Border Turns Edgy: Pakistan’s art & fashion come alive at Delhi exhibition

Border Turns Edgy: Pakistan’s art & fashion come alive at Delhi exhibition

The Lifestyle Pakistan exhibition brings to the city lawn fabric, Kutch-inspired costumes and nomadic fusion wear

The fashion show  and the exhibition bring together the traditional and the avant-garde
The fashion show and the exhibition bring together the traditional and the avant-garde

When the second edition of Lifestyle Pakistan exhibition, Aalishan Pakistan, was announced last month, there was some palpable excitement about the goodies that would come from across the border. The last edition held in the Capital in 2012 was a success — the city discovered the fine, silky fabric called “lawn” and flowy silhouettes flew off the shelves. On Thursday, the exposition began and even though the response on Day One was bleak, it’s worth a visit. Held at halls 14 and 18 in Pragati Maidan, Lifestyle Pakistan exhibition, which closes today, hosts more than 300 stalls that primarily feature clothes.

The first floor of the exhibition was dominated by well-known names in the lawn industry. The two biggies of this market —  Gul Ahmed and Sana Safinaz, known for their stitched and unstitched printed lawn pieces —  were mobbed by those eager to buy a piece of Pakistani fashion.

Edgy and young Pakistani labels such as Rang Ja and Kayseria too attracted a fair number of attendees to their stalls. Some sold glittery sandals, while others put up mannequins dressed in bride brocade ghararas and farshis. “Our aim is to bring the best of Pakistan to India, to encourage business and hopefully realise the trade potential the two countries have. We share the same aesthetics and language is not a barrier either — this makes business easy,” says Rabiya Javeri Agha, Secretary, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), the organisers of the four-day event.

Tiny ferries took people from one level to another and as we rode up, the Couture Lounge beckoned us. While the typical Pakistani silhouettes still found space on the racks, this part of the venue acquaints one to the contemporary, edgy fashion that resides across the border. The huge stall space taken by Fashion Pakistan Council showcased collections by some of the most well-known Pakistani designers such as Deepak Perwani and Seema Wardha.


Huma Adnan of label FNKASIA is busy entertaining excited clients who are picking up pieces of her Kutch-inspired short jackets, kurtas and pyjamas. “This is a small size. Try it and show it to me,” she says. The pop-coloured pyjamas with Sind pagdi prints are a hit. “I have named this collection “Khan ka” as it’s inspired by the Khan family women of Pakistan. It’s a nomadic range of fusion wear. India and Pakistan share Kutch, so you can see those elements in the clothes,” says Adnan. The range starts at Rs 3,000.

Other labels such as Ensemble by Shehrnaz Husain and designers such as Farnaz Mustafa and Faiza Samee are equally crowded. Husain, who stores Indian designers such as Tarun Tahiliani, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Rohit Gandi-Rahul Khanna, is not new to the city and has had a packed Day One. “This is not just an exhibition, it’s also a way of finding a client base in India. We have received a very good response on the first day itself,” says Husain, who has brought a range of cottons, chiffons with ajrak prints.

While we hoped to get a taste of some Pakistani cuisine at the exhibition, we, sadly, settled for packaged biryani from Jama Masjid and some machine coffee.

Top of the Pop
If one walks in at a Pakistani fashion show expecting to be blinded by heavily embroidered ghararas and shararas, then Wednesday night at the Taj Palace in the Capital would have been an eye-opener. Apart from the exhibition, a fashion show comprising nine Pakistani designers was also a part of Aalishan Pakistan. Stretched over two hours, it was an amalgamation of the past and the present, a take on modernity and tradition.

Kayseria, the first label on the ramp, paid tribute to singer Nazia Hassan and created a collection as an ode to Delhi. Titled “Delhi Pop Collection”, the show began with Hassan’s most popular number Disco Deewane, as models sashayed down the ramp in short jackets paired with pants, flared bottom with crop tops and kaftans, all in pop colours. Huma Adnan of FNKASIA presented long dresses, kedia tops and skater dresses with Kutch-inspired costume jewellery. There was a burst of colour on the runway when Rang Ja presented a line of androgynous dhoti pants with collared shirt and jackets and boho -chic short dresses made of Gurjari patches with coins hanging.

To the tunes of Zeb and Haniya, Lala Textiles presented their collection of anti-fit dresses and jumpsuits in bright shades. Adding the celebrity angle was director Mahesh Bhatt who walked the ramp with young girls from an orphanage being supported by the group, addressing the issue of girl child.

For those looking for traditional wear from across the border, there were collections by designers such as Deepak Perwani, Wardha Saleem and Farnaz Mustafa, who did a fair share of flowy, ankle-length anarkalis, a few saris, lehengas and the usual shararas, farshis and ghararas.Our favourite was label Ahan that supports craftspeople of Pakistan. They presented a gorgeous range of off-white kurtas with mirror and pearl work as well as traditional rilli (cutwork) patches.