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 Muhammad Asad Ullah
Muhammad Asad Ullah
Muhammad Asad Ullah is one of the brightest new crop of journalists on the Doha scene. With a penchant for showbiz stories and a rover's eye on fashion. He's the whiz kid of the team with experience of both print and digital media.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Asifa and Nabeel u2013 a collection of successfully stepping out of their comfort zone and featuring perfectly structured ruffles.  Victory by Ali Xeeshan u2013 the colourful collection with easy structured designs.  Sapphireu2019s Totem featuring the off shoulder tops and flared pants in daring black and khaki.  Khaadi Khaas u2013 the modern twist to the cuts of vibrant hues and flowing silhouettes.  Sania Maskatiya u2013 a predictable line of sumptuous prints that is her signature.  Republic by Omer Farooqu2019s Paradox, taking inspiration from Japanese work-play balance using cotton, denim and a variety of silks.
Taking a bow: The best of Pakistan Fashion Week

The Pakistan Sunsilk Fashion Week shows have been a showcase of creativity and optimism, shaping people who are destined to shape the Pakistan fashion industry. Fighting melancholy with a flicker is a Lahore thing. Although Lahore has been facing major security crises lately, changing dates for Pakistan Sunsilk Fashion Week 2017 twice, PSFW17 dealt with optimism, defiance against the gloom this season. Rather than seething in dark hues, the designers lashing their collections with bold silhouettes and pastels with wild flight of bright pigments as the models walked down the pizzazz runway. Where PSFW17 ended with a feminine appeal to the clothes dominating organza and silk; here’s a rundown to the Top 6 collection which went down the fashion aisle – in the sequence of the three days of fashion. Sania Maskatiya presents Sania Studio Sania presented a line of sumptuous prints that is her signature. Where her strength lies in how she doesn’t go completely western; her summer jackets, high waist jumpsuits and those bold silhouettes with floral patterns in crimson, beige and some serious blues, the sharply tailored pieces are a winner in our warm climes. Sapphire – Totem Well most of the people who have a presence on social media still remember the video of two women involved in a lunatic jousting, to stipulate – Yes! That was a lawn war at Sapphire’s store. This coveted high street brand lead by the quick-witted Khadija Shah – who has quite a good eye for what’s heading in the fashion business; featured a crazy fun or sophistication personified endearing spirit animals in daring black and khaki featuring the off shoulder tops and flared pants, the quality which makes her clothes worth it. Khaadi Khaas And variety was what the king of high street showed at the final day of PSFW17. Shamoon Sultan may not come out to take a bow, he never does, but his brand Khaadi Khaas was obtruding for putting out a fantastic cohesive collection of flowing silhouettes, a lot of red paisley with rich fabric and shimmering gold borders – the modern twist to the cuts of vibrant hues, their clothes are for everyone and Khaadi Khaas is here to stay and is very welcome! Asifa & Nabeel – A Silent Opera It won’t be erroneous to say for the duo Asifa and Nabeel it was a collection of successfully stepping out of their comfort zone featuring perfectly structured ruffles in organza and silk – the sharp cuts in pastels dominating the runway. The embellishments and details had the wow factor in spades. Republic by Omar Farooq He showcased, he conquered – but that’s what he usually does, because he’s capable of upstaging the mantra of menswear even if not his signature sedate collection. He brought his Paradox, taking inspiration from Japanese work–play balance using cotton, denim and a variety of silks to create structured silhouettes in primitive colours of black white and grey. He always knows how to translate well to retail and if you intend making a statement, his pieces will make you stand out all right. Ali Xeeshan Hues here and hues there, the colourful collection featuring shimmering gota ghararas and rich floral embroidery was a victory! Ali enhances the practicality of his dresses with the tiny hidden details that are flaunted on the runway as models sashay down the ramp. He pushes way to well the elegance trend with its easy structured designs, with sharp cuts and leave enough room to breathe easy in this dire summer.

MAESTRO:  Deepak Perwani at the launch of his opulent Bridal studio recently in Karachi.
“Fashion is a very fickle business”

Deepak Perwani is a contentious figure, alternatively loved and loathed depending on what he does with which person at which show, at what time — who he chooses over who else, who he sets back, who he builds, who he helps out and myriad other reasons that crop up frequently in an industry given to gossip and backbiting like no other.  It’s a place where everyone knows everyone else, people love and loathe yet cannot live with or without each other. And perhaps, at the very centre of all that has transpired in the history of the Pakistani fashion industry, there is Deepak Perwani.  Perwani, who started his label in 1994, is closing in on a quarter century of sustaining signature style and cuts. “The industry has grown out to be bolder, older, wiser and securer,” Deepak tells Community in an exclusive interview at his opulent studio, opened recently in Pakistan’s megapolis Karachi.  When he entered the industry, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin was a struggling model, who celebrated his silver jubilee as designer last year whilst Perwani still has two years to make that mark; however, you can’t but sit up and take notice. Deepak has an explanation for this, “I think what HSY basically meant was that he has completed 25 years in fashion in the period he was into choreography, modelling and I think he used to do television in those days as well. 1994 is when I started, so yeah different strokes for different folks.” This small town boy from Mirpurkhas has always made things happen. From designer to organising fashion shows to being an actor, Deepak has done it all. He has done shows in Pakistan, Miami and Milan, made Guinness World Record for largest Kurta in the world, served as Brand Ambassador for Special Olympics, raised funds for special children and worked tirelessly to bring new breed of designers in the industry as Chairperson of Fashion Pakistan Council.  While Deepak remembers quite well becoming aware of fashion for the first time when he was in New York, he considers fashion as a blank canvas.   “I became aware of fashion when I was really young. I remember being very fashionable when I was a kid. I had a pop swatch, Reebok tennis shows, neon friendship bands and the entire era of Boy George and Madonna for inspiration. Well that’s when baggy pants came out; it was a big deal to have them. It was all about the fact that whether you’re wearing two pleats or you’re wearing three pleats and then it became one pleat. Well, then I went to college in New York, and then used to merchandise for Maises and stuff like that. I was only 19 years old,” he recalls. “You’re the artist and you’ve got the paints and paint brush and you can paint what you like and that’s the beauty of this blank canvas of fashion,” he says.  Stella McCartney, for instance, might design clothes that are meant to last and pieces that aren’t going to get burnt, but Perwani picks a hole in the former’s mantra, somewhat agreeing to disagreeing, thinking fashion to be different for making it big in the industry.  “I think fashion is a very fickle business. Fashion designers are creative people and tend to be very sensitive. They tend to be bipolar. What really holds the power or the muscle is the design at the end of the day. Your respectability or strength or sustainability only comes from design. We believe in one thing and most designers understand that you’re only as good as your last collection. Anybody can come and take the throne next season. That’s what makes you a mover and shaker,” says Perwani.  “If we look at the dynamics of fashion, I used to think fashion regurgitates every decade but now it regurgitates after seven years. By that I mean same trends coming in again. Not just locally but even internationally, we’ve seen designers appear and disappear; sometimes you slow down, sometimes you’re tired — it’s all about sustaining creative design. That’s what makes you go forward,” says the ace designer. No matter how you may feel about him, if there’s someone who has attained a mark in Pakistani fashion, chances are he or she will have worked with Deepak Perwani. And when he organises a fiesta like Fashion Pakistan Week, they all come. About introducing new breed of designers since the time he has joined fashion industry, he says, “I’ve been trying to introduce as many designers as I can for a long time now. Pretty much every successful label right now — Amna Aqeel, Nauman Arfeen, Zaheer Abbass, Sania Maskatiya, Deepak n Fahad, Adnan Pardesy, Sanam Chaudhry — it’s a long list! We’re very proud we managed to put young designers, gave them space, importance and just everything to shine.” Although he is one of the few powerhouse menswear designers in Pakistan, who comes up with an entire men’s wear collection every season rather than just few pieces, Perwani has not been nominated for the Lux Style Awards for quite a few years now whilst many young designers with only a few jackets to their credit are up for nomination. “We don’t submit our nominations to Lux Style Awards. We have seven Lux Style Awards — a record for winning the most awards as a designer. We’re kind of done. It’s rather like agree to disagree. We need to believe in system and system needs to revolve and evolve. I’m not going to say (it’s about) nepotism but it’s redundant. If you say your award is credible, the award must also evolve and redefine itself every decade. You cannot put a young and very senior designer in one space and insult one,” Perwani contends. While designers have been busy producing and designing lawn for loyal shoppers for the past few years, including Perwani, we are glad to take a break from the lawn fever and have something new to hear about. This ultimate Capricorn Goat, who is a master at multitasking has not forethought about running into lawn wars this season, keeping an interest towards luxury lawn because, according to him, lawn people are generally in a hurry, they might have come to the domestic market for lawn but their mentality still lingers for “kapra market” (cloth market), just to sell the cloth. “We did lawn eight years ago. I don’t take credit for it but I think why Orient Textile Mills is Orient Textile Mills is because of Deepak Perwani, which was a great collaboration and as label, we did wonders for each other. I’ll be honoured to say they were the best people to work with.”  Also making a successful debut in television dramas as an actor with Kadoorat in 2013 alongside Sanam Saeed and Soteli in 2014 alongside Sabreen Hisbani, Perwani feels he would have been an actor if not a designer.  “If I wouldn’t have been a designer, I would’ve been an actor. I’m a very decent actor — at least that’s what I’m told. Taking part in all those dance competitions during my school times, I also did a biscuit ad when I was a kid.” Talking about his education, he says, “Well till about three years ago, I was very proud of the fact that I was a college dropout, but hey I’ve graduated! I’ve done BBA in Marketing and Advertising.”  Where Deepak Perwani has launched his online store for Doha buyers after doing a show at Pakistan Fashion Week Doha, he concludes, “It’s very important to be a force to reckon with.”

Nida Azwer opened the finale with all white, beige and grey ghararas, saris, dupatas and ajkans featuring Sindhi embroidery; The out-of-place stitching and fittings by Munib Nawaz made his collection off-putting AND The bold, the beautiful, the modern, the young and happening by Sonya Batla.
The cut and dash of Fashion Pakistan Week 2017

Slouchy and chic are no longer polar opposites on the style scale. Designers have combined the two to create a balanced look that is effortlessly chic – carefree and elegant at the same time. On the runway of Fashion Pakistan Week 2017 (FPW), designers, panjandrums and newcomers alike once again gave the look their stamp of approval with their unique iterations of the style. Living legends just don’t go out of style. Frieha Altaf pulled it off with aplomb. It was definitely more orderly and why not – it was councils 10th anniversary celebration.  Choreography by Frieha, PR by Take II and organised by Karachi Fashion Council, the FPW was the trailer of what’s coming next – the retail revolution that will propel the business of fashion forward. One always finds fashion weeks in Karachi more relaxing than the ones in Lahore. It’s the uncanny vibe of the place. Well, fashion has historically been a tale of two cities in Pakistan – Karachi and Lahore, and there has been intense competition between the two. From the glory days of the style mafia in Pakistan and the tension between the designers who supported either/or, fashion has clearly established two centres in Pakistan – one in Karachi, which has been historically, and the other in Lahore. Yes, Pakistani fashion began in Karachi and how they love to throw it in Lahore’s face.  The Day 1 of FPW was a day of meagre highs and many lows. The skilled Ayesha Farook Hashwani opened the show with her La Plage collection, which was a deft display of bold embellishments, vibrant hues of sky, marine and sun. She was the only designer who lived up to her label’s puffery, since its always exciting making a comeback on the runway after years. If there’s one designer who went out celebrating the summer in this fashion season, it’s Ayesha, whose bold silk prints and myriad of cuts against bright hues screamed summer, rather than whispering softly like the pastel pieces by other designers on the ramp. From her cocktail dresses to pants and tunics, all popped with the interplay of vivid colour and design.  Zaheer Abbass’s blue sari on Sana Javed was a treat – he added his candy eyes and aesthetics to the wardrobes, and kudus for it boy! The other designer who outshined the fickle fashion business was Tooba Chottani. She’s Zainab Chottani’s kinswoman and it would seem the ingenuity with finesse runs in the family. A dash of the unexpected was added to every conventional sartorial style – sheer skirts underneath oversized cape jackets with a mix of prints, and surprising detailing created an otherworldly vision unlike other designers showcasing on Day 1. And now the disappointment starts. Arsalan Iqbal’s collection offered hardly anything new in the tones of brown, black and grey. Humayun Alamgir featuring Ayaash with severe sequined and blingy brocade jackets were horrendous.  Doing nothing for his clothes, nothing for the audience and nothing for the fashion week,  Nauman Arfeen’s collection was in the line for disappointment. With luxe being the order of the day, the weakest collection to look at on Day 1 of FPW was Nauman Arfeen. The outfits, while way better than most showed that day, just did not have “it”. Nauman Arfeen’s Wild Wild Vest was way out of time-space paradigm, his collection failed to come up to the bar he has set for himself. Our only guess is that as one of the members of FP, he was too busy with the week to get down to designing.  Fashion weeks are an exhausting business for anyone involved enough to be working full time on them. Behind the plethora of pictures, red carpet razzmatazz and general all round brouhaha, is hours, days, months of work and a ton of blood, sweat and tears.  The pioneers, fashion superstars, debut makers, luxury kings and queens and ready-to-wear gurus were all spot on on Day 2 of Fashion Pakistan Week 2017. This is what ideally every day at every fashion week should be like. How exciting it is to witness a young gun backed up with a killer collection. Nida Azwer opened the day with all white, beige and grey ghararas, saris, dupatas and ajkans paired in the exquisite organza and silk featuring the traditional Sindhi embroideries of mirror work, bead work, rilli craft and Hurmich. It was a fabulously chic and clean collection by a designer who loves fashion. This is exactly what happens when a textile designer takes over the ramp.  Under the British Council mentorship programme for local designers, Fashion DNA featured capsule collections by Zuria Dor, The Pink Tree Company, Jeem, Sonya Battla, Munib Nawaz and Gulabo. Nazia Hassan’s song in the background outshined The Pink Tree Company’s collection of emerald, greens, sun kissed orange and the turquoise silks.  The comfortable and smart off shoulder shirts and pants for women teamed with shorts and cargos by Sonya Batla were perfect to show where the fashion scene in Pakistan is heading to.   The other fashion house that is all set to rock this season, like always, is Gulabo by Maheen Khan. Her statement signature and floral prints was a quintessential inspiration of the hippie movement of 60s and 70s. Maheen once again wowed with a proper ‘show’ in every sense of the word with a very impressive fashion week collection. The designer brought her feminine, quirky floral aesthetic to clothes that should fly off the shelves from her many stores. Easy slip dresses that could double as tunics, pants, crop tops, it was a winner! From DNA showcase, well what we couldn’t understand was Munib Nawaz’s collection, those stitching out of place with gruesome fittings. Now only if he would get his act together and think finishing with attention to detail, he would be well on his way.  Deepak Perwani, the rousing man of fashion, made a strong come-back after his previous Fix It collection with well-made clothes and a zany style aesthetic. With minimal embellishment, lace, crystals and shades of blue waters and morning sky, his dresses are to die for and the man knows how to create the most well-fitted pants. We loved the crazy ones on Mehreen Syed, teamed with a simple lace off shoulder top! The day belonged to Deepak Perwani for the blue suits he made his boys run with on the ramp, the colour of beech to the ramp via a series of delicious pieces.  The Fashion Pakistan Council celebrated its 10 years in style with the most renowned fashion designers of Pakistan sharing the ramp, showcasing their masterpieces through an exclusive 10 year celebration grand finale featuring the collections by HSY, Bunto Kazmi, Sana Safinaz, Amir Adnan, Shamaeel Ansari, Umar Sayeed, Maheen Khan and Nomi Ansari. Although we’ve seen all the collections showcased at finale before at different fashion weeks but it, without much ado, was patently overwhelming to see the faces of Pakistan Fashion Industry together. There could not have been a better finale than this to the most fashionable day of Fashion Pakistan Week 2017.

Saba Qamar sizzles the stage at Q-Mobile HUM Style Awards with Zahid Ahmed.
HUM Style Awards – a night of recognition and glamour

The Pakistani fashion industry is blooming. Take one look at some of the leading designers and events happening in the country and anyone will agree. Shehla Chatoor has broken new ground with her intricate cuts and remarkable fabric. And the Lahore-based Republic By Omar Farooq is becoming synonymous with bespoke. There has never been such a wide variety of fashion sensibilities in the country before and events such as Q-Mobile HUM Style Awards are a sharp turn to where the booming fashion industry is headed. Just before Q-Mobile HUM Style Awards goes on-air, Community gives an insider view of what went on the glitzy stage of celebrities. Even though the event featured talents exclusively from the Pakistani music industry, the spot-on choreography and sizzling performances made one wonder why Nida Butt had not taken the charge long before. Hosted by the new face of the Pakistani film industry, Ahmed Ali Akbar, the evening was a wonderful mesh of many elements. The script did fail at times, as some hosts went on impassive, mindless banter that wasn’t even remotely funny – at these times it seemed like the hosts had forgotten they were on stage and spoke as if they were having a mundane conversation somewhere. Other hosts of the evening, Adnan Malik, Aamina Sheikh and Ayesha Omar did do a good job; but it was Ahmed, the new boy in town, who left others far behind. It won’t be erroneous to say that the opening and closing acts are the primary tools to gauge the success of any event, and the Q-Mobile HUM Style Awards did not disappoint. The Zalima duo, Umair Jaswal and Meesha Shafi (who also took away the award for Most Stylish Female Performer), shook a leg with a perfect first-ever performance. It was a fantastic night of racy performances – some of them a lot of fun, like Saba Qamar’s rise to dance and those thumkas even after a wardrobe malfunction. The girl’s got confidence. Patently, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin’s performance obtruded on stage with a musical tribute, flashing back to the 90s with Nazia Hassan’s music. However, tribute and flashbacks are very old concepts now and have lost steam even in the West. It raises concern that limits are not being crossed, boundaries are not being broken and we are not thinking outside the box in terms of such tribute performances. And then, the truck art jacket by Rizwan Beig, the one Ali Zafar was wearing during his performance with Sohai Ali Abro, was the only on-spot thrill in that performance. The retail industry has really upped its game since 2010. It was that year when Pakistan truly welcomed ready-to-wear with open arms. Generation could have really taken the trophy for the category of Retail Brand of The Year – their stitching, cuts and fabric are all fantastic and their prices make them a coveted designer for every working woman. But the award went to Sapphire, the brand that really got the retail ball rolling. It wasn’t really the best choice for the winner this year.  Lawn jorras (dresses) are the talk of town during the summers and lawn has come into its own over the last few years, bringing into limelight with it the importance of textile industry in Pakistan. Khadija Shah has expansion on her mind, and she owns what she does. No one puts the kind of effort she does into her fabric or campaigns; and the loyalists keep coming back for the quality, not caring about the stampedes at venues around Pakistan. In this lawn wars, Khadija Shah walked away with the trophy for Elan. Men’s fashion has seen a convivial and an off-centre take thanks to Munib Nawaz and Nauman Arfeen, while Amir Adnan is the go-to designer for everyday eastern wears. Yet there’s no denying the sharp tailoring that comes from Republic by Omar Farooq, which brought international cuts to the fore in Pakistan. He has done tremendously well for men’s wear and him walking away with the trophy yet again was not a surprise at all. Hannan Siddique has shown he’s an all-rounder with his prowess over hair and makeup and he took the trophy for Best Hair and Makeup home. But can newer entrants like Hannan beat out the beauty titans Toni & Guy and Nabila? The Fashion Photographer of the Year category had a mix of photographers who have perfected their own style. Shahbaz Shazi gets bigger and better every year and his claim to the trophy is inarguable. But Abdullah Haris has given us some great conceptual shoots with a boho feel and could also have been a winner. Well not this time. Never mind. The recognition award for styling was presented to Nabila, and the one for designing to Bunto Kazmi. The most stylish film actor male and female awards were bagged by Humayun Saeed and Mahira Khan, respectively. Mahira wore an off-shoulder Rizwan Baig Sarri, slaying it well and showing us why she’s the most graceful actress of our times. It was a double triumph for Faraz Mannan, who bagged the Best Bridal award again after Lux Style Awards. Amna Baber brings a sexy appeal to the ramp that only she can with her exotic features, full pout and piercing gaze. Standing tall by her side is the dead ringer for Jake Gyllenhall, Shehzad Noor – the two took home the best male and female model awards. Glitz and glamour was one of the centrepieces of HUM Style Awards, and the best stylish television actor went to one of the most dressed out star of the evening, Hamza Ali Abbasi. Syra Yusuf won the best stylish television female actor award. While the show lacked the presence of some major stars of the Pakistani entertainment industry –Fawad Khan, Sanam Baloch, Mehwish Hayat and Bushra Ansari to name a few – HUM has patently raised the bar for acknowledging the fashion and entertainment of Pakistani industry.

DISTINCTION: Momina Mustehsan is credited with the highest ever release views for a debut single on Coke Studio and the only female vocalist there with three numbers to her name in one season!
“Trending on twitter for 4 days freaked me out”

When a 24-year-old, who professes to “singing a bit” cuts the coveted Coke Studio — Pakistan’s music chartbuster — teeth with 6.5 million views in just a few hours of the release of Afreen (remake of Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s famous number) alongside the current numero uno Rahat Fateh Ali Khan under the banner of Coke Studio Season 9, you can’t but sit up and take notice. Meet the new sensation with a naturally soulful voice: Momina Mustehsan. She would ideally be headed for resurgence two years after the release of her Bollywood debut single Awari in Ek Villain.   The most noticeable thing about Momina — apart from her presence — is that nearly everywhere she goes, she turns up more or less unattended, trailed all by herself. She doesn’t employ a manager or even a publicist. Momina has an explanation for this. “I don’t think releasing number of albums defines a musician. I do music for myself and not for the masses. I’m not into the idea of being a celebrity or having people know or follow me. Actually, when Afreen came out and I was the only person trending on twitter for four days in Pakistan, it freaked me out. I’m a very private person. Experience, I don’t think is only limited to the product released,” Momina tells Community in an exclusive interview at a reputed coffee joint in Pakistan’s picturesque capital Islamabad. Although settled in New York but keeping up with traditional Pakistani wear in a serene green kurti and sipping cold coffee, Momina is keeping her fingers crossed about making it big in the Pakistani music industry with Coke Studio. Her last song released was Awari for Sidharth Malhotra and Shraddha Kapoor’s Bollywood starrer Ek Villain in 2014, but who knew Afreen would foment her as the new sensation of the Pakistani music industry. Despite the brassy work that speaks for Momina herself, some critics called hers an unfair hype for not contributing to the actual tenor of the song but just appearing in the video with few lines in pocket. To this, Momina responds calmly: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I did notice many people talked about my smile, but honestly I didn’t even realise I was smiling during the shoot. I was extremely nervous because I had never rehearsed and had never heard the song before — I mean the new track, the way it was.” Being the youngest lead singer to have performed three songs in Coke Studio Pakistan this season, Momina surprised herself with the nuances — otherwise a unique distinction in the industry. “I’m honoured being the only female lead to do three songs at the Coke Studio — something, I didn’t really expect doing,” she says. Ever since Momina’s phone just doesn’t stop ringing. Asked to compare the Pakistani music industry with its Indian counterpart, a philosophical Momina said while she admired Bollywood, “I would definitely say Coke Studio is right up there because Indian music industry is just all about Bollywood. It’s mostly commercial music and they do a good job of it. In Pakistan however, the uniqueness is that everything is not very commercial. At Coke Studio, we experiment with the music and explore different genres with a lot of fusions.” Despite Pakistani musicians and actors making their mark in Bollywood over time, there appears to be no real initiative for joint ventures, especially with different genres of music on both sides of the border. Asked why, Momina puts it down to politics holding back such explorations. “I think majorly, it’s to do with politics. We have been in such an environment for so long that when a Pakistani goes and works in Bollywood or vice versa people seem to get offended,” the starlet opines. However she adds, “There is collaboration on some level depending upon the platform you’re talking about because in India, it’s all about Bollywood and, in Pakistan, we don’t have much to offer, Bollywood-like.” Sometimes a single performance sets the standards and all subsequent performances pale in comparison no matter how hard one tries. Asked if she’ll be able to outdo Afreen, Momina avows that her best is yet to come. “I wasn’t even supposed to do that song. I found out about it just a few days before it was to be shot and the other two main songs that I did are definitely different. The song I did with Shujja Haider might outdo Afreen. I personally enjoyed singing it. But it depends if it will get the same media attention because with Afreen there were a lot of different elements that made it a success,” explains Momina, adding, “First it was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Sahab’s song and it was already a huge hit; then, it was Rahat Fateh Ali Khan rendering the number, and the arrangement for the last was really nice. I only sang literally, six lines in it. So my contribution wasn’t much, but as far as my work goes, I do have much better to offer.”   It won’t be erroneous to say Momina has inherited the ingenuity of vocals which comes naturally to her from her mother, who indeed has a melodic voice. Momina credits her success to both her parents. She also hopes to bring about a change in the perception that the female of the species rarely make it good in the industry. “Yes, you don’t have many female musicians around. I have done a Bollywood song before and it’s not that I haven’t got offers before, it’s just that I don’t want to pursue music as a career. For me, it was hard to make a decision since I had no references. Maybe after me, people would come out to show their talent,” enthuses Momina. Momina is planning to move back to New York, away from stardom soon whilst initiating an education programme for children in rural Pakistan along with a polio campaign. “I plan introducing distant education plans for children in rural areas where there are no schools or a learning environment. We’ll introduce learning videos which, along with projectors, would be provided to the mosques in different areas to enable children to learn. From making rotis to learning physics, they’ll get it all,” she says, with profound intonation. In conclusion, Momina thanked all her fans for their love and support. “I would like to thank you all for being extremely supportive since the time of (her single) Pee Jaun and now, Coke Studio. Please keep backing us and let’s make this world a better place! For Pakistanis living abroad, I know you miss home — so stay tuned to Coke Studio this season and regale in the fond memories of your homeland.”

GRAND ENTRANCE:  Ali Zafar enters the stage of LSA to host the night.
Putting Pakistan on the cultural map of the world

The recently held Lux Style Awards 2016 in Karachi, Pakistan could not live up to its puffery. But it still marked an occasion where Pakistan is heading to grasp the importance of stardust all too well and is happy to put out there, spending millions and planting itself on the cultural map of the world quite successfully. It won’t be erroneous to profess the awards as a source of recognition to all those who push themselves all year round, even as ascetics will say they do not mean much. Perhaps, this is why the awards are never considered a paradigm to success. Meanwhile where the jury was out, the judges were in and politics was indeed a surging sea undergoing stormy weather. The Lux Style Awards (LSA) collaborated with Frieha Altaf’s Catwalk for production, Nabila for Makeup and Farishteh Aslam of Talking Point for PR; Wall’s ice-cream brand Magnum was also involve, since you cannot put up grand shows without a sponsor. Things are happening in the Pakistan Entertainment and Fashion industry — but when you look at the rest of the world, it’s moving at a snail space. Still, to aptly employ a cliché, we’ve seen LSA grow from a hatchling to a swan. Let’s face it — LSA was a tiny show when it started more than a decade back where there were no films to celebrate at all. Entertainment needs hoopla and LSA pulled that off successfully, although LSA has sustained unfathomable setbacks such as half the audience walking out midway through the show and gates remaining closed till 10:45pm (when the time on the invitation card was 6pm!). The Lux Style Awards 2016 was a finale of not so rehearsed performances. The LSA you see on television is not the LSA on ground. From Fawad Khan’s flawless act to Ali Zafar’s not-so-perfect hosting stint with constantly announcing wrong categories and presenters with several re-takes, and Yasir Hussain’s witty sense of humour along with power packed performances — it was nice to see all coming together though. Those catchy double meaning of some of the verses had the audience in splits! The major issue of Lux Style Awards was the inept PR, drooling passes to the crowds and crowds — not entertainment and fashion people but crowds — who pushed and misbehaved. Then there was the strenuous delay in the shows and above all Farishteh Aslam herself, who unnerves you by not responding to your calls or queries. Lux Style Awards has been a platform of acknowledging those who have been putting themselves out there throughout the year with a focus on fashion, style and television. There was a time when there were no Pakistani films at all — but the ecstasy of chimera film production these days is a matter of eminent celebration at the award shows. With film categories it was predictable enough for Moor and Bin Roye to dominate the night. The Best Singer Male and Female was presented to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen, respectively for Bin Roye. The Best Film Director and Film of the Year award was taken away by Moor though. The Life Time Achievement Award was presented to the Late Amjad Sabri. Ali Zafar and Ali Sethi took the stage to deliver a powerful tribute to the Qawwali maestro, as Sabri’s son joined them on stage. Amjad Sabri left a mark on thousands of hearts, carrying a legacy of his late father Ghulam Farid Sabri and Uncle Maqbool Ahmed Sabri. Glitz and glamour is one of the centrepieces of LSA, but the Best Dressed Male Award went to one of the most dressed out star of the evening, Hamza Ali Abbasi, while the Best Emerging Talent award going to Alee Hassan Photographer was like a cherry on top. As far as I can remember, he’s the same photographer who did a shoot for L’Oreal makeup, reinventing the Disney princesses terribly. (Can you please reconsider this category?) And then for a mixed bag of entertainment — how dramatically Fawad Khan dropped Fauzia Aman’s award for the Best Model (Female) as a pun, and then how terrible it was to see a dwarf couple on stage as the butt of some ill-conceived joke. During a segment, Ayesha Khan was brought on stage with the announcement that her famously orphaned Mann Mayal character’s parents have been found. And in walked a little couple, as the punch line of that joke. Where the joke in that? Nabila bagged her 10th LUX Style Award — a tribute to the consistency and excellence with which she has developed the hair and makeup industry in Pakistan. It was a double triumph for Faraz Mannan who bagged Best Bridal and Best Lawn (After all Bebo — Kareena Kapoor Khan — is her brand ambassador!) while Abdullah Harris was the Best Photographer, who deserved much for putting out a dramatic and a boho feel to whatever he captures. The dwindling retail women’s wear brand Generation — started over three decades again by husband-wife duo Saad and Nosheen Rahman and recently taken over by their daughter Khadija Rehman — secured a win for itself for Achievement in Fashion Design (Pret). The new breeds of designers are far better at it than the old guard and these are new times for a new kind of designer. It was a fantastic night of racy performers, some of them a lot of fun — Sohai Ali Abro’s performance was by far the most rousing stage performance witnessed that evening. However, the most “dhuaandaar” (steamy) performance belonged to Mahira Khan who set the stage on fire as she arrived to move on her song from Bin Roye. The crowd went “woah!” The nominations may feel a bit dated with Sadqay Tumharay  still doing the rounds and taking away three awards in the Television Category, but the night belonged to the Raees actress Mahira Khan winning Best Actor (Female) Award for Television and Film along with Best Dressed Female at the night of glamour shebang. Where it was a long wait to Mahira’s performance, it was a joy to watch her perform effortlessly, with minor pre-rehearsals. She whirled and twirled — those jhatkas and thumkas! Kudus to Farieha Altaf and Team.

HOMAGE: Day 2 belonged to Zahid Khan from Kuki Concepts, beguiling the Taj of Agra in ensembles of Jamawar and Banarsi traditionals.     Photo by M Haris Usmani
Striking gold with the spectacular

A rousing fashion week from Karachi this season it was, in one way or another — about ardour through originality. The sturdy, clear-cut voices that obtruded in the melee of shows were from designers who dared to be themselves and thus offered clarity with choices.  Bridal Couture Week holds the reputation of being the most hip and happening affair of bridal bedecking trends and doing extremely well commercially for the designers.  Choreographed by Ketan Bhatia from New Delhi with PR by Body Beats and HUM PR, Bridal Couture Week(BCW)-Gold Edition was organised by HUM Network. Every fashion week needs a neoteric and Fahad Hussayn pulled that off on Day 1, playing with a lot of vivid maroon, yellow and blue. Fahad caters to the mass appeal and knows how to put on a show. He flaunted extraordinary ghararas and sherwanis swathed gotta, chatta — patti and zardozi — work. Some of it was really nice, others were a miss.  Mansoor Akram and Erum Khan showcased their fine bridals featuring long dresses and lehnga chollis. Where the former brought white-on-white collection on ramp, highlighting the idea of purity of marriage with gotta work and silver wire, Erum Khan was a mesh of East meets West in the hues of tea pink, green, grey and beige paired with floral printed silk and matte off-white sherwanis, (which was all about jewel toned, luxe clothes with a boho feel to them!)  In a time where the fashion industry is visualising the future — how do we present clothing and what’s next? — it helps to see a designer who’s already here. Mohsin Naveed Ranjha (MNR) showed one of the most luring collection under his brand to date, filled with pieces in a palette of copper and brown. Although her showstopper Humaima Malick’s duppata seemed to be inspired by Republic Women’s Wear pieces (the one Sadaf Kanwal wore last year at PLBW), Rubya Chaudhry’s look with the bindi on that forehead was so strong that one felt that that was the train of thought he could have carried on with. But then MNR is MNR.  While Tabbasum Mughal keeps herself in the headlines with her designer tantrums and mistreatment of clients, it won’t be erroneous to call her latest lawn collection an eastern duplication of Dolce and Gabbana’s Rose Collection (awkward!). Lehngas, shararas and fishtail gowns embellished with roses in blues and maroons in silk and net weren’t something to look forward from the designer. Games of Thrones is a famous series worldwide, but its inspiration on the ramp wasn’t something understandable. The ‘GOT’ soundtrack and spiked Viking-inspired hairdos faded the serious business of fashion.  Lights, camera, action … and television; the power of small screen is undeniable, giving BCW a great commercial appeal, whilst offering little value for thoroughbred fashion enthusiasts. It won’t go down as the best of Bridal Couture Weeks. Business is tough and designers are exhausted.  Where Day 1 line-up failed to impress, Day 2 got BCW’s groove back with a breath of fresh air and bright spots.  Designers Neeta Lulla and Tarun Tahiliani for London’s leading multi-brand store Bibi London opened the show with Ethnic Indian Wears in pinks and oranges, whisking vintage and contemporary designs.  Deepak & Fahad showed what masters of design they are, giving prominence to regal pure zari and zardozi bridals. They opened with Rubya Chaudhry in a sexy one red piece (let’s call it a hot gown) that fully embraced traditional grandeur, and ended with Hareem Farooq in a gorgeous white and gold long shirt paired with a traditional lehnga.  Zainab Chottani closed Day 2 with a collection featuring modern Pakistani bride in shararas to gowns and harem pants. The collection mused in the shades of silver, blue and white. We’ve seen Zainab Chottani doing wonders playing around, and this wasn’t the best she could come up with on the ramp.  Day 2 belonged to Zahid Khan of Kuki Concept — beguiling the audience with the Taj of Agra, which was all based in fiery ensembles of banarsi and jamawaar traditional lehngas, long shirts and saris paired with tila, dabka, gota here and there, shawls and lachas in colours worth the shop for mehndi outfits for women, and jackets, dhoti and turbans for men.  The third and final day of BCW was the most magnificent. Karachi turned out in full force for the three beloved Karachi designers, Emran Rajput, Amir Adnan and, of course, the grand finale that showed the populist strength and showmanship of Sonya Battla.  Amir Adnan’s flags flew. Celebrities strode out in Amir Adnan’s short jackets, red khullahs, black sherwanis and three-piece sherwani suits paired with Jodhpur pyjamas. Where Amir Adnan walked out of his comfort zone on FPW 16, this Ceremony Collection was exactly his playing field for what he’s known for. The other highlight was him accenting 12+ celebrities for his showcase, from Hassan Sheryar Yasin to Javed Sheikh — it was a star studded affair.  There are few names known for their men’s wear cuts and Emran Rajput is one of them — making a name for himself with the cuts and styles he has to offer. Rajput’s was a men’s wear capsule collection showcasing bespoke sherwanis and waistcoats while getting traditional with shawls and kullahs.  Battla is known for her minimalistic approach and Western silhouettes. Her finale for the night was all about black, beiges and off-whites driving frills and layers – indeed straying true to her signature.  Day 3 was dominated by Karachi designers but one Lahori designer, Asifa & Nabeel and one retail brand Rang Ja (who made a debut in Bridal Wears) were awe-inspiring, seizing the centre of attention. The evening wears and bridals by the duo Asifa & Nabeel showed perhaps the best-fitted trousers at fashion week. The designers used contrasting shades of mauve, purple and grey to create opulent gowns and ghagras. They can easily boost the fashion cred of their brand to new heights. Where there is such talent, there needs to be an equally strong will to find a way. Rang Ja’s Bridal line-up was all about movement in vibrant tones and ethnic cuts showcasing shalwar kameez, sexy knee length skirts and lehnga choli — ideally suited for a pre-wedding functions like dholak and mehndi. Rang Ja was in the mood to party. There were a slew of flirty black sequels, finely embroidered and rocker chic looks held together by intricate metallic work for girls who just want to have fun. It is their spirit that makes the fashion world go round.  One last highlight of Bridal Couture Week–Gold Edition’s finale was a walk by the cast of drama serial Udaari, which took to the ramp to create awareness about child abuse. Udaari has raised the bar for highlighting the sensitive issue in such a subtle way that one cannot stop praising the makers.

TOP SHOTS: The night belonged to Diyar e Dil. Maya Ali and Osman Khalid Butt receive their award for Best Actor Female and Male, respectively.        Photos by M Haris Usmani
Entertainment pitch must be matched by substance

HUM Awards, one of Pakistan’s most coveted TV entertainment shows, held its fourth edition recently with the glitterati in full attendance. The most beguiling cogitated golden statue of Pakistan was hosted in Karachi early this week after a triumphant show in Dubai last year. To aptly employ a cliché, we’ve seen Pakistan television industry grow from a hatchling to a swan. From the legendary Nadeem Baig, Samina Pirzada and Behroz Sabzwari to a new breed ruling television screens not only in Pakistan but across the border as well: Mahira Khan, Sanam Saeed and Hamza Ali Abbassi to name a few, it was a star studded affair with a mixed bag of entertainment. The long lines of traffic which patently took everyone hours just to enter the venue was a sweeping snag for the management to start the show past two hours of the timeline. From sophisticated and subtle humour of the hosts to the jhatkas and matkas of Lollywood beauties on Bollywood hit numbers, HUM reinforced its image of family entertainment sans crass content. Although Hamza Ali Abbassi and Ayesha Khan didn’t quite cut it with their on-stage chemistry, Ahmed Ali Butt held the fort again with his humour after performing to singer Taher Shah’s Angel at the ARY Film Awards in Dubai earlier this month. Hamza attempted to crack several jokes that were met mostly with silence from the audience, and Ayesha looked like she would rather be somewhere else. Due to technical glitches, the Awards did not run as smoothly as expected since the start when supermodel and actress Nadia Hussain took over the stage to announce the Best Male and Female model. Although actress Sohai Ali Abro — dressed in a vintage orange lehnga choli — is a really good dancer, it’s nearly impossible to follow Deepika’s ethereal Bajirao act. Not the best idea to have tried. Where many bristle at Bollywood hit numbers in a Pakistani award show, may be there’s a need to rethink if the home industry has produced music worth the award show this year (until now, that is).   One could always censure why Lollywood must dance to Bollywood’s tunes but there is no denying the latter’s influence in the Pakistani pop culture and more so in the entertainment arena. Where actors Ahsan Khan and Mehwish Hayat are considered regular when it comes to performing, the latter chose Pakistani songs from the hit film Bin Roye to perform a duet with top actor Humayun Saeed. For Mahira Khan — the only mother to have played the female lead in both Indian (Raees) and Pakistani (Ho Mann Jahan and Bin Roye) films — it was much harder to match the grace she offers on-screen. The final dance performance of the evening was by Mawra Hocaine, the latest Pakistani entrant in Bollywood (Sanam Teri Kasam), with her sister Urwa. Introducing the film category awards, it was predictable enough for Humayun Saeed and Mahira Khan to win the award for Bin Roye — produced under the banner of HUM itself —whilst sharing the award with Sarmad Sultan Khoosat for Manto and Sania Saeed for Manto as well. Mahira won the honours for Diyar-e-Dil — like she had the previous year for Sadqe Tumhare.  Diyar-e-Dil had received critical acclaim worldwide winning 12 awards out of a total of 21 in television category, the most for the ceremony, including, Best Drama Serial – Jury; Best Drama Serial – Popular; Best Director, Best Actress – Popular; Best Actor – Jury; Best Actor – Popular; Best Supporting Actor; Most Impactful Character; Best Writer; and Best Original Soundtrack. That said, HUM Network needs to revamp the merit for nominations and jury selections. There endure many prominent names who performed superfluous characters. Maya Ali’s and Osman Khalid Butt’s stars appear set in motion. From being a show host to honing acting skills over the years, the former might have exhibited determination, but she still needs to achieve finesse. Although she won the Best Actress Award (Popular), when you watch the show, you find her expressions are pretty much one-dimensional. On the other hand, Osman Khalid Butt, who has done theatre and is known for the parody videos he started on YouTube, gels well with the character he portrays. As for Best Actor (Jury) who else could have won it but the man for all seasons: Meekal Zulfiqar. It was the last award of the evening, presented by Mahira Khan. Among the litany of beautiful Pakistani actresses who sashayed down the red carpet dressed in their finest, Syra Yusuf was imposing. Dressed in a deep blue Shehla Chatoor gown, the actress was at her best. Despite making her presence felt on either side of the border, Mahira Khan couldn’t create magic with Feeha Jamshed’s black-on-black and if you remember the recent Filmfare cover featuring Alia Bhatt and Fawad Khan — Humaima wore the Elan pink couture – (the one Alia Bhatt wore) with a head tight ponytail (a super turnoff hon!) Still over all, as an entertainment network, Hum TV managed to effectively demonstrate its understanding of the market and its viewer’s tastes.

Deepak Perwani opened with his u201cFix Itu201d Collection, as an ode to Karachi.
Fashion Pakistan Week 2016, a mix of ups and downs

It’s all moving so fast now that there’s no room to flake out – shape up or ship out. If you have what it takes, no one can take it from you, and if you unfortunately don’t, no one can put it on you. The oozing allure and grandeur of Fashion Pakistan Week 2016 (FPW) kicked-off lambently with designers illustrating their latest collections and awe-impelling fashion ruffles plodded over for months. In collaboration with TDAP (Trade Development Authority Pakistan), PR by Take-II, and organised by Karachi Fashion Council, the FPW was a revelation as to where it’s heading as the business of fashion gets real. Fashion needs hoopla and Maheen Khan of Gulabo pulled that off on Day 1 with her ending, playing with a lot of vivid reds and black and white incorporating a concept of wearable collection that was cohesive and well-accessorised. With modern silhouettes, Gulabo featured jumpsuits, plated flared pants and crop tops. Maheen Khan’s collection was the only one from Day 1 of FPW 16 that could live up to its puffery — the first day of the fashion week sustained such unfathomable respites that half the audience walked out mid-way through the show. Designers before Maheen Khan couldn’t put forward their best foot on the ramp either — fashion wise. Deepak Perwani opened the night with his “Fix It” collection, as an ode to Karachi — opening with off shoulder silhouettes in the floral prints and pink; the embellished “Fix It” motifs on jackets, trousers and overcoats was something new coming from the designer house, but he just added four new outfits to a collection he had previously showcased at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week- Lahore (awkward!). It won’t be erroneous to call Deepak a wiz and Karachi as his playing field, but FPW wasn’t an impeccable count for the designer this time. The two textile brands Kayseria and Lala also showcased, but not creating the necromancy expected of them. Where Lala tried to create a terrible mesh of East and West, Kayseria tilted more towards the Bridal Couture featuring ghagras and shalwar kameez in lighter tones with duppata on head. Why waste time of the audience, when you’re not even able to understand the protuberant line between prêt wears and formals? Consider the question please! Wardah Saleem is another very welcome addition to the fashion world. After a hugely successful DNA London show, the fabric lover has taken a plunge into fashion featuring mini-skirts and overcoats with florescent prints in a fine colour scheme paired with hand-painted bonzer bags, in collaboration with Jafferjees. This girl has a crisp that presented a rare, plushy collection coagulating marvellously on the runway. FPW started on a low note; but a fashion journalist has a responsibility not to crib over what’s being showcased — and to sit back and review later. A voice coming from the editor of a renowned newspaper was quite surprising and a turn-off: “How terrible it feels to sit and watch the crammed shows put on the runway that faded the serious business of fashion when you’ve spent the previous weekend interviewing SRK.” You don’t say that, bespectacled journalist! You cannot compare fashion with entertainment unless you’re there just to pick up the front-row placed courtesy bags and not even attend the entire day one line-up. A runway show is undoubtedly an icing on a multi-layered cake and the applause the cherry on top. There are so many designers and ideas that a day where everything is perfect is almost impossible. FPW got its groove back with a breath of fresh air on Day 2, with some collections that shined like a beacon. That said, I did not particularly care for Zaheer Abbass’s “White on White” collection. The collection was feminine with superb western cuts paired with layering, keeping it simple with sunglasses and necklace wears — he is one designer who does fierce very well, but this was certainly not him, not something Zaheer Abass could come up to the ramp with. Jafferjees showed what a master of design they are, celebrating 135 years in business. In collaboration with Wardah Saleem, they came up with a flashback to vintage trends featured travel bags, briefcases and purses with bold maroon for men and brown for women. The best thing about Jafferjees is that you get all they showcase on the ramp in their stores. Gul Ahmed is as exciting when it comes to prints as Sania Maskatiya or Deepak Perwani — but losing owns comfort zone wasn’t really an idea worth the venture for the brand. Multi-coloured Sindhi embroidery here and pom-pom accessories with chunri pants and chappals there wasn’t something to look forward to from the retail brand. Their shalwar kameez’s have been really lovely, smart, sassy, modern, edgy yet awami — with prints catching attention and everything on spot since it started, but the loss of identity was right there this time, more “Rang Ja” in nature. In perhaps the biggest and best FPW success story from Day Two, Amir Adnan and Huma Adnan presented a stunning collection, their best yet. Letting go of his signature designs of sherwanis (particularly bridal wears) the former got out of the box, giving a feel of freedom featuring three-piece suits, shin-length trousers paired with layered kurtas with “Escape” for men. With a whole new level of crafty silhouettes, with the use of cotton for prêt wear in the shades of blue, beige and white, Huma Adnan stole the show meshing the desi inside of us with cropped waistcoats and embroidered shalwars that looked like a million dollars, easy breezy and wearable with many a standout pieces. What was on display was masterful and truly one of a kind. The final day of FPW 16 was the most significant. Karachi turned out in full force to support the retail brands – Generation and Alkaram and, of course, the grand finale that unveiled the populist energy maestro force of Shamael Ansari playing with a lot of red, brown and yellow. The day opened with Attiya Khan in a hot brown cinched waistline and flared pants and ended with Zhallay Sirhadi featuring her sumptuous exquisite drama inspired by Japanese craftsmanship. Although Alkaram showcased nothing new but digital prints paired with western silhouettes, the off-shoulder tops and jumpsuits in black, beige and white with floral prints and geometrical designs played easy for the brand – setting trends for summer rage. Generation is a retail women’s wear brand working for more than three decades now. Envisioned by husband-wife duo of Saad and Nosheen Rahman, the brand conquered the three nights of runway with the duo’s daughter Khadija’s debut collection “A dot that went for a walk.” Generation still gives every women’s wear retail brand a run for their money, Khaadi even. Featuring dorri embroidery with boho-chic appeal in cotton with beautiful hues of tea pink, green, blue and white was a new sexy identity for eastern wear. Where many people go for Khaadi these days, believe me, the designs Khaadi is producing today were exactly featured twenty years back by Generation. There could not have been a more perfect collection that this to the most fashionable day of Fashion Pakistan Week 2016.

Hareem Farooq has made a statement with her successful transition from theatre to TV and films.
Sky the limit for ‘new sensation’

The theatre actress, who made her television debut with Urdu 1’s drama serial Mere Humdum Mere Dost and later shot into prominence with premier entertainment channel Hum TV’s Mausam — both in 2014 — was recently anointed as a ‘new sensation’ at Hum Awards Pakistan. The awards are an annual affair to recognise the talent of the television industry. While there’s no dearth of talent in the industry, it won’t be erroneous to list Hareem Farooq as one of a select few who have successfully made the transition from theatre to television whilst also making grounds in Pakistan film industry. The 25-year-old’s ethereal beauty and passion for acting paved the way for her to enter the film industry when she burst into limelight with renowned playwright Anwar Maqsood’s critically acclaimed Pawnay 14 August. That play was the scriptwriter’s first theatre play and Hareem’s acting prowess was appreciated by the audience even though she didn’t have the main role. Nowadays, she is busy with the second spell of Mehreen Jabbar’s Dobara Phir Se in Karachi which will be the director’s comeback to films after her debut flick Ramchand Pakistani (2008). Penned by Bilal Sami, the film features Hareem with Adeel Hussain and Sanam Saeed in the lead roles and looks to be a youthful movie, revolving around love, friendship and growing up.     “Parallel cinema, theatre, television or anything, as long as you’re confident about your talent and what you’re doing, you are always game to cut it,” says Islamabad’s Hareem, who is no stranger to the pages of local Pakistani newspapers in an exclusive interview with Community . Not delving too much into DPS, her forthcoming film after Siyaah, the actress appears confident of doing even better at parallel cinema. “It’s all about working hard. Whatever the platform, you have to give your hundred percent to excel, putting all your doubts to rest about how different one medium is from another,” says Hareem. The list of actors joining Bollywood industry is rising with every passing year. From heartthrob Fawad Khan, who won the Filmfare award for the Best Debut Actor Male in 2014 to awaiting his upcoming film Kapoor and Sons opposite Student of the Year stars Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra to Mawra Hocane, Pakistan’s latest export to Bollywood in Sanam Teri Kasam is something Hareem looks at with interest and optimism. “All of us as actors, producers or directors, I think would love to get a chance and work in a bigger industry than ours — it definitely broadens your vision. Many actors have been gaining experience and eventually putting that to good use back home,” she adds. Hareem however, thinks the sky is the limit. “Let’s just not restrict ourselves to Bollywood; we have actors who have worked in Hollywood as well.” When it comes to profile, only a few actors can boast that they have gone from theatre to making it big on television and cinema — Hareem is one. Nothing seems to faze the young actress, who’s humble about her versatility. “For me, theatre is like an addiction, once you’re on stage, you’re getting instant feedback. You have rehearsed for may be five to six months and your product of two hours is coming alive on stage that very moment. And when you get good feedback that’s the moment you’ve worked so hard for,” elaborates the young star. Although her first feature film Siyaah didn’t do well at the box office, it didn’t stop the actress from getting offers for local TV dramas. Ever since, she has only strengthened her position, churning out one commendable performance after another. “Theatre is a very good foundation for any actor to learn skills which are further enhanced when you’re on screen for television or film; in theatre, you have exaggerated body language than television or cinema.” The actress was clear from her childhood what she wanted to be. “From the very start, I knew I would be an actor, but couldn’t really figure out how it was going to happen. I was doing law when I got an opportunity to do theatre. I still remember the first time I stepped on stage and instinctively knew, this is what I wanted to do.” The Pakistani beauty stands out as a rare female lead who seems to have bucked the trend of appearing in revealing attire. In a highly commercialised industry many would consider that an achievement, but she concedes that the attire doesn’t really count once an actor is giving his or her best onscreen. Despite Pakistanis making their mark in Bollywood in the last few years, there appears to be no real initiative for joint ventures. Hareem is however, pleasantly surprised to know how much people in both the industries want to work together. “They have the resources, but we have an unmatched dedication to work — a reflection of which is how coveted our television serials are in India,” Hareem says. She heartily concedes to being a big fan of Pakistani star Mahira Khan, the only mother who has featured as the female lead in both Indian and Pakistani films. Hareem thanks all her fans in the Gulf who have been following her still young career. Responding to a question about how aspiring youngsters could also make the cut, she is unequivocal about the wages of hard work. “Work hard, keep your intentions true and never compare and envy others. Let your work speak for yourself!” She also has a word for Indians watching Pakistani TV plays. “Please keep loving and backing us and let’s make this world a better place as undoubtedly we’re the same people living on two sides of the border!”

Maya Ali and Osman Khalid Butt took the ramp by storm in Maria B.u2019s design.
Bridal Couture Week serenades enthusiasts

The biannual Bridal Couture Week known for being a tailor-made show for the Pakistani audience undoubtedly has grown into a parallel fashion week that triggers the latest in bridal trends. The recent Bridal Couture Week came to define the right niche of classical Pakistani bridals. Let’s get over the glitz and glamour spread of weddings. DAY -1 Hassan Sheharyar Yasin opened Day One with a collection of pastels and darker tones, combined with western silhouettes featuring heavily detailed gold work on velvet capes and jackets. It was another fashion week, another spot on show by Nickie Nina. The “Neh Shikar” collection by the duo was Rajput Rule inspired, featuring the traditional zardozai and thread work on velvet, chiffon, organza and jamawar. The use of Balochi tankas was a standout while the traditional cuts enhanced the collection. Aisha Imran’s collection “Heritage” was an ode to the city hosting the fashion week — Lahore. The breathtaking fusion of modern work and art with heavily embellished ghagras and lehngas paired with short cholis with dabka, goti and pearl work was a spell binding one. Shazia Kiyani (wannabe housewife-turned-designer) meanwhile came back on the Telenor Bridal Couture Week with a collection not to look forward to. The use of pure fabric in earthly hues with mukesh, hand embroidery and crystals couldn’t spread the magic of creativity on the ramp. The need of fashion education was right there while as fashion goes, it was average. Ziggy menswear is as exciting when it comes to men’s wear exclusivity as Republic by Omer Farooq or Ahmed Bhalm, and very different. Their collection of intricate Persian inspired Sherwanis went down easy. What was on display was masterful and truly one of a kind. Now the challenge is for the man behind Ziggi to translate that tremendous vision into a rack. DAY-2 Out of the designers who did the show on Day Two, it was Maria B and Rani Emaan who came out with the strongest statement. It was pure Pakistani traditional bridals translated in clothes that can be worn anywhere in the world and with that razzle dazzle so needed at a fashion week. Teena by Hina Butt tried to experiment with cuts and pairing quite unsuited for traditional bridals. Using lighter hues consisting of heavy necklines and floating gowns paired with off shoulder kameez, jacket and crop tops couldn’t turn the heads up except few noteworthy savvy silhouettes that went on ramp — like the one worn by her showstopper Uzma Khan — the yellow separates. With maroon, black and ivory on the palette, Humayun Alamgir was on ramp with an intense grooms wear collection. The “Shehnai” featured velvet sherwanis with gold work that didn’t show any groundbreaking trends but a sellable collection to do well commercially. Sobia Nazir made her ramp debut with the collection “Sar-I-Sang” inspired by the bolder look of today’s women featuring detailed heavy crystals, stones, pearls merged with thread work on pastel hues though her hero capes were not the right kind of cut for the bridals paired with a flat lehnga (so not voluminous) which turned out to be a total miss. Armeena Rana Khan walked the ramp for the designer in a fawn off shoulder top with a deep red lehnga which was overshadowed by the attitude and bubbly personality of the actress herself. The capital based designer  where fashion industry holds no importance, Rani Emaan is a really bright spark — perhaps, the biggest in the lot who doesn’t belong to the fashion cities of Karachi or Lahore. Her collection wowed us as they went on the runway. A mix of a love for Western fashion combining it with the desi lehngas make her a unique mix of exactly what a bridal fashion in Pakistan needs. The most breathtaking showcase for Day Two was of Maria B. one of the largest network of outlets in Pakistan. One must applaud her efforts for bringing a traditional bride on ramp fusing with the modern day girly girl of today. The edgy contemporary sari pants and the voluminous lehnga in blush pink on silvery base with floral embroidery stood out. The onscreen famous couple from the anticipated Hum TV’s Diyar-e-Dil, Maya Ali and Osman Khalid Butt walked the ramp for the designer along with the Humsafar OST’s fame QB. All the drama was in the clothes. DAY-3 Day 3 featured Nilofer Shahid who is undoubtedly back with a bang after an extended hiatus. Her show opened by Pakistani/Bollywood actress Humaima Malik wearing ethereal sharara quite soon turned into a pleasant surprise of a clothing line featuring the glamorous bridals in earthly soft hues — some emerald green here and blues there. It won’t be erroneous if we call Asifa & Nabeel’s collection merely a try to resurrect the style. Flared pants although took the ramp with a storm but multi-paneled shirts paired with the former pants couldn’t just get along. The collection of the duo known for bridal wears in Pakistan was travelling back into the Mughal era with “tehzeeb”. The total put off collection of the finale was Lajwanti with an odd colour combination and hop scotch fusion of elements and overdone embroidery offering nothing new unlike Fahad Hussayn’s “Gulnar Manzil” opting for lighter and balanced colour hues and palette while stepping slightly out of his comfort zone of darker tones staying true to his dramatic aesthetics. With impeccable and intricate details, the different colours’ were perfect for the daring different wannabe bride — just as his dark plum. Fahad made use of his signature silk thread work on rich fabrics like organza, tissue, net and chiffons along with a metal thread work specially crafted for this capsule. Saher Atif’s collection featured fusion of pants paired with jackets and hemlines using layered net, organza, chiffon and kundun zari embellishment mixed with pearls and laces while at the same time Erum Khan’s “Dastoor-e-Ishq” was one to die for. Beautiful cuts enhanced the detailing of work in subtle gold thread on earthly hues and lounder tones in organza and chiffon, featuring ghagra cholis.