replete with leather gloves that exuded high voltage drama and glamour!

Day One ended with a photo montage tribute to supermodel Zara Abid (1992-2020) and “all the precious lives lost on the tragic PIA A-320 jet crash” against a lilting soundtrack of iconic Pakistani band Strings 2018 hit ‘Urr Jaoon’ (Fly Away). The montage included glowing tributes by friends and  colleagues who had worked with the late super model including designers Sana Safinaz, Khadijah Shah of Élan and Nomi Ansari and models and actresses Mushk Kaleem, Abeer Rizvi and Saba Qamar who had narrated the debut short film ‘Sikka’ in which Zara acted in a double role. 

With a well-executed and well-edited show, day one was an encouraging and inspiring harbinger for more great fashion to come…

Watch – ‘’Catwalk Cares’’ Virtual Fashion Show – Episode 1

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Raaz-e-Ulfat Very Well Relates to a Pakistani Girl Living in a Strict Household



Raaz-e-Ulfat is one of the latest dramas that has instantly struck a chord with masses owing to its relatable story-line and amazing performances by the remarkable cast. For the uninitiated, what exactly is the plot?

Putting it briefly, Mushk Iftikhar dreams of exploring the world outside her conservative house. She accomplishes her dream life to some extent when she comes across a friend in her university who introduces her to the colours of life. Though, little does Mushk know that Sehba secretly envies her simplicity and innocence and wishes to ruin her life.

Mushk’s life is somewhat a true depiction of most Pakistani girls belonging to strict households, and hence the show has become more interesting and connecting for the younger lot in Pakistan.

You can’t move a bone without your parent’s permission

Yes! Parent’s approval is mandatory in everything you do. You can’t study, sleep, eat, choose a career, go out, come late, etc. as per your own will. You can only breathe on your own… rest will depend on your parents’ will. Poor Mushk is in the same boat.

Privacy is a luxury you can never afford.

Mushk has got no private space in her house. She shares a room with her sister, like how it is usually in most households. Even when she is on a call with a friend, someone comes to inquire about the whereabouts of the caller. Privacy is indeed an out of the world thing for Mushk and others like her.

You have to be responsible like a grown-up, but you can never act like one.

Like Mushk, most Pakistani youth, particularly girls, are expected to grow up and take responsibilities but are not allowed to think that they have grown up in a literal way. Hence, you are always a bachi/ bacha who is bound to live by what your parents say.

Marriage is your ultimate goal in life

You dream about marriage and your khuwabon ka shehzada because that’s what your parents aim for you on completing your studies.


Modern Friends Are A Big No!

You cannot stay in touch with rich and modern friends as they are supposedly some spoilt kids who will definitely leave a bad influence on you.


 Dating someone is a big struggle!

Going out on a date is a real struggle yet you want to experience it despite knowing that if your parents find out, you are gone for life.


Since the very first episode, Raaz e Ulfat has turned every local TV drama trope on its head to offer a refreshingly new insight by subverting all the typical clichéd plot-lines of most local dramas, bringing forth such nuances that make the entire watching experience oh so relatable and befitting for people around us.


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Bunyad Foundation: Countering cerebral health issues with Mindcamp



Mental health, despite holding paramount significance, is largely ignored in third world countries. With societal progression, the rise of the middle class, and a certain ‘tilt’ or ‘shift’ towards westernization, issues associated with mental health have started to exacerbate. According to recent studies, one of the biggest reasons behind suicidal tendencies or suicide itself is mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD and other traumas, different phobias, bipolar disorder, personality disorder and other related disorders.

If we travel a few years back in time, mental health issues were unheard of in Pakistan, in fact, someone found complaining or discussing a mental health issue was either given a particular look or called out for being ‘overly-sensitive’. But over the past few years, things have changed drastically. Now, there are more and more people suffering from mental disorders and psychiatric consultations have increased considerably over time, but even now, a certain amount of people hesitate to seek psychiatric consultation.

The onslaught of Covid-19 has further aggravated the situation throughout the country, with people reporting severe cases of depression and anxiety amid continued lockdowns. It is pertinent to mention here that, although, the issues mentioned are usually associated with urban areas, but the situation in rural areas of Pakistan isn’t much different. Alarmingly, unlike popular opinion, that villages are happy-go-lucky people, even the village dwellers are unknowingly harnessing several mental disorders in this modern age.

In order to facilitate the underprivileged living in less developed, far-flung areas, the Bunyad Foundation in collaboration with Mind organization, has started organizing bi-monthly mind-camps in Hafizabad. The purpose of these camps is to provide free-of-cost facilities to underserved communities. Under these free camps, patients are provided free consultation, medicine and an intervention plan; that too free of cost.

Shaheen Attiq-ur-Rahman, Project Lead and founder of Mind Camp Bunyad, told us that, ‘rural folk suffers from the same mental disorders as more privileged people but often the intensity is greater. Most of the people do not have access to basic medication for relief. Since a lot of unhealed psychiatric disorders can lead to physical ill-health, rural folk face a double burden. At Mindcamp Bunyad, our mission is to give suffering villagers a chance at peace and to ease their task in life’.

It took some time, the involvement of Key Opinion leaders and sustained efforts to convince people to seek help for mental disorders and now there’s better awareness about these issues. In addition, the organization has been carrying out these activities for the past 9 years, by engaging experienced and trained mental health professionals, even in extreme weather, just for the betterment of the society. However, now, the number of mental health professionals offering services has dwindled, in fact, the patient-to-doctor/mental health professional ratio is discouraging.

In order for the unabated and unrestricted continuation of these services, and in order for better, sustained facility provision to the patients; financial backing is imminent, without which such a great initiative gradually might have to retreat. To facilitate the imperative service, Bunyad Foundation is playing a major role.

Get in touch with them to see how you can help.

For donations, please donate here.

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Quiet Women: on Surrealism, Beauty and the Female Voice



Lahore based poet, editor and columnist, Afshan Shafi launched her first full-length poetry collection, ‘Quiet Women’ last month. Stocked at Readings, the collection is a unique all-female collaboration featuring the illustrations of acclaimed artists, Samya Arif (Pakistan), Marjan Baniasadi (Iran) and Ishita Basu Mallik (India).

TS Eliot award nominee and winner of the Forward Prize for Poetry, Vahni Capildeo termed ‘Quiet Women’ as one of the ‘new poetries emerging in the twenty-first century which are characterized by a ferocity that spans yet exceeds love and outrage, involvement and observation’.



‘Quiet Women’ is an exploration of form and linguistic artistry, propelled by a sense of creative freedom espoused by the surrealists and abstract artists. Inspired by the creations of both Eastern and Western female artists and writers this book is a tribute to women and the power of their collective voices. Afshan Shafi has studied English Literature and International Relations at The University of Buckingham and Webster Graduate School London. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Blackbox Manifold, Poetry Wales, Flag + Void, Luna Luna, Clinic, 3 am magazine, Ala Champ Magazine, and others. Her poems have also appeared in the anthologies, Smear (edited by Greta Bellamacina), The New River Press Yearbook and Halal if you hear me ( edited by Fatima Asghar and Salma Elhilo). Her debut chapbook of poems ‘Odd Circles’ was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. For her work as a poet, she has been interviewed by Arte Tv (France) and Words Without Borders. As part of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan she has appeared on BBC (World), The Times (UK), and in The Economist’s culture magazine. She has also served as a poetry editor for “The Missing Slate” and is currently a senior contributing editor at Pakistan’s leading literary journal “The Aleph Review”. She also serves as an editor-in-chief for the online Pandemonium Journal, which is a platform for emerging creatives from Pakistan and abroad.


Inspiration to write this book: 

This is my first full-length collection and is a tribute to the panoply of female artists that continue to inspire me. From the creations of Iranian artist Farideh Lashai to the work of lesser-known poets like Veronica Forrest, there is a rich engagement with the work of these female trailblazers in ‘Quiet Women’. What makes the book different is its collaborative nature. Each artist I have collaborated with in ‘Quiet Women’ possesses something unique to their perspective. Samya Arif’s illustrations are defined by their bold and stylized detail. She thinks in an opulent manner. Marjan Baniasadi, hails from Iran and has studied at the NCA and her paintings are elegant, deeply intelligent and beautiful. Ishita Basu who lives in Calcutta, India, is a poet as well as an artist and there is such a yearning and melancholy to her creations. Their art complements my writing seamlessly in the book.



On how ‘Quiet Women’ came together


‘Quiet Women came together over a period of two years, where my poems were being frequently accepted by European magazines for publication. I decided to put together a collection of these poems with some newer verses with the intention to collaborate with artists for the final product. The titular poem of the collection ‘Quiet Women’ deals with the notion of female silence and the policing of a women’s language and her personal choices. For one reason or the other, this notion of ‘quietude’ had been drilled into me from an early age, and as I grew as a writer I started questioning all kinds of enforced silences, which in turn led me to critically examining all kinds of oppressive practices aimed at ‘containing’ the very agency of a woman. ‘Quiet Women’ as a book, functions for me as a bridge across a myriad number of fears; these verses are bridges across patriarchal structures, restrictive artistic ideologies, and perhaps purely existential concerns


On the collaboration with artists for ‘Quiet Women’


I would say that I have been a student of the Surrealists my whole life, as I have often been drawn to the interplay of artist mediums, in which they reveled. Surreal output has always been concerned with juxtapositions and techniques like ‘collage’ and ‘frottage’, and indulgence in hybridity. For example, Surrealist collaborations include films based on poems, in the way that the filmmaker Man Ray adapted poems by Robert Desnos to his medium. Since my poems are often initiated by visual ephemera, and my imaginative focus is on delineating these visuals (triggered of course by emotion or artistic curiosity), I found collaboration with these artists to be a natural progression. Each artist was sent the poem to illustrate without any instructions, the idea was for there to be a fluidity of connection, one derived purely by imaginative means, and for the artworks to be instinctual and primal.


Creative influences and the impact of Surrealism on my work


Each poem in ‘Quiet Women’ is a tribute to the marginalised, whether that figure be that of a woman or an artist or poet. Each poem aims to counter reality with the dream and to re-engineer the accepted image of the creative as ‘outlier’. Whether in terms of stylistic experimentation, influence or tribute, this book aims to upset normative modes of thought and glorify one’s creative faculty. The founder of Surrealism, Andre Breton, spoke much of how the imagination is seen as a threat to all dimensions of order, similarly, much of my work is concerned with consistently upending language, mass-perspective and received ideas.


On why I enjoy poetry as a genre and as my chosen form


A poet often writes a poem as a postscript to an emotion. ‘High tragedy’ or ‘wondrous joy’ need not compel the writing of verse, it could be a retained sense of childlike wonder for say an owl or the precise engineering of a pistol. I feel that I write primarily to escape a powerful inborn reticence. In that vein these words by the great James Joyce encapsulate perfectly the retaliatory bent of my mind as it stitches a sentence together; ‘poetry even when apparently most fantastic is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality’.

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