Louis Vuitton cranked up the volume at Paris Fashion Week Thursday, spiriting Florida's famous Marching 100 band into the heart of the Louvre to kick off a show for its latest lineup of colourful menswear styles -- in honour of the label's popular, late designer Virgil Abloh. "Virgil, long live Virgil," rapper Kendrick Lamar intoned, seated next to model Naomi Campbell on a bright yellow runway -- a blown-up toy racetrack that wound around a cobblestoned courtyard with a fountain running in the center. Performers from the Florida A&M University band twirled flags to the fanfare of the brass instruments, breaking out into dance moves before marching off the runway in formation, clearing the way for the models. For the spring-summer collection, the fashion house's men's studio drew on Abloh's signature tailoring, sending out elongated suits in pastels, jackets covered with wildflower prints or embellishments like paper airplane shapes and dangling patches in the form of scissors. There were twisted, psychedelic biker jackets, fringed jean jackets, knit hats and shirts with jagged edges worn with loose, Bermuda shorts. Abloh, fashion's highest-profile Black designer, died last year at age 41 after a battle with cancer. He was known for taking inspiration from the streets and credited with cementing the arrival of streetwear into the world of high-end fashion.
Qatar resident and Indian national Aarti Gautam has bagged the first runner up in Mrs Asia Pacific Beauty Pageant 2022 recently held in Singapore. She also won Mrs Queen Ambassador award, Mrs Timeless beauty and Mrs Lumina Golden Woman awards in the event, organised by Lumiere International Pte Ltd, Singapore. Participants from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, and Philippines also took part in the event. Aarti was invited to participate in the event as she was the winner of Mrs India – I Am Powerful Tourism award in 2021. Aarti, 55, a mother of two sons, has been residing in Qatar for 21 years. She is an educationist by profession and gardening-interior decoration enthusiast by passion. She has a great interest in fashion and fitness. She was also an educationist in India and Saudi Arabia. "Participating in a beauty pageant was like a dream come true for me and it was a wonderful feeling being named the first runner up at the Mrs Asia Pacific," she said while recalling that it was also certainly a challenge to compete with extremely talented ladies from other Asian countries.
Max Bsser and Friends, or MB&F, is certainly not a watch brand you hear about every day. It’s a class apart and chic enough that you want to certainly keep and wear it for a special day. A day quite literally where you’re expected to make a statement. Over the last decade, MB&F has produced a series of 'horological machines' known for their unusual yet distinctive designs, and non-standard displays. MB&F makes around 150 pieces per year, and sells every single one of them; they are not for the uninitiated, horologically speaking, and they’re available at Blue Salon in Qatar. MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser, recently visited the Blue Salon pavilion at Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) 2022. The History: Founded in 2005, MB&F is the world’s first-ever horological concept laboratory. With almost 20 remarkable calibres forming the base of the critically acclaimed Horological and Legacy Machines, MB&F is continuing to follow Founder and Creative Director Maximilian Büsser’s vision of creating 3-D kinetic art by deconstructing traditional watchmaking. After 15 years managing prestigious watch brands, Maximilian Büsser resigned from his Managing Director position at Harry Winston in 2005 to create MB&F – Maximilian Büsser & Friends. MB&F is an artistic and micro-engineering laboratory dedicated to designing and crafting small series of radical concept watches by bringing together talented horological professionals that Büsser both respects and enjoys working with. In 2007, MB&F unveiled its first Horological Machine, HM1. HM1’s sculptured, three-dimensional case and beautifully finished engine (movement) set the standard for the idiosyncratic Horological Machines that have followed – all Machines that tell the time, rather than Machines to tell the time. The Horological Machines have explored space (HM2, HM3, HM6), the sky (HM4, HM9), the road (HM5, HMX, HM8) and the animal kingdom (HM7, HM10). In 2011, MB&F launched its round-cased Legacy Machine collection. These more classical pieces – classical for MB&F, that is – pay tribute to nineteenth-century watchmaking excellence by reinterpreting complications from the great horological innovators of yesteryear to create contemporary objects d'art. LM1 and LM2 were followed by LM101, the first MB&F Machine to feature a movement developed entirely in-house. LM Perpetual, LM Split Escapement and LM Thunderdome broadened the collection further. 2019 marked a turning point with the creation of the first MB&F Machine dedicated to women: LM FlyingT; and MB&F celebrated 10 years of Legacy Machines in 2021 with the LMX. MB&F generally alternates between launching contemporary, resolutely unconventional Horological Machines and historically inspired Legacy Machines. As the F stands for Friends, it was only natural for MB&F to develop collaborations with artists, watchmakers, designers and manufacturers they admire. This brought about two new categories: Performance Art and Co-creations. While Performance Art pieces are MB&F machines revisited by external creative talent, Co-creations are not wristwatches but other types of machines, engineered and crafted by unique Swiss Manufactures from MB&F ideas and designs. Many of these Co-creations, such as the clocks created with L’Epée 1839, tell the time while collaborations with Reuge and Caran d’Ache generated other forms of mechanical art. To give all these machines an appropriate platform, Büsser had the idea of placing them in an art gallery alongside various forms of mechanical art created by other artists, rather than in a traditional storefront. This brought about the creation of the first MB&F M.A.D.Gallery (M.A.D. stands for Mechanical Art Devices) in Geneva, which would later be followed by M.A.D.Galleries in Taipei, Dubai and Hong Kong. There have been distinguished accolades reminding us of the innovative nature of MB&F’s journey so far. ‘To name a few, there have been no less than 7 awards from the famous Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève: in 2021, MB&F received two prizes: one for LMX as the Best Men’s Complication and one for the LM SE Eddy Jaquet ‘Around The World in Eighty Days’ in the ‘Artistic Crafts’ category, in 2019, the prize for Best Ladies Complication went to the LM FlyingT, in 2016, LM Perpetual won the Best Calendar Watch award; in 2012, Legacy Machine No.1 was awarded both the Public Prize (voted for by horology fans) and the Best Men’s Watch Prize (voted for by the professional jury). In 2010, MB&F won Best Concept and Design Watch for the HM4 Thunderbolt. In 2015 MB&F received a Red Dot: Best of the Best award – the top prize at the international Red Dot Awards – for the HM6 Space Pirate. MB&F – MILESTONES 2021: MB&F celebrates the Legacy Machine collection’s 10th anniversary with LMX, revisiting and accentuating the most striking features of the original LM1 – including a rotating, hemispherical power reserve indicator. The collaboration with clock maker L’Epée 1839 continues, with a 14th table clock called “Orb”. 2020: Launch of the eleventh Horological Machine, the HM10 Bulldog. A few months later, a two-way collaboration with fellow independent brand H. Moser & Cie, materialised by two timepieces: the LM101 MB&F x H. Moser and the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser x MB&F. Towards the end of the year, the LM Perpetual gains a new level of liberation with the LM Perpetual EVO, offering additional wearing comfort and robustness. 2019: MB&F launches for SIHH a new co-creation with l’Epée: MEDUSA. This year marks also a turning point with the creation of the first MB&F Machine dedicated to women: LM FlyingT. Last but not least, MB&F presents the world’s fastest triple-axis tourbillon: LM Thunderdome. 2018: MB&F begins the year with the unveiling of the second Performance Art piece in partnership with Stepan Sarpaneva: MOONMACHINE 2. This is followed by the HM9 ‘Flow’ as well as the opening of a new M.A.D Gallery in Hong Kong. 2017: MB&F plunges into the water at the SIHH with Horological Machine n°7 Aquapod. The Legacy Machine Split Escapement is launched in October. 2016: MB&F is invited to join the prestigious SIHH watch fair in Geneva. Melchior’s little brother is born: ‘Sherman’ is presented at SIHH. Balthazar joins the robot-clock line-up a few months later. In Dubai, a third MB&F M.A.D.Gallery opens its doors in January. Caran d’Ache and MB&F present the Astrograph pen, and HM8 Can-Am is launched in October. 2015: MB&F celebrates 10 years by launching anniversary pieces: HMX, the ‘Melchior’ table clock created with L’Epée 1839 and MusicMachine 3. Additionally, MB&F and watchmaker Stephen McDonnell reinvent the perpetual calendar complication with the LM Perpetual. 2014: Two new Machines: HM6 Space Pirate and Legacy Machine 101, which includes MB&F’s first in-house conceived calibre. Opening of a second M.A.D.Gallery in Taipei, Taiwan. 2013: The second Legacy Machine (LM2) comes to life. The HM3 is re-engineered as the HM3 ‘MegaWind. Also in 2013, the first co-creation between MB&F and music box manufacturer REUGE: MusicMachine 1 starts a trilogy of music boxes with spaceship-like designs. 2012: Launch of HM5, inspired by iconic 70’s supercars – back “On the Road Again”, 40 years later. 2011: Legacy Machine N°1 marks the beginning of a new line: the Legacy Machines are a tribute to 19th century watchmaking. The same year, the opening of the first MB&F M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva takes place, “where both horological machines and Mechanical Art Devices reign supreme”. 2010: Winner of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), the HM4 Thunderbolt is MB&F’s most radical piece to date. Two variations of the HM3 are also released: the HM3 ‘Frog’, and the JLWRYMACHINE created with jewellery house Boucheron. 2009: Launch of the iconic HM3 series with the Horological Machine n°3 ‘Sidewinder’ and ‘Starcruiser’. 2008: Horological Machine No2 revolutionises the world of haute horlogerie with its distinctive shape and modular construction. 2007: MB&F unveils its first Horological Machine, HM1. 2006: While developing his first Machine, Max travels around the world to convince his future retail partners to join him in his adventure. 2005: After decades of conforming to the rules of corporate watchmaking, Maximilian Büsser breaks the chains and starts a rebellion called MB&F.
Paris Fashion Week, which ends on Tuesday, has been over-shadowed by the war in Ukraine, with designers struggling for ways to balance declarations of solidarity with the glamour and spectacle of their shows. Some offered heartfelt tributes to the Ukrainian people alongside their women's autumn-winter collections — none more so than Balenciaga designer Demna. A refugee himself during a conflict in his native Georgia in the early 1990s, he admitted that fashion week felt like "an absurdity" against the background of the war in Ukraine. But he decided that cancelling the show would have felt like "surrendering to the evil that has already hurt me so much for almost 30 years". Demna (who has dropped his surname Gvasalia) recited a Ukrainian poem to open his show and draped the seats in the country's blue-and-yellow flag. - Russian cancelled - France's fashion federation, which urged attendees to experience the week "with solemnity, and in reflection of these dark hours", said Sunday it was cancelling Russian designer Valentin Yudashkin's show on the final day for failing to condemn the war. "Our team wanted to see if he would distance himself, like other artists. That has not been the case," federation president Ralph Toledano told AFP. Yudashkin, who has presented in Paris for years, helped design the latest Russian army uniforms. Luxury houses have been reluctant to follow other industries in breaking their connections to Russia, conscious of the profits that come from its ultra-wealthy elite. Some announced donations, such as the million euros offered for Ukrainian children by Louis Vuitton. The company announced record revenues of 64.2 billion euros ($70 billion) last year. Others went with messages of peace. Stella McCartney opened her show with clips of president John F Kennedy's moving 1963 address about the Cold War and ended with "Give Peace a Chance" by her father's ex-bandmate John Lennon. - Body armour - Some of the clothes this week looked strangely prescient, especially at Dior and Balmain where models appeared to be wearing body armour. Balmain's Olivier Rousteing explained the golden shields and flak jackets were actually dreamt up after traumatic facial burns he suffered in a domestic accident and the resulting fear of being trolled online. Dior's Maria Grazia Chiuri said her own "protective" designs -- including airbag corsets and vests with internal heating -- reflected the fact that "the world was already at war" even before the Ukraine invasion. "Covid was another form of war. We have all experienced some very difficult months," she told AFP. - Darker tones - This fashion week was supposed to be celebrating the return to relative normality as pandemic restrictions eased and almost all houses were back to live shows. The screaming fans who gathered outside venues across Paris to welcome stars such as Bella Hadid, Serena Williams and a very-pregnant Rihanna were clearly in good spirits. But regardless of world events, many designs were trending darker anyway. Saint Laurent's silky gowns, elegant suits and fake-fur coats were almost all pitch-black. Hermes, Rochas, Givenchy, Isabel Marant -- all opted for largely monochrome and sombre pallets. Even US designer Rick Owens, whose show was lauded as "transcendental" by Vice, made changes. His wild, apocalyptic designs are usually soundtracked by ear-bleeding techno and industrial noise. This time, however, he opted for Mahler's 5th symphony: "A piece I would have considered too sentimental in the past but better suited to the sobriety and search for hope in our current condition."
Halima Aden, the first supermodel to wear a hijab and pose in a burkini, has ripped up her lucrative contracts in an industry she feels lacks "basic human respect" and entered the world of modest fashion design instead. For the Somali-American who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, it was a matter of preserving her self-worth and well-being in a fast and loose sector that increasingly clashed with her Muslim values. "Since I was a little girl, this quote -- 'don't change yourself, change the game' -- has gotten me through so much in life," she told AFP in an interview in Istanbul. "When I took the decision to quit, that is exactly what I did," she said. "So I am very, very proud." Aden's departure last November delivered a shock to fashionistas and Muslim influencers who have admired her trailblazing career. Aden, who turns 24 on Sunday, broke ground in Minnesota, where she became the first contestant to wear a hijab and a burkini -- a full-body swimsuit whose appearance has stirred controversy on some European beaches -- in a US state beauty pageant in 2016. She posed in them again for Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue when her fame was spreading in 2019. But personally, Aden felt increasingly boxed in -- sometimes literally. "I was always given a box, a private place to change in, but many times I was the only one given the privacy," she said. "I got to see my fellow young women having to undress and change in public, in front of media personalities, cooks and staff, designers and assistants," she recalled. "To me, it was very jarring," she said. "I couldn't be in an industry where there is no basic human respect." - 'Poison!' Aden sounded liberated when she announced her decision to abandon photo shoots and catwalks last year. She is becoming a designer instead. "Wow this is actually the most RELIEF I felt since I started in 2016. Keeping that in was literal POISON!" she said on Instagram. She felt her traditions, starkly different from those of most other supermodels, were caricatured and turned into a gimmick by some brands. One, American Eagle, replaced a headscarf with a pair of jeans on her head in a 2017 campaign. "But... this isn't even my style??" she protested on Instagram at the time. "I got to a place where I couldn't recognise my hijab the way I would traditionally wear it," Aden told AFP. Aden looked far more at ease in Istanbul, surrounded by Middle Eastern fashionistas while attending an event organised by Modanisa, her new home. She will be designing collections exclusively for the Turkish online brand, which is one of the biggest names in the modest fashion industry, valued at $277 billion in 2019. It already makes up more than a tenth of the $2.2 trillion global fashion industry, with plenty of room to grow, according to DinarStandard, an advisory firm specialising in emerging Muslim markets. - 'Taste of the world' - World capitals as diverse as Moscow, Riyadh and London have staged modest fashion shows in the past few years. The trend is particularly strong in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where Aden rejoices at the melee of cultures on the streets. "What I love the most about Turkey, especially Istanbul, is that it is very diverse, you see women who don't wear the hijab right alongside women who wear the hijab," she said. "You get a taste of the world in Istanbul." The industry has taken off in the past decade, thanks in part to the modelling careers of women such as Aden. Soft-spoken but smiley, Aden sounds confident in modest fashion's ability to withstand crises like the coronavirus pandemic and changing fads. "It is the oldest fashion staple, it's been around for hundreds of years, it will continue to be around for hundreds of years," she said. Islam and fashion "are 100 percent compatible because there's nothing in our religion that says you can't be fashionable," she said. Luxury brands such as DKNY and Dolce & Gabbana have already picked up on the trend, creating collections catered to modest women. But Aden hit out at "a lot of tokenism, especially in the fashion industry, where they want our money but they don't want to support us in the issues that we are faced with." "I think fashion needs to do a greater job," she said. "You are representing your clients who are Muslims, it is important to speak up when they are faced with injustices."
Under the guidance of the Indian embassy, the Indian Women Association (IWA) in co-ordination with the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) organised an exhibition of handloom sarees and dress materials. The event at ICC's Ashoka Hall was inaugurated by IWA patron and chief guest Dr Alpna Mittal in the presence of ICC president P N Baburajan. The event was visited by representatives of the Qatar Women Association and the international community.
Doha resident, Priyanka Bajaj Sibal has been named Mrs India 2021. Bollywood actress Mahima Chaudhary crowned Sibal, a chartered accountant, as Mrs India 2021 Queen of Substance. The grand finale of the Mrs India Queen of Substance pageant 2021 was hosted by Aman Verma, an Indian television anchor and actor. In addition to Mahima Chaudhary, the jury comprised philanthropist and entrepreneur and the founder director of Mrs India Queen of Substance, Ritika Vinay; Indian actress and model, Anshu Varshney among others. In the final round question Sibal was asked, “ If you get an opportunity to choose a gender for yourself in the next birth, what are you going to choose – a male or a female?” Sibal responded: “I respect both genders but if given a chance I would love to be a woman, who is a beautiful creation of God. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman because she creates, she nurtures, she motivates, she inspires. She is a true inspiration for so many. God has given woman so many powers. If given a chance I would love to be a woman, in all my births.” Sibal said, "A dream does not become reality on its own, it takes hard work, sweat, determination, sleepless nights, sacrifices, blessings and much more. It all pays off !!” While celebrating her victory, she expressed her gratitude to her mentors and support system. Besides the main title, Priyanka also won the 'Mrs Photogenic’ title as well as the ‘Mrs Traditional Costume’ award for her spectacular portrayal of Indian tradition and culture. Her performance in the Talent Round was also exceptional, she performed on a choreography done by the Qatar-based Bhawna Sharma Naik, and lyrics written by her sister Meeta Bhardwaj and sung by herself. There were 28 contestants for the title.
‘How does this design make me feel, and why is it that I feel this way?’ – When an interior design student first asked herself that question during a project in her sophomore year at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) in 2015, little did she know that that query would become a compass to keep her on the right course of every design-related journey she would undertake over the following years – all the way to creating an award-winning entry for a design competition in France. In November 2020, Zeina Sleiman, a Class of 2018 Interior Design graduate from VCUarts Qatar, a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university, won a prize in a competition by French international design magazine Intramuros. The magazine – for the first time – had organised a collaborative competition with École Camondo, the interior architecture and design school in Paris where Zeina was a postgraduate student from 2018 to 2020, Sunbrella, a company specialising in performance fabric for indoor and outdoor requirements, Moore Design, a design business renowned for developing workspace solutions in multiple sectors, and Lafuma, a French-based specialist in outdoor equipment and clothing. The competition awarded prizes to the top three designs produced by the final year students at École Camondo. Sleiman’s entry, a dining table design titled, ‘Au-delà du visuel’ (Beyond the Visual), was selected by Sunbrella, while Moore Designs and Lafuma chose designs by two other students. The three winning students feature on the cover of the March edition of Intramuros magazine, which also has an article about each of the three winners and their projects. “As designers, we tend to focus on the visual aspect of the interiors and furniture pieces,” says Sleiman, as she explains the project.“I wanted to change that, and highlight the other senses that are as equally important as the visual. "During my research at École Camondo I successfully led a few experiments that included different sensory components; I was able to link certain emotions to the textures that I created. “I decided to implement these findings in my final project ‘Au-delà’ where I could design furniture that go ‘beyond the visual’ or ‘Au-delà du visuel’. I created three pieces of furniture: a dining table (which won the award), a couch and an armchair. "In each design, I highlighted surfaces or zones that, as designers, we don’t pay much attention to. For instance, for the table, it was the underside; for the couch, it was the side corners, and as for the armchair, it was the armrest.” According to the VCUarts Qatar alumna from Lebanon, the design for the award-winning table was based on an entire semester’s research that tackled sensory elements that go beyond the visual sense, and explores the psychology and the curiosity of children. “The structure of the table was one of the most challenging tasks I had attempted,” she says.“And this was where the question I had made a habit of asking myself ever since my sophomore year at VCUarts Qatar kept me focused on ensuring that the design is playful yet functional. “On one hand, my design was based on the psychological impact of a cocoon on children. The shape of the arches is meant to invite young users to crawl under the table to play; to create their own isolated, imaginary world. "We installed Sunbrella's fabric on the inside part of the arches to show the concept. "On the other hand, I worked on ergonomics and anthropometrics for both children and adults in order to make sure that the table is functional from both perspectives.” Zeina then worked with Sunbrella who provided the fabric and covered the cost of manufacturing the prototype of the table, and Lenka Créations, who produced the final prototype itself. The materials used for the prototype were white Corian for the tabletop, dark-tinted oak for the wood veneer, and the fabric is Sunbrella's Savane Midnight. The prototype is advertised through the Intramuros magazine. “When I heard that I was one of the prize winners, I was elated,” Sleiman says.“And it wasn’t merely because of the award. It was also because the honour seemed to bring the design-thinking processes I picked up during my undergraduate studies, to tangible fruition.”
There is something about a well-constructed chapeau that boosts confidence and glamour, and makes whatever outfit you’re wearing into a piece. Hats and their wearers usually, sit head and shoulders above the rest – and while people are not entirely sure why this is, it’s pretty much an unwritten rule of fashion. What then could further elevate this elegant accessory? Well, it’s simple. The story, of course. All good fashion pieces tell a gripping story. of Lucas Raven, the tastemaker and travel aficionado who has been inextricably linked to dapper hats since first coming onto the fashion scene in London, Paris, and across Asia in the late Noughties has partnered with Metier, the cultural bridge between culture and luxury, to create his own line of hats: Raven x Metier. Metier supports a tradition that has been given international recognition by Unesco as World Cultural Heritage for Humanity. The panama hats they make are handwoven by master-artisans who have passed these skills on for generations. All Metier hats are handmade and designed in Ecuador. Each piece is exceptional, full of heritage and authenticity that bridges the gap between ancient techniques and avant-garde genius. “It was love at first sight,” enthused Lucas about Metier hats. “I’m very particular about what I wear, and since first donning my first Metier hat, I’ve never taken them off. I am so incredibly excited and humbled to be collaborating with such an iconic brand.” “Moreover, Metier is keeping traditions alive and helping communities. There is so much more to it than what people wear on their heads -- Metier weaves the tapestry of history, and I’m so happy to be part of this journey.” Raven x Metier will be available in all Harvey Nichols department stores in the Middle East.
Now, as a new decade has dawn, the cycle has begun all over again. What will lawn look like in the 2020s especially now after an year of casual stay at home attire. The summer’s heating up and with temperature on the rise —it’s time now to break out easy, sweet summer lawn if you haven’t already. After an entire year of sweatpants and pajamas, the need to balance glimmer, shine and luxury appeal is the order of the day. Fahad Hussayn has returned to the fashion scene and this time he’s here to stay and his new Luxury Lawn Collection caterwauls the same. His collection ‘Shaj’rahh’ is out and this time it doesn’t just say lawn, it says luxe lawn featuring a hoopla of intricate embroideries. This guy really owns what he is doing and he has expansion on his mind this very time. The fashion film for the same features actress Noor Zafar Khan and the story weaves around the celebration of heritage, and love. It’s a beautiful film, but for me it doesn’t top Fahad’s last Mera Jora which featured Iqra Aziz in the backdrop of wedding festivities, but that’s understandable. The two feature and target an entirely different market segment. One is supposed to be bling and high octane and the other ought to take on a subtle route. In terms of designs and what’s new, the collection features 12 different ensembles interplayed and woven in vibrant and pastel hues featuring tribal motifs, baroque elements, and nature or architecture driven imagery, all very different yet fusing together to create the perfect design rhythm. Despite the umpteen designers who’ve signed with umpteen textile mills with vast resources at their disposal, the event of the year remains Fahad Hussayn’s lawn this very time. No one puts the kind of effort he does in his fabric and campaign, not just lawn but basically his every silhouette, especially the wedding wear. The loyalists keep coming back for the quality; he ensures pure fabric — the lawn itself wears well and lasts. “I believe that summer wardrobe for Pakistani women is all about lawn, it’s been like that for as long as I remember, I look at it as more of a tradition than just another outfit, it’s an exchange of sentiments, a symbol of love and respect between family and friends,” says Hussayn. Talking about where he drew the inspiration from, he says, “While working on this series I stumbled across lots of photos from the late 80s where all the women in the house were wearing the same designs on Eid. To me: nothing spells unity more than that, I thought I should tap back the same tradition and put it out there, hopefully it will bring back lots of old memories or perhaps will build new ones,” Hussayn says. Meanwhile when you check Fahad’s fashion film and the collection — think of traditional cuts and motifs. Granted, his lawn is huge, but his destination is bigger. If you don’t trust me on that, just imagine how within a day of the launch of the collection his various designs went out of stock and he had to restock because the demand seemed to be soaring.
Inspired by traditional beauty and modern elegance, luxury Italian fashion house Esme Vie’s latest Spring Summer 21 collection embodies the pursuit of the beauty inspired by their muse, Amal Ameen. She is a Qatari entrepreneur "who portrays to perfection the Esme Vie woman: bold elegance and timeless beauty interweaved by the kindest heart we have ever known", according to a press statement from Esme Vie. "The four pieces were inspired of what our muse will wear for different occasions. The collection inspired by her is every bit the perfect ode to femininity, capturing the essence of Amal day dress luxury by marrying the simple silhouettes with a touch of wearable art," it explains. The Amal day dress in white, her favourite colour as it reflects the pure heart she has, is what she would wear for a perfect afternoon tea on the terrace of the Museum of Islamic Amal Ball gown Art. "That perfect moment where the sun touches the sea with the perfect Doha sky colours. We picture our muse seating just as a piece of art with this simple yet elegant dress with a beautiful handmade flower brooch in silk. "The Amal plissè dress is our masterpiece dedicated to her in a very conceptual way. This couture piece embraces what she is: free. Inspired by her never-ending voyage, travelling Fashion icon Amal Ameen first Qatari muse of Esme Vie Luxury Italian fashion house Esme Vie believes that Qatari entrepreneur Amal Ameen portrays to perfection the Esme Vie woman: "bold elegance and timeless beauty interviewed by the kindest heart we have ever known”. Fashion icon Amal Ameen is the first Qatari muse of Esme Vie. Amal Ameen al-Mehain graduated in 2004 from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, and holds a bachelor of fine arts and interior design. Also, she has an advanced certificate in Arts, Communication, Etiquette and Protocol that has allowed her to manage multiple events along her career. For the last years, Amal Ameen has built her own empire and a reputation in the international fashion weeks worldwide due to the launch of the fashion division of her group: Triple Trend Design House. "With the success of La Boutique Blanche and Amici di Moda and due to the recognition of her work among the fashion scene elite, it does not come as a surprise that a brand like Esme Vie wishes to look into her image as a point of inspiration for the coming collection,' the fashion house has said in a statement. "Amal Ameen is not only an inspiration for Esme Vie but also to young generations of Qatari women. The coming collection reflects the elegance and sophistication of her personality and the impact she has around her and in the fashion world," it adds. all around the world’s most beautiful places, gazing and collecting like a bird, it’s treasures to bring back to her beloved Doha all the avant-garde of fashion and style to her distinct clientele. "The Amal Cala dress, inspired by her simple and humble elegance, portrays what she will wear to a dinner. "With no need to overshow nothing but timeless beauty with a simple look made with the world’s most precious silk, turning the dress into a masterpiece as the silk it’s the luxury itself," the statement adds. The Amal Ball gown was the first piece conceived for her as the muse. "It is a vision of royalty, elegancy itself. It is what our dear Amal will wear to a Ball, a gown paired with a piece of her diamond collection. It’s couture silk in lilac dream, elegantly imponent but smoothened with a light colour," Esme Vie added.
Can a digital or virtual experience ever replace the real thing? Over the past year, many designers, not only in Pakistan but worldwide, have been forced to at least try. And over the year, only a few brands managed to produce new collections, choosing to create films, podcasts, and playlists instead, until February. The trend of virtual fashion show seems to slowly fade away now as the world is trying to move back to the ‘normal’ with added masks-on and Covid-19 SOP’s in place. But until there’s a Covid-19 vaccine available to all, flexibility is the key. February was a small, careful step towards resuming a ‘normal’ fashion week in Pakistan as Bridal Couture Week took place in Lahore with suppleness for the audience and media to attend live or follow what’s being showcased on the ramp via social media coverage of the event thanks to its strong PR Team. Arousing fashion week from Lahore 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 bedecking trends and doing quirkily well commercially for the designers; encapsulating their latest bridal wears trawled over for months. However, this season where it was about everything bling, cascading stars and traditional silhouettes, it also took a slight slump with collections that never should’ve been made – or in another, never really allowed on the catwalk. Everyone is inspired by everyone, but simply taking the plagiarism route in the creative industry is not so creative after all. The puff this time around started long before the scheduled date and lineup was announced majorly because of the two reasons: one because it was the 10th year anniversary of the fashion week and second perhaps, why not because physical catwalk was laid out in the country after a long, long time. Zooming in on the fashion, here’s what we loved from BCW this season. Fahad Hussayn: He’s got the moves, he’s got the motion! Classic wedding wear will never go out of style, indeed it is the mainstay of most designer. Fahad featured classic heavy bridal with intricate work, but he updated it with his choice of motifs, interesting colours and the highlight of the show, very flowy silhouettes. There wasn’t a stitch out of place, the detailing of the layers, even the ones barely peeking though was tremendous. There were silk pieces digitally printed, re-embroidered with yet more intricate details, gold and gota embellishments, and tilla work not just on front panels but stretching right to the back (just because). The effect is both folkloric and refined. The one shawl that particularly grabbed the attention was the one adorned by Waleed Siddiqui. Who knew black, ferozi and gold could make such a wonderful combination, so festive and caterwauled luxury in every sense. Fahad caters to mass appeal and knows how to put on a show. Fahad’s comeback after announcing bankruptcy last year is one of the best things to happen to Pakistan Fashion Industry and that’s because such designers lay down a pathway for others to follow and following such details and theatrics is nothing but a visual treat, for the one wearing his clothes and the ones looking at them. Ali Xeeshan: The way Ali Xeeshan mixes colors and fabric together is artistic. Molded in golden wires with tilla and succha work in the earthly hues and fiery sky, Ali Xeeshan’s ‘Numaish’ was a chimera of bright vibrant colours with intricate embroidery and work along with the latest techniques of laser cutting, and block printing. Satiny gold, silver and pink yet edgy patterns, and peacocks assembled a glorious impact on the ramp. Aiming to let the colours do the talking, the collection featured cuts and silhouettes with contemporary touches on tulle, cotton net, tissue trials and brocade tailoring cholli and lehngas. His collection aimed towards discouraging the practice of giving dowry. A child bride came out walking with model Hasnain Lehri, tugging a trolley laden with dowry behind her. In another visual, Hasnain Lehri was the dulha walking out in a makeshift car prop, surrounded by the female bridal entourage. Ali’s bridals are immediately recognisable and they does it with flair. Neon green saree and blouses and popping blue and pink lehnga choli were statement pieces. Loved how the block colours meshed so pleasingly. Va Va Voom! Zaha Couture Zaha Couture featured modern Pakistani bride in shararas to gowns and harem pants, it mused in the shades of silver, blue, white and very delicate pink. We’ve seen Khadija Shah doing wonders, playing around – and this erroneously wasn’t the best she could come up with on the ramp in terms of experimenting with the silhouettes, cuts and couture. However, in terms of playing safe and presenting a commercially viable collection it was quite a head turner with a straight 9. Apart from exquisitely crafted bridal womenswear pieces, they also featured some menswear creations that blew in royal grace feels to it. Khadija seems determined that she doesn’t want to change the heavy textured bridals she does. Consisting of chiffons, silks and floral patterns, the collection and workmanship was lovely and intricate and so were the dupattas with the tassels. The peacock feather pattern in gold making its way on the gharara and slightly coming out from the open long panelled shirt was visibly edgy! Alishba and Nabeel: It was probably Nabeel’s first runway showcase after his fall out with long time partner Asifa Imran. Did anything seem to affect his designs? Absolutely not! Rather they took on a route of absolute delicacy and femininity. The use of thread work with motifs placed down the front of the kameezez provided linearity to the silhouettes. The ensemble was rich in culture Alishba and Nabeel were displaying as they offered modernity with pastels they had chosen for this collection. The piece that their showstopper Hira Mani wore featured traditional embroidery techniques with real craftsmanship, net dupatta and an inspiration drawing out from the Victorian era. Oh that royal pageantry. Faiza Rehman: Her haute couture outing for BCW was entirely devoted to the precious dignity of such beautiful but quiet clothes, pieces sculpted and pleated and constructed in such a way that they could literally never exist in prêt-à-porter . . . or at least with any notion of proper fit. The palette was blush, celery, rose, tea, and every interpretation of nude one might imagine. There was a deliberate dryness to the proceedings—literally, in the choice of fabrics (matte duchesse, double-face, crepe) and handwork (macramé, wood bead embroidery, ribbon embroidery) and also traditional kamdani, naqshi and dabka work. These are serious clothes, Faiza seemed to be saying, made by the finest hands and meant to be appreciated by women who are beyond the flimflam and easy glam of our times. Haris Shakeel: The collection by Haris Shakeel unfolded like a fairy tale on the ramp with the rainbow of colors – a treat for the eye. Pairing contrasting hues with a dash of finesse, Haris remained no bashful to experiment through his collection and presenting nothing obnoxious for the fashion critiques. The collection featured cuts and silhouettes with contemporary touches on tulle, cotton net and brocade tailoring cholli and lehngas for women and floral embroidery jackets for men. Munib Nawaz: Munib’s this year collection at BCW was one of the most impressive yet. Munib re-imagined bridal wears as separates for 21st century which didn’t stop him from being cheeky enough to send down a bright yellow menswear ensemble paired with old school gorgeous pink and teal heavily detailed lehnga choli for womenswear teamed with equally pretty dupatta (you gotta look at the pallu details!) – and he made it work out! Such wonderful contrasting, bright hues. So very lively. In plethora of duplication (referring to certain plagiarist wannabes) Munib held his own understated signature that borrowed the best of tradition and left the volume behind. Men’s wear included sherwanis and suits – as usual with the cuts that only Munib offers in the industry — quirkiness that resonates with his relates to his personality so well. Va Va Voom Munib! We want to see more of such designs coming from your side and setting trends. Umsha by Uzma Baber: Whirled with gold and embellishments, the Umsha by Uzma Baber opened their showcase with heavily gilded off-white ensemble. Putting the ramp on fire from golden and maroon tones, the fashion powerhouse of the country played well ending up on the pastel hues. The collection best exemplified the designers who are on ball with what they are doing…The silk blouses with jacquard lehngas, embroidered gowns, peplum cuts, long jackets and mandarin collar jackets – you name it, they showed it; enhancing the feminine appeal of the collection. Umsha’s attention to details was so microscopic that it’s hard to pull a copy of its work.
Couture embraces worlds. If the skill of extravagant flourishes of drapery can be pulled off anywhere in fashion, it ought to be in haute couture – the highest order of dress making. The haute couture season is always wanting someone to let loose with feather, wildly clashing colours and an unbridles sense of fantasia, though without going down any tiresomely stereotypical princess route. Although such extravagant satin bows, taffetas and silhouettes flowing down forming perfectly tailored ensemble with floor sweeping trains are a fantasy but tossing it around and convincing modern women to approach it is a totally different business. For more than five decades, Valentino has been storming out its couture collection season after season and what really protrudes the brand on the couture map of the world is their wearable approach. Making haute couture wearable is the key. If there’s anyone who can make a basic white poplin shirt a moment of couture when paired with long skirt, narrow in the front with flared train in the back, it has to be Pierpaolo Piccioli, Creative Director of Valentino — a new take on casual couture. Nearly a year in and Valentino caterwauled its response to pandemic with the showcase of its Haute Couture Spring Summer 2021 collection — Code Temporal — virtually. The oozing allure and grandeur of Valentino Haute Couture 2021 kicked-off lambently with the brand illustrating its latest collection and awe-impelling fashion ruffles plodded over for months. The show opened with ivory perforated cape heavily decorated with braids, carres and bows. This was effortless, but not bashful on making Valentino woman feel special when paired with silk cady trousers. By outfit three, a superb bourette draped dress in chocolate brown that was reminiscent of the quirkiness but perfect for a young woman of today, it was apparent that Valentino was going to break up the references with a few gorgeous pieces untied to any narrative really — nothing figurative, what followed after was fearless layering, turtle necks, pastels and silhouettes that transformed from chic daily wear to heavily gilded voluminous gowns. Ivory silk caped dress, tops or the off shoulder bright pink coat could bear a glancing resemblance to some iconic red carpet appearances — but it doesn’t really matter. What does is that silhouettes looked so young, relevant and neatly crafted and the delicate workmanship. In the way the pleats fell, the way the sheer fabrics seemed about to reveal something while keeping it hidden. The sense of precious heritage artisanship was also evident in the handworked embroidered pieces. Evening dresses stood as a master class in the flawless refinement that has been the trademark of Valentino since 1959. One in particular, a strapless draped aquamarine bustier dress entirely embroidered with a mesh of iridescent silver sequins had a timeless vibe to it that any woman would cherish. With sequins being the order of the day, gold, silver or magenta, the voluminous silhouette that really made a statement was the closing copper organdi dress. It moved and swirled so smoothly that it was nothing but reminiscent of a gothic ‘fairytale’ narrative. What the designer seemed to have in mind this season was the sense of weightlessness from pandemic, hence the parade of light, fluttery, oh-so-feminine clothes. Apart from the really worked out couture pieces, the large, voluminous and extravagant had been flipped this time for other pieces in the collection. Layering of hoodies, sweaters, board shorts, and shirts paired with capes and lattic-worked coats dominated the runway. Minimalism, elegance but taking the daring route with popping colours for menswear was evident. If the ensemble was entirely beige a dash of neon or bright pink was added to make the look standout. A runway show is undoubtedly an icing on a multi-layered cake and the applause the cherry on top. There are so many ensembles and ideas that a showcase where everything is perfect is almost impossible, unless its Valentino! Valentino is one of the masters of couture — a brand who knows what draping is all about. It can crop silk chiffon around a bod and into flying panels, quivery ripples, and filmy, flippy hemlines like no one else. And his finesse with beading on tulle—say, on the front panel of a grege cotton resille dress embroidered with silver pearls and rhinestones — makes others' attempts look coarse by comparison. Delicacy as a signpost of technique was also obvious in a top embroidered with champagne metal sequins. Fragile gold-and-crystal boots were a sterling accessory. But equally, there were outfits that seduced with their straightforwardness. For menswear, wool and cashmere camel coat with rose application and rust leather and wool coat embroidered with a net of bows (paired with menthe green turtle neck) was outstandingly chic, something anybody would love to recreate and wear. There was a fearlessness in the fact that so much of it was so casually chic, in generally like the button-up shirt running up the crepe organza and silk skirts or down the savage popping colours turtle necks. But Piccioli's signal achievement has been to turn such casual separates into something new, irresistible and haute. What the designers seemed have had done was the way they have managed to take the foundations of haute couture—the incredible, time-consuming, numbingly detailed techniques—and applied them to their own curious vision of basics. There could not have been a more perfect collection that this to the most fashionable day of couture.
The future of the fashion calendar has been uncertain for almost a year now. It’s been nine months since Covid-19 took over the world like a storm yet each day offers new challenges for designers and their teams to overcome amidst a health pandemic, an economic depression, and a global social justice movement. Planning for the next season is no longer a business as usual, but small steps are being made. The fashion industry at large, worldwide, has been reckoning itself at every level and business’s most visible touchpoint, the fashion week, has undergone a radical reformation of its own. Fashion weeks have gone digital. In the centre of all this, are the fashion councils and fashion week organisers because how the online content rolls out and who it reaches out to depends on them. For people like myself, consistently working within fashion industry at home and abroad, attending fashion shows had been a norm before the coronavirus came along. We would wax lyrical about shows that we loved and collections that were so well constructed and others that never should’ve been made – but we would also whine about having too many events to attend – and that too a schedule of one show after another, one event after another, sometimes dates coinciding, overlapping, late late hours and the inevitable delays. While writing about gruesome collections is never fun, there is a certain high that I get when I talk and review clothes that are utterly beautiful, a show that is standout or a brilliant new designer who has all the makings of becoming the next big shot. It was only when live fashion shows came to an abrupt halt and the months yawned on that we began to miss them. But it’s the new reality of fashion industry, atleast for now: a digital-only fashion week – without the chaos, the buzz, the gossip that sieved out from the plethora of backstage dramatics, the models, the designers and even the hits and misses of the red carpet. Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) went digital this season, nobody knew what to expect from the first digital fashion week—other than that everything was going to be radically different from what we’re used to – but however, it succeeded on delivering a pleasing fashion experience. Zooming in on the fashion, in literal sense on our screens, here’s what we loved from Lakmé this season. Manish Malhotra He remains everyone’s best friend and they are there for him. Manish Malhotra is loved, cherished and there’s no way there’s Lakmé without his spot. For the previous few collections, Manish had taken a different route — that caterwauled more bling and glamour and less old-world charm, heritage and traditional wear. However, this very time Manish managed to balance out his love for bling with traditional bridal sense, which was a little overdue. Manish’s pieces featuring lehnga choli, dupattas and angrakhas meshed in cotton, silk, and velvets was an example of how to draw upon history and tradition and come up with heirloom pieces. Featuring chatta patti in contrasts popping colours, zardozi mixed with crystals, Mughal motifs in resham embroidery and Bollywood’s own Kartik Aryan wearing an ensemble nothing but a heavily worked piece. His pieces are not just for wearing but keeping and passing on to your next generation! Gaurang Shah Gauang’s ‘Taramati’ was all about the timeless classic that has passed through the history of subcontinent gracefully draping women, belong to all bands of Indian society: Sari. Be it women who faced the carnage that defined Indo-Pak Partition, or high society soirees or modern-day cocktail parties – the sari remains a staple in nearly every woman’s wardrobe — in jacquard, jamawar, fluid chiffon, slinky silk or crisp cotton. Ever reliable, the pairing of yards of fabric with a short blouse simply never goes out of fashion. With its many folds and pleats, Gaurang retained the grandeur of a sari: employing chinkari, kasauti, block printing, embroideries, gota work, and hand-woven techniques on gorgeous banarasi, and jamdani weaves the thread embroideries were sometimes so detailed that they looked like print and a mélange of flora and fauna flitted about Gaurang’s canvas: clusters of flowers and asymmetrical shapes and designs. Woven in beige, green, yellow, rich purple, pinks, these are timeless pieces and you want to keep them for years over years in your wardrobe! Raw Mango by Sanjay Garg: One wonders what it must feel like to be the person behind a brand as ethnic as Raw Mango; to be accustomed to accolades and a perpetual stream of rave reviews. Does he still feel a high when applauded or is it now all in a day’s work for him? For while I have lauded this hoopla of talent to the skies before when he showcased his collection here in Doha during Shop Qatar last year, his festive collection ‘Moomal’ this season has me talking about it all over again. As the name suggests, the ‘Moomal (love)’ was a throwback to his love for Rajasthani craftsmanship and traditional silhouettes. Minimalistic with popping colours, the collection featured multi-coloured long blouses, kurtas with choli cuts, graphically constructed cholis, typical Rajasthani necklines – exquisite hand-worked dupattas, the old-world voluminous gharara, resham worked onto dupatta borders… the whole shebang. As always, there was a riot of colors in the collection; the festive ghararas in just the right shades of pink and green; light yellows, peaches and then bolder royal purple and a shade of red … basically impeccably finished and so, so lovely Pankaj and Nidhi: Day 2 of Lakmé Fashion Week 2020, dubbed ‘Sustainability Day’ dedicated to highlighting designers that follow conscious and ethical practices in fashion. Far more coherent then anyone else on this day was Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja’s ‘Talisman’, featuring the designers’ quintessential play of three-dimensional embellishments with fabrics made from 100 percent recycled plastic PET bottles paired with flowing chiffon and knits. It was playful and relaxed, yet daring and sporty with billowing shirts and lowers that allow for effortless slouchy elegance – bell bottoms, balloon-sleeved cropped blouse highlighted with sequins, puff-sleeved blousons, belted full-flared maxi, bralette with a long skirt, slim pants and button-less jacket – and hues that give the outfits an added breezy look against the predominant pastels. Péro: It was easily one of the best collections of the day. The collection was a symphony in cotton, gingham checks, linen stripes, and gauze-like solids falling in impeccably crafted layers, worked with intricate details that you immediately wanted to examine up-close. Printed flowers gave the ensembles a perfect chic appeal. Aneeth’s creative touches of handcrafted upcycled and hand embroidery was added to the footwear as well. There wasn’t too much of embroidery everywhere, which is an absolute delight because fastidiously crafted pleats and cuts fell into place perfectly not leaving an inch for anything extra. The huge sombreros worn by some of the models added flavour – you could almost see those layered skirts twirling on a hot night under the Spanish moon! Amit Aggarwal: Amit brought out nonchalant swirling lehngas, saris and separates evocative of festive yet unpremeditated and it was an utter breath of fresh air, swooping into luxury-wear’s fabric-infested landscape with cheeky colour blocks and the metallic Kanjeevaram sari border — mixed with polymer in interesting collages. The designer always presents something out of the box and one tends to associate this with him. His collection was inspired by cosmos and its stars, and well, it was extremely artisanal, the lineup was testimony to Amit’s finesse and eye for fashion. What a collection, Amit. Now, with this line, he even exemplified how has always meant to be for an industry that’s fickle – and he definitely plans to do so by sticking to his unique signature style rather than going down the hackneyed but lucrative embroidered route. What a relief. Disha Patil: Disha Patil’s ‘The Labyrinth’ held one transfixed; such was the sophistication of her craftsmanship, the finesse of her cut and the elegance of her silhouette. It was a beautiful collection, traversing a palette that varied from ivory, pastel pink, white and grey. One can more or less predict some of the elements that are bound to be a part of a Disha’s show: beadwork, paillettes and sequins, and hand embroideries galore. With ‘The Labyrinth’, Disha spun them together to introduce new silhouettes and also, creates looks that were strongly reminiscent of her earlier hits. Bridals are Disha’s forte and, in these times of generic heavy-duty wedding wear, she has a particular signature of her own. Her brides came resplendent in layered lehngas, the dupattas sometimes attached to the cholis or capes. The painstaking effort showed, as did the sophistication of Disha’s ethos. Kunal Rawal: Speaking of cool, it’s simply what Kunal will always be. The men wore the classic suits that Kunal cuts so well while the female models wore fierce jackets and skirts in grey and black. There was a lot of black on black sequin work, cutwork and silver beads. Even the models looked happy getting dressed for Kunal’s show. His menswear especially was replete with sharply cut jacket and embroidery. Having seen designers try to make menswear and blacktie fun for the audience rather than wearable for their clientele, this was the collection that delivered on all aspects. The jackets had filigree without compromising on the one thing that black tie is truly about: cuts. Sonakshi’s jacket, twinkling with silver embellishments, was an absolute statement — a sleek, modern take on traditional wear.
A series in real sense, with extra-ordinaire writing, direction and acting coming out of Pakistan. Churails (meaning witches) is the first Pakistani series that has been especially commissioned by an Indian streaming platform, ZEE5, in this case. ZEE5 brings it to its platform under its popular Zindagi brand. Created by Pakistani-British writer-director Asim Abbasi, Churails is an unapologetic bold, unabashed story of a bunch of gutty women vigilantes who take it upon themselves to teach abusive men — and through them, a deeply patriarchal society — a lesson they wouldn’t forget in a hurry. The series is set in the backdrop of Karachi. Sometimes fantastical, and sometimes a little too real in its statement, the show tackles a wide range of women’s issues — touching upon domestic violence, forced and child marriages, abortions, the feminine beauty complex, racism, and more — with a plot that’s fun and irrational but true at the same time. The show follows the lives of four women: Sara (Sarwat Gilani), a trophy wife of a politico who realises her marriage is a lie. Jugnu (Yasra Rizvi), is an alcoholic and ‘badnaam’ (disreputable) socialite whose wedding planning career comes crashing down with a glitzy chandelier. Zubaida (Mehar Bano) is a girl from an uber conservative family, who dares to dream to become a boxer and gets involved with a guy where even looking at one is considered prohibited and Batool (Nimra Bucha) a murderer who has just come out of her 20-year imprisonment for killing her abusing husband with a hot iron. Four ‘Churails’ but one story — perfectly intertwined with the accounts of other characters but never really missing the plot of its own; seamlessly pacing with an intriguing background score and music — each episode better than the last. In the first episode, mostly for the sake of plot, but also because of the various abusive men in their lives, the four are brought together by the writers of the show. Sara is a traditional happy go-lucky wife hosts smashing dinner parties, warding off inquisitive mediapersons whilst looking comely while doing so. Her veneer cracks when she stumbles upon hints of his husband, Jameel’s disloyalties. But instead of taking the stereotypical damsel in distress route, she banishes him to the guest bedroom forever, confronts him, and blackmails him into giving her property, on which she sets up ‘Halal Designs’ an undercover detective agency guised as a burkha boutique; an unlikely adventure — coming together with Jugnu, Zainab and Batool — a business through which they avenge ‘wronged women’ — the limited definition of which is laid out by Sara — women with cheating husbands. And then they’re joined by nine new like-minded bunch, two devoted male allies and seven supporting stock characters, all driven by appeal of money, but fuelled for bringing up a change in the society. In a blink, one case after another, without really consciously thinking about it, the Churails ends up snowballing into a mini feminist movement that draws attention of many, especially men — forcing their closure. For the first few episodes, it’s all Ocean’s Eight, daring and style for the breaking barriers avengers. Their facade is a boutique store. The confession-booth setup to conceal their identities even has a strategic hole for them to hold the hands of nervous clients who arrive with cash and difficult details. By the third episode, it starts to dawn upon both the characters and the viewers that it’s never as simple as becoming burqa-clad vigilantes in South Asia – or anywhere for that matter. Cops, politicians and mobs crash the party. By the fifth episode, the honeymoon phase is over. By the seventh, a larger conspiracy comes to light, and the story zooms out to reveal their little planet in a big universe. The narrative takes stunning twists and turns in the lead-up to the finale, uncloaking disruptive secrets and a monumental scam in the process. For all the actors: lead, supporting or the ones making the cameos, it’s a crisp, quirky and bold performance and it’s a celebration of brilliant Pakistani filmmakers and writers and their expression. But to recognise how unique Churails is, it’s essential to understand a recent trend in Hindi cinema. Where recently released Bulbbul, produced by Anushka Sharma, used a gothic period-horror tale to disguise feminist narrative of wronged women. Churails goes a step further. You cannot box Churails as a story of women empowerment or feminism, but its a bold statement — that women are capable of anything, they’re unstoppable, irresistible, powerful and they can run the world on their terms because they’re the ‘Queens of the Godamn jungle!’ Yasra Rizvi, Nimra Bucha, Sarwat Gillani and Mehar Bano defines the acting prowess at its best. And Asim Abbasi outdoing himself as a director after Cake (2018), everyone hitting the notch. Similarly, Director of Photography, Mo Azmi — who is also a co-producer — gives fabulous frames, with bright colour palettes and frame compositions. Churail Churail, teri kahaani khatam (Witches! Your’re done now!) — The title track of series is catchy, jazzy and quirky, sung by Zoe Viccaji and Taha Malik and lyrics by Osman Khalid Butt. Yasra Rizvi is a delight to watch, her movement from theatre to television to series is so evident with the finesse of character adaption and the way she moves on the camera. She’s sassy, spunky and spirited — free spirited, nothing redundant and she’s got the best lines to spout, and she does it wonderfully as well. Nimra Bucha is mesmeric and magnetising. Her eyes shoot daggers with the capacity to kill and so is Mehar Bano’s. Zainab’s a tomboy with a feminine approach that many girls could relate to, and Mehar Bano portrays very well in detail, especially in a sequence where she knocks out her kidnapper in a red dress. It won’t be erroneous to say that Sarwat Gillani is one helluva actress and she has been so underrated. With Churails she caterwauls what a hoopla of talent, emotions and expressions she is! The show is a fitting reminder of the need to promote exchange of arts and culture across India and Pakistan.
The fashion industry is reckoning itself at every level and the business’s most visible touchpoint, the fashion show, is also undergoing an entire revamp of its own. Faced with the necessity of translating fashion to a digital format, the Qatar National Tourism Council, following the route and level set by London, Paris or Milan Fashion Week’s digital edition, and in collaboration with United Development Company (UDC), recently organised Qatar’s first virtual fashion show — and it did live up to its puffery, with a few first-time glitches of course, like no background music in the YouTube live but that’s completely understandable when everything at large has just started to shape up. Mapping out how to marry the pomp and circumstance of a fashion show with the high-speed chill of the internet is still unknown, although fashion critics worldwide do review collections based on pictures or high-quality videos, but missing the catwalk physically is just an expected notion; it seems absence does make the heart grow fonder. The coronavirus came along just when spring was unfolding upon the country, and none of the events — including the plugged Fashion Trust Arabia — set to showcase the latest seasonal trends and bring about some new fresh air of fashion connoisseurs could take place. We missed the buzz, which may have been hard to find in recent times. We missed the fashion on the catwalk and off it and the opportunity to meet with the fraternity, for three or four days in a row. We also missed the excuse to get dressed up and go out for the night. As a fashion critic, I personally missed pulling all-nighters, assisted by big cups of coffee that I usually get from a café near my house while on my way back from the fashion infused night, reviewing one show after the other. While writing about the gruesome collections is never fun, there is a certain high that I get when I wax lyrical about clothes that are utterly beautiful, a show that is standout or a brilliant new designer who has all the makings of becoming the next big thing. While we wish that the coronavirus ends soon and we’re back to sitting side by side, gazing at the catwalk, one day after the other, there is also honestly so much that organisers are putting in to bring fashion weeks and shows home, and they are also successful at some level. The biggest pro to digital shows: the timings. This one’s a no-brainer. One of the most irritating aspects of attending a fashion week is that the show, officially supposed to start at a sedate 8 pm almost always begins an hour or a half later, with quite some breaks in between but digitally it’s all in a one go — no waiting, just fashion. So, where we miss the catwalk in physical, the digital takes over and caterwauls its lead and pros. Here’s what went down the catwalk, or this time if I must ‘our laptop screens’! Liwani The show opened with a checked gold yellow power suit with black lining, followed by a cheeky number of green silhouette over-sized top paired with a bright pink tights, a trimmed frill chiffon tulle cocktail dress in baby pink and then a couple of high-street menswear pieces. Nothing seemed to be cohesive, neither a particular theme for the collection was put forward. But individually every look had something edgy and if paired separately would make an outstanding outfit. Using cotton, denim and a variety of silks to create structured silhouettes in primitive basic colours it was a high-street retail collection and if you intend making a statement, these pieces will make you stand out all right — only if you get your styling and aesthetics game on! Per Lei Couture Per Lei’selaborately pieced tailoring and body-hugging tafetta spliced onto nude tulle—also did star turns. The pace picked up even further in the last piece in which nude bedazzled top with lemon yellow skirt morphed-together fluorescent chiffons and a statement belt in a hotly contested dash around the room. It was modern, sleek and all about silhouette frills that caterwauled feminine appeal. It was here more effortless-looking couture outings – that is, managed to keep supersize volumes down with some ready to wear twist. Va Va Voom! The Project The most powerhouse collection of the day! They maintained its signature loud and brash style, bringing novelty and even bigger lustre to their trademark with bigger bling on their edgy outfits on the ramp and oversized fabric on menswear that was allowed to turn, swing and flow just like a silhouette is supposed to. Whether he/she is clad in denim or leather or a little buzz of feathers – the collection was all about standing out and shining, like anything in the world. Neon dashes here and there with capes on layers, block colours, fuss free and a little PVC body fitted statement — this has to be the winner. The bubble wrap coat was loud — the modern twist to the otherwise boring outfit. The Project is here to stay and is very welcome! Ashwa It’s a haute couture season. There were many dreamy dresses in this collection: a trio in golden bling chiffon that wrap around the body, tethered by discreet micro-pleating; a black on black gown who’s inner lining was just enough in length to see the embroideries in detail — constructing shimmers on the legs; and black white and grey sequins silhouette that didn’t cinch at the waist too much and still had a perfect flow to the fabric. The power pink with the cape was a proof that there was a deliberate bling the proceedings — literally, in the choice of fabrics and handwork and guess what, it worked. The entire collection seemed to be painstakingly embroidered with tiny silvery-gray caviar beads, well when I say it, I mean it – it was just the start of how embellishments are done with the notch glamorous presentation. Youssef al-Jasmi For his haute couture collection, it was all crystals and blings in general that intrigued this Kuwaiti designer. Bling bling and tightly fitted full length gowns was a proof that nothing can hold him back when it comes to handwork and zip-line pieces; some fully embellished and some in simple choice of fabrics paired with metallic threads — nothing revealing, no deep necklines, over the top backs and hemlines of old-school agendas. The result looked like some sort of exotic fish-in the most flattering possible way. Months and months in the planning, we’re sure, and the statement full length radiating silver gown was decorated with crystals to catch the light and arrayed in the exact same pattern – fabric fizzling around the perfectly tailored couture. Shades Open, closed, fitted, flowy, oversized abayas with little intricate colour details here and there, sometimes collar, sometimes checks on sleeves and the lining of hijab; the collection was fuss free, embellishment free, naturally neutral and utilitarian. The favourite piece ought to be the black and white one — for how effortlessly and in block white paired with black and formed a statement. A busy sophisticated route for the modern women of Qatar.
While many designers are defined by the fashion industry, there are some who end up defining the industry instead. Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, shortened to HSY and mostly called Sheru by the fashion connoisseurs in Pakistan, can lay claim to that title. The rock’n’roll edge, bald, usually sunglasses, followed by body guards often seen in shirts with ‘I love HSY’ emblazoned on the front, when on fashion week duty, is one of the most recognisable figures in Pakistan; always at the top of his game in an industry known for its short expiration dates. On a one-track mission to create Pakistan’s most iconic brand, Sheru has dedicated more than two decades of his life to his work — and criticism, personal sacrifices have all come alongside meteoric success and worldwide recognition. When he started out as a young designer fresh out of Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design, Pakistani fashion industry was not what it is now. There was scarcity of fashion shows, models, moral patrol on the lead and hardly any off-beat designers coming out who were about luxury at large or couture. Hassan with his love for fashion and work made it all happen and soon starting directing fashion shows and shoots. Few years ago, Hassan brushed past me just centimetres away, walking along a narrow runway before he stopped to meet a fellow fashion journalist, sitting opposite in the front row, during the finale of his fashion show in Karachi. There was ongoing audience applause and it should’ve been an uplifting moment, but for me it was of curiosity — of knowing what goes in the head of the virtuoso who directs the models on the runway and creates a space of most engaging shows—i.e., the ones with the most energy: atmosphere. In all that hoopla of busy fashion schedule, I never really got the time to sit with Hassan and talk about his creative space, until now. If ever there was an award for a multi hyphenate man in fashion, Sheru would no doubt make the shortlist. A darling of the entertainment industry alike, he’s no bashful for taking the stage and dancing at an award show as the lead, hosting a prime time talk show Tonite with HSY for four seasons and now venturing into acting with film Ishrat Made in China, amidst the centre of designing clothes and inspiring people. In an exclusive conversation, Community asks him if he ever envisioned himself as one of the greats, he pauses, laughs, and tells that at the risk of sounding immodest, he did. “Staying relevant is not easy especially in an industry where new people are coming in and replacing old ones, in an instant. I constantly push myself to do something better every day, to leave a legacy behind,” he says. A studio that speaks for itself HSY recently established his new studio in Karachi, a grandeur that speaks for itself, encapsulating the heritage and value of traditionalism in a 150-160 year old house. Chandeliers, wooden floors, richly textured world of HSY with his stylish orbit bridal collection on the display, and neat bouclé men tweed jackets, the braided leather- and chain-handled racks — renovated spark with the hues of keeping originality intact. As the doors of his studio open, you can see Sheru discussing about his incalculable future projects with his team. Before sitting and putting forward a dozen questions about design, I comment on the glamour of his studio. “A studio space for a clothing brand that believes in luxury I believe should also ooze that kind of vibe. People should come in and feel that they’re buying a lifestyle, not just a product. This is an old heritage house that was built about 150-160 years ago and we had to renovate it brick to brick and floor to floor. But, I strongly believe that a brands legacy should be what it left behind. We all make clothes, everyone has won awards but that’s not legacy. Legacy is leaving something behind,”he adds, “We didn’t touch the outside façade of the property, neither did we touch the interior with modernity; we just fixed it how it was and just brought it to life.” What about futuristic approach to design and design space? Fashion has long been a community driven by passion, artistry, joy, and invention, though, of course, around it has evolved an industry of perpetual motion, always moving, faster, faster, faster… with a pulse on everything that’s happening around the world and bringing international elements to their creation and space. However, Hassan thinks otherwise in terms of borrowing trends and elements from Milan, Paris or New York at large. “Running towards a future that is not borrowed from Milan, Paris or New York but Pakistan is important. So many people want to feel that they’re part of the Ellie Saab world, we’re not. We’ll never will be. We don’t have finger on the pulse on what’s happening in Lebanon. We don’t have Beiruti women, we don’t have the Parisian lifestyle. We sell to a woman who’s in Sialkot, who’s a beautiful woman in Peshawar, who’s a rich powerful woman in Multan, who’s an incredibly important social worker in Gujranwala. They’re the clients. She’s a Pakistani. The question is will she feel comfortable here or will she comfortable in a studio that’s too western for her taste, with flickering lights and just bedazzled mannequins,” says Hassan. Pakistani Bridal Wear and Couture In times of Ready-to-wear (RTW), the only thing that merits a one-on-one between designers and customers is bridal wear. Bridal wear still remains the cornerstone of the Pakistan fashion industry. It is desi fashion’s high point; it is to the subcontinent what couture is t the west. Although Hassan is referred as the King of Couture in this part of the world, he has come in terms with the narrative that couture is only for a specific niche in Pakistan, and graceful inclusion of only certain elements of couture with bridal for this region be more successful for mass market. He says how he’s non chalant to fashion reviews now who bashes him when he shows a collection that doesn’t feature an off-shoulder, a round cut or a big flared skirt. “I get to hear ‘Oh Hassan! It’s stale, its stale!’ Who is actually wearing what you’re asking for? Which women am I targeting? I live by the rules that are set by the world of Pakistan. If I’m doing an international show, it’ll be a different collection, but when I’m in Pakistan — it ought to be a Pakistani collection. A wearable collection people can actually buy,” says Hassan. “I don’t take fashion off the streets that too of Milan or Paris with off-shoulder cuts and puffy sleeves,” adds Hassan, “I can’t print crabs and taxis and big flamingos on my outfits. I always design keeping two things in mind: can my mother wear it and can my sister wear it. You know when Brooke Shields called us in for a dress, I told her that the motif will be very Pakistani and she was like why else would I be calling you.” Figuring out what’s coming up the next season One of the most talented and outrageous fashion designers of his time – with eccentric and poetic fashion moments that no one will ever forget – HSY’s bride-to-be and her family tells him exactly what’s coming next season. He’s smart to pick up the consumer behaviour and market response. “When my client comes in with a sample colour she wants, I know that’s the colour trend that’s going to take over Pakistan the next season and grab it immediately.” The first time HSY became aware of fashion “I didn’t know I wanted to be a designer until 29th July, 1981 when I saw Princess Diana getting married. I was a little boy in London with my mother who she took along with her to stand way back in line to get a glimpse of the procession. She held me up on her shoulders and I was lucky to catch a glimpse of the Royal Carriage with the beautiful Queen of Hearts as it passed us by. It was a magical moment. She inspired me like she inspired countless others. I remember telling my Mom ‘Princess!’ and she was like ‘Oh God! Now he wants to be a princess!’ and I was like ‘No, I want everyone to dress like a princess!’ That’s I guess the first time I thought of designing clothes,” Hassan recalls. However, it wasn’t as easy for men to join a design school and pursue fashion designing back in the 90’s. “Initially I went on to be a lawyer, because fashion designing wasn’t considered a man’s job and then when I was 17, I got into an accident and lost my eye sight. But when I gained my eye-sight back, I realised that there are so many things we’re not thankful for and that’s when I made up my mind that I have this gift of eye-sight and I’m going to make beautiful things. That’s when I convinced my mom to send me to the design school.” The Royal Affair The fashion maestro was one of the few people from the country and fashion/entertainment fraternity selected to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, during their visit to Pakistan last year. Remembering how his life had come a full circle from when he started dreaming of the things he has achieved today, he said, “I recently met Prince William and Kate Middleton when they were visiting Pakistan and it was a big moment for me. I told them how his mother inspired me to be a designer. I told them I want to be the king of people’s heart just as how Diana said in her last interview that she wants to be the Queen of People’s Heart. On the same year, I was celebrating my 25 years in fashion, it felt like I had come full circle. The son and daughter in law of the very same person who sparked my desire to be who I am were standing right in front of me and acknowledging my work. More than that I am happy now that I can now go and tell my sister’s children and their children that to dream is not a bad thing.” Twenty-fives years of fashion revolution Fashion shows we see today are not the way he envisioned them a decade ago, he along with his team of models had to undergo scrutiny just to organise a meek fashion show built on wooden planks at a community garden of some designer’s house. Fashion has changed immeasurably in Pakistan. Some years it felt like every season was starting anew, with droves of creative directors coming and going; more recently it has seemed like every week was a new beginning—or ending—in the fashion world, with brands, stores, and ideas sprouting up on social media as brick-and-mortar spaces we thought would exist forever closing their doors. Nothing about the medium is the same as it was back in 90’s. Some years were marked by specific collections or designers, while others were about unique items, trends, or cultural shifts. How Hassan thinks fashion industry has evolved, he responds, “Everything has changed and nothing has changed. Good craft is still king. Good designer aesthetics is still the most important thing. Attitudes have changed. But to sum it up, it’s still the customer that’s calling the shots. Things have become better in terms of acceptance. Boys working in fashion acceptance, girls working as models in fashion acceptance and fashion weeks acceptance. We have done fashion shows from scratch and was it good for me? Yes! I learned a lot and taught a lot.” HSY on being relatable “I’ve been around for the industry or 25 years now and I’m a people’s person. I post on Instagram more than any other designer does to make myself accessible to my people. I share when I’m sad, and I share why am I sad. That has been my strategy forever. To be someone people can relate to. I hope I’m not going over the line, but today if you take me or any other designer to a passer-by, his/her chances of recognising me are much more than anyone else. Not because I’m famous but because they’ll know I’m one of them. I even go to schools and share my success story with them. On how I didn’t come from a privileged background but still made it. I’m not going to be around forever, sure I look really young, but one day I’ll go and I want my journey to be more than that he made beautiful clothes. I want people to remember that he inspired the youth of Pakistan.” A tale of two cities Fashion has historically been a tale of two cities in Pakistan and there has been an intense competition between the two. A fashion industry of its own sprung up in Lahore with most organised structure — PFDC — under Sehyr Saigol and just how smartly a bridge between Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design and PFDC was created, a Karachi council Fashion Pakistan was also formed. Lahore was PFDC’s territory and FP, Karachi’s. For some time it was as if the councils owned their territory and became insulated. However things have been stirring up for the past few years. Hassan thinks that designers in this day and age should play a national game, rather than city divided approach. “There’s no New York or Miami, there’s no Milan or Rome, there’s no London and Bristol — as its American, Italian and English fashion, it should be only Pakistani fashion. Together we are a stronger breed and separated we are a fighting silly bickering designers who forget that the game is fashion not competition. Competition is not in which city you’re in but how good your product is. PDFC has done a good job and so has Fashion Pakistan. Yes, there’s a certain old guard that feels like politics but if you look at the new young designers, each just wants to show.” HSY’s ‘My Pakistan’ Time and again we come across various celebrities, who devote considerable time to different philanthropic activities. They lend support to social causes but also go the extra mile to spread awareness regarding issues like education, health, vocational trainings etc. Hassan collaborated with Network of Organisations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP) to provide hope, empower as well as create opportunities for differently-abled designers. “The idea behind this project is to empower differently-abled design students and provide them with a platform to creatively express their ideas, thoughts and whatever comes to mind when they think of Pakistan through art using different mediums. What we’re going to do out of these drawings is that we’re going to make tunics out of these and sell them, and the entire proceeds of the design are going to go to the student.” HSY in Qatar I did a show in Qatar few years back and the entire thing for me was pretty good. Since I had a couple of Lebanese friends in Doha, it all came together well. Also I love flying via Qatar Airlines, it’s one of the best in the world.
It is rightly said that photography is a record of one’s living, for anyone who really sees. As a powerful medium of expression and communications, it offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution. For Najla Nabil, photography has not only changed her perspective on how she views things, people and places around her, it has also given her social media identity. A devoted homemaker, she does not fail to find time to indulge and improve her skill. Community spoke to the Pakistani professional photographer who has made her mark in family, food, fashion and travel genres. Hailing from Karachi, she has been in Qatar for about 12 years along with her family and calls it her home away from home. “I have a Master’s degree in Public Administration. After working full time in Pakistan as a high school teacher, I moved to Qatar. Here, I have pursued my hobby of photography and now work as a freelance family photographer.” Najla got attracted towards photography by observing her father taking beautiful images. “My earliest interest in photography stems from watching my father tinker with his camera gear. He was an enthusiast and while he took plenty of photos of ours, his real passion was nature, and he dabbled in macro photography. It was much later when my children were growing up, I would be taking their photos, or events at friends or school events. While I was doing all this, I realised that I wanted to improve. I then upgraded my camera gear, enrolled in recommended online courses, and looked out for quality workshops in Doha and abroad. “From thereon, it just grew as more work opportunities started coming my way. I invested more in my learning, and with immense support from the community and my husband, I eventually went professional about six years ago.” Dilating on how she brushed up her photography skills in Qatar, Najla said: “I am a self-taught photographer. From earliest paperback and online resources recommended by trusted creatives around me, to the workshops available in Doha, through VCUarts Qatar, and private ones conducted by some of the best photographers, I kept learning. Being a part of online fraternity on platforms such as Instagram, Flickr, Digital Photography School, Canon and Fujifilm, has contributed significantly towards my learning, growth, and my client relationships. In response to a question on what form of photography she takes interest in the most, Najla said that she enjoyed the human connections through photography. “I am someone who immensely enjoys the human connections that my photography grants me. It empowers me to seek and capture my subject’s persona, photogenic aesthetics and preserve their most special moments in a digital image. It is a great responsibility to have their trust in you, not just as a service provider, but as someone with whom they can truly enjoy the entire experience of their photoshoot. This is why I am primarily an outdoor and home studio family and personal portrait photographer. I also do travel, food and fashion photography. “In recent times of home isolation, I have been able to delve deeper in other genres like food and product photography, and am excited to add more diversity to my portfolio. I have also been working on developing my website and I hope to launch it very soon.” She thinks that photography has changed her perspective while looking at different things and people. “Personally, photography has not only changed my perspective on how I view the things, people, and places around me but also my social media identity as an image-taker. It has given me the gift of some amazing creative connections in the local and global fraternity. It has helped me to appreciate that it is not the gear in our hands that defines the quality of the stories we share, and visuals we create, but the eye, thought, and planning that has gone into its execution. “I shoot with Canon and Fujifilm for my professional work. I also shoot every single day with my iPhone and share the images on my social media handles and on my business accounts with captions that reflect my mood on the day (mostly humorous). This sharing feeds my soul. It presents freedom to explore my skills further, and the response from the fraternity and those who enjoy my work, encourages me to add more skills to my profile, peppered with inspiring conversations, treasured friendships in the real and virtual community.” The photographer has established her own brand called Najla Nabil Photography. “I am grateful that photography allows me the flexibility of working on my own terms, as a full time parent to two amazing teenage girls. While my very small freelance photography business enriches my individuality and creativity, it also comes with the usual solo proprietorship challenges. I can assure you that photographer entrepreneurs are perpetually engaged in doing the math on gear investment.” Responding to the question whether mobile phone cameras have improved or deteriorated standards of photography, Najla said: “There are both pros and cons. I firmly believe that the highly sophisticated cameras in our mobile phones have largely contributed to the growth of photography. However, it has made it easy enough to go wrong. When it is in the right hands, phone camera allows for capturing amazing frames on the fly without the extra management of camera bulk, accessories, time, and camera settings. In amateur hands, it takes away the fear of camera technicalities making room for you to learn basic compositional and aesthetic skills to create a stronger visual. “I am a firm believer that it is the eye and mind behind the lens that makes or breaks a visual irrespective of what lens or gear we have in our hands. There are also phone apps at your fingertips for ease of quick and brilliant editing like PS Express, Snapseed, Lightroom Mobile, InShot. Mobile phone photography is a hugely popular technical genre of present day photography, and I think that is fantastic.” The photo enthusiast believes that modern technologies have helped in enhancing the quality of images. “The evolution of camera and light gear technology has definitely led to raising the bar for the quality of photography right now. Nothing can take away from the brilliance and learning that comes with having worked with the older film cameras, but there is much to be celebrated in modern day offerings. Since the time I bought my first SLR 20 years ago, the kind of cutting edge technology that I have in my hand now is very exciting. While it has made us ‘trigger happy’ and even lazy in our perspectives at times, it has opened more doors for creative exploration, than ever before.” About how she enjoys her passion in Qatar, she said: “I owe much of my motivation to the photography community in Qatar. There are plenty of learning opportunities, collaborative projects and business possibilities. There are few challenges with regulations in some of the public spaces, and we all hope that those will be eased in times to come. “Since I shoot outdoors typically, one would think that after all these years, it would feel like a drag. But I still find it very exciting to seek new frames and try new compositions even in the usual locations. Qatar’s spatial landscapes, beloved heritage and equally dazzling contemporary architecture present the most stunning frames for me to capture life as it happens, offering unique memories for the expat and local families residing here.” –
Sahabzade Irrfan Ali Khan seriously nurtured the desire to be a cricketing hero. In small town India, where cricket and cinema are the twin intoxications that normally drive notions of heroism, the young boy of a tyre seller in Jaipur couldn’t realise the dream, so he shifted focus to acting, his other passion that he had been honing doing street theatre. It is ironic, actually, that his entry into the field he would never make it big seems far easier, compared to his entry into the field that would eventually give him fame and fortune. For, the young Irrfan from Khajuriya village near Tonk district of Rajasthan was in no time in contention to play in the CK Nayudu Tournament — a stepping stone for under-23 cricket in India. Irrfan could never make it, some say owing to lack of finances. His entry into the world of films, on the other hand, was far less of a fairytale story. He faced the camera for the first time in Pravin Nischol’s Doordarshan TV series Shrikant, based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya’s novel Srikanta and starring Farooq Shaikh and Sujata Mehta in the lead roles. The show ran between 1985 and 1986, and made very little impact. Irrfan’s big screen break happened when Mira Nair came looking for fresh and interesting faces in National School of Drama (NSD), to cast in her 1988 film Salaam Bombay!. She picked Irrfan, a student at the drama school back then, for a small role. The film went to the Oscars, Irrfan was just about noticed. What followed are years of struggle. For most of the Nineties, he was stuck with forgettable roles in television, ignored by bigtime Bollywood. Those were the days of mainstream perfection in commercial films, which told tales of the perfect hero setting things right in an unsettled world. Irrfan, with his unconventional face and persona, would seem too outlandish to be a hero. His rich voice and screen presence matched any screen villain’s, but at that point of time he was considered too young to be the traditional bad man. Back then for a male actor in mainstream Bollywood to make a mark, you had to be either hero or villain. Irrfan was a misfit for both. There were a few interesting roles in the arthouse and crossover circuit — Basu Chatterjee’s Kamla Ki Maut (1989), Govind Nihalani’s Drishti (1990), Tapan Sinha’s Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1990), and Akashdeep’s Ghaath (2000). But these roles, despite being well-acted out, didn’t give Irrfan the sort of traction he would hope for, to create an impact. Interestingly, that happened with a ‘foreign film’ — which perhaps explains his sustained demand in the international market right till the end. When British filmmaker Asif Kapadia was making his directorial debut in 2002 with The Warrior, he was looking for a new face — preferably Indian and unlike any — for the title role. Irrfan fitted the bill. The film was an international success, and people who mattered in the film industry had noticed. A year later, two films released within a span of months would turn the tide for the actor. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s debut directorial feature Haasil and Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool in 2003 gave Bollywood a very different option in screen villainy. His small town goon-politician in Haasil and the brooding don in Maqbool, a Bollywood revisit of Macbeth, gave screen menace two very different hues. It was the early 2000s, Bollywood was undergoing a churning, with new faces being welcomed. Most importantly, the advent of multiplexes had thrown open the genre of realism in entertainment. Actors like Irrfan were suddenly in demand. Over the next years, roles in Life In A... Metro, Rog, 7 and 1/2 Phere, Sunday, Mumbai Meri Jaan and New York worked at propelling his popularity. The big bang role in Bollywood would come in 2012, with Paan Singh Tomar. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s remarkable real-life story of an athlete who becomes a dacoit under circumstances needed an actor who could be vulnerable and resilient at the same time, in projecting a complex torrent of emotions with understated ease. Irrfan’s effort won him a National Award as Best Actor. It also underlined an important fact that had been happening through the years — the actor was a brand on his own accord, not a mere prop in big productions for major commercial stars. What worked for Irrfan in setting up his unique brand power was the fact that he managed to crack the international scene after The Warrior. Michael Winterbottom’s 2007 release A Mighty Heart saw Irrfan essay a Pakistani cop in the grim account of journalist Daniel Pearl’s killing. The film did not work, but when you play an almost parallel role in a film starring Angelina Jolie, you get noticed worldwide. The immediate outcome was his turnaround project — Danny Boyle’s 2008 global blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire. The film’s success and massive Oscar haul made everybody associated with it famous. Hollywood, forever looking for exotic faces, suddenly found a viable deal in Irrfan. It helped Irrfan for two reasons. First, Indian and Asian origin directors such as Mira Nair and Ang Lee, with Indian and Asian characters, had grown in stature in the West. This translated to important roles in films such as New York I Love You (2009) and Life of Pi (2012). Secondly, Indian roles in mainstream Hollywood projects were no longer about playing the cabbie. The age of inclusion was upon Hollywood, and Irrfan bagged pivotal roles in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Jurassic World (2015), and Inferno (2016), besides voicing Baloo the bear in The Jungle Book. Juggling his acts between the varying shades of The Lunchbox (2013), Haider (2014), Piku (2015), Talvar (2015), Hindi Medium (2017), and Karwaan (2018), Irrfan had clearly reached his best phase of career in Bollywood. At the same time, in veteran director Marc Turtletaub’s 2018 Hollywood drama Puzzle, Irrfan finally got to play the hero, opposite Kelly Macdonald. The film won critical acclaim and found favour among the niche audience. Irrfan’s finest hour — in Bollywood as well as Hollywood — was just. Which makes his demise an irreparable loss for us, on the other side of the screen. The 53-year-old actor is survived by his wife Sutapa and their sons, Babil and Ayan. For the record, the actor has been ailing ever since he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour a while back, and has been under medical attention for the same. For his fans, Irrfan will live on. Incredibly, on the screen. — IANS 10 times Irrfan Khan proved he is master of versatility Irrfan Khan was a true on-screen chameleon who smoothly transformed from a top athlete to a bandit to a common man looking for a bride to a doting dad in films. The actor is no more, but his memorable roles in Bollywood films will stay forever in the hearts of his millions of fans. Here’s a guide to his top 10 Bollywood films: Paan Singh Tomar He brought the life story of the late Paan Singh Tomar, a champion athlete who later became a bandit, to the big screen. It wasn’t easy to get into the skin of Tomar, who later came to be known as the ‘Bandit King’ of the Chambal Valley. “Two months before the shoot, I took physical training from a Delhi-based national-level coach on Steeplechase. It was difficult but enjoyable. I also undertook lessons on voice modulation and pronunciation as I had to speak in local dialect,” Irrfan had said in a 2012 interview with Indian Express. The film, helmed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, fetched him National Award for Best Actor. The Lunchbox The 2013 film was a romantic movie but not the usual one with actors lip-syncing to love ballads. He played a lonely man on the verge of retirement. But before his office days are over, a mistaken lunchbox delivery changes his life. “I long to explore romance in different ways. I don’t often get that chance. This concept of love, we misuse the term. Love is a pure connection, a strong longing,” the actor had said in an interview to The Star in 2014. Piku It was essentially a father-daughter film that was appreciated by many for Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone’s natural acting. But Irrfan knew how to make his presence felt in the Shoojit Sircar directorial that had released in 2015. He played the role of a man who ran a cab service in Delhi. His profession makes him join the fun yet emotional ride with the father and daughter in Piku. “The script was so new. The flavour of the film, the emotions were all so new and fresh. That attracted me. Also, the team... Shoojit and Juhi (Chaturvedi, the writer of Piku). I was dying to work with them,” Irrfan had told India Today in 2015. Maqbool The 2004 crime drama about passion and power was an adaptation of the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare. In the Vishal Bhardwaj directorial that had Ames like Pankaj Kapur and Tabu attached to it, he played the title role — right-hand man of an ageing don. Life In A... Metro The multi-starrer had multiple stories in one film dealing with topics like extramarital affairs, love and heartbreaks. He essayed the role of a straightforward man desperately looking for a bride. “I did not do any preparations for the role. My preparation was that I did not prepare for the role. I had complete faith in (director) Anurag Basu. The kind of character it was, it had to be done spontaneously. The only preparation was to think like a man who has not met a girl even though he is 37 years old now and still has not touched a girl. So one can imagine the desperation one feels when he has not touched a girl,” he had said in an interview to movietalkies.com. Madaari The 2016 movie showed him as a grieving father who later kidnapped a top politician’s son. “I play a man who feels the system has collapsed completely and there is a need for a reform. My character is not based on any one individual. Nor is the film an attack on my political ideology,” Irrfan had told IANS in 2016. Hindi Medium In the 2017 comedy-drama, he played a rich businessman who did everything — even pretended to be underprivileged — just to get his daughter enrolled into an English school. His co-star was celebrated Pakistani television star Saba Qamar. Karwaan The 2018 movie took the audience on a fun road trip with Irrfan, Dulquer Salmaan and Mithila Palkar’s characters. Irrfan portrayed the friend who everyone would want in real life too. It showed his comic side and romantic sides too. Haasil With a focus on student politics, the 2003 movie showed him as a student leader of Allahabad University that fetched him Filmfare Best Villain Award. Angrezi Medium The 2020 film was a spin-off to Hindi Medium. Angrezi Medium, primarily a father-daughter story, was one of the last films that released before the Covid-19 lockdown virtually closed down the film industry. He played a sweet shop owner and single father set to fulfil his daughter’s dream to study in London. — IANS
Staying at home and observing social distancing is a new normal since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The new phenomenon is also bringing different behavioural and social changes. The saloons and hairdressers are no longer in business. Similarly, the women, stuck at home, have nowhere to go to take care of their hair, skin and beauty needs. There are manifold tutorials and guidelines available online for women on how to take care of themselves while staying at home. Professional beauticians and makeup artists in Qatar are coming up with their own online pages and even YouTube channels providing essential information on new products and techniques regarding how to take care of personal beauty needs at home. Teddy Nalweyiso, a 26-year-old Ugandan expatriate, has fast found her feet in Qatar while working with Sephora, one of the most well-known beauty brands in Doha. She embodies the passion and perseverance that is required to pursue one’s dream – making it big as a makeup artist. Describing herself, Teddy said: “If I decide to get something, I work really hard to achieve it. One of the reasons for who I am today and I am extremely proud of it. I am a graduate in procurement and supply chain management from Uganda. However, I have always been yearning to have a career in the makeup industry.” Explaining what it has taken her to be a makeup artist, Teddy said: “I never gave up on myself. In the beginning, I did not have the best of application tools and products. But, I never stopped learning and researching. Initially I had a lot of troubles with finances. I used to have big ideas but I lacked resources to put them to reality. “After I got done from the university, I thought I should go abroad for a career. I went to Dubai in 2015 and eventually joined Qatar Airways in 2015. After serving Qatar Airways for 18 months, I joined Sephora Beauty Studio.” When asked what makeup means to her, she said: “Makeup is an art that can bring out the inner beauty. With this fusion, we can enhance natural beauty. I can transform people with it. It can help you become a better version of yourself –enhancing one’s beauty.” Like many other beauticians and makeup artists, Teddy is also locked up at her house owning to the unprecedented health crisis. She is however utilising her time to improve upon her work and create content for her YouTube channel. “Well, I used this opportunity to create more content of different looks on my YouTube channel (Teddy Nalweyiso) as well as my instagram page (@beautybyteddy) with the help of my husband, who is good with editing. So for me, this period of uncertainty has been very productive.” When asked if her company is also running online services for the clients, Teddy said: “My company is not running any online services for our beloved customers here in Qatar but I promise we have a lot more in stock and amazing new products once we open again am sure they will love it.” Teddy also wants women staying at home to use this time productively and start taking care of their skin and beauty. “Since so many women are usually caught up with work, kids and family, this is the time they have to deeply take care of their skin by following the right skin care – cleansing, toner, eye cream, serum and moisturiser. By the time the situation is back to normal, they will be having baby skin. For the hair, it would be great to use hair masks for deep treatment and then wear just the basic makeup for home – foundation, powder, blush, eyebrows, mascara and neutral lipstick colours. We have to be attentive to our beauty needs despite the fact that we stay at home. There is plenty of time for women, especially the working women, to take care of themselves and improve their skin health.”