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Pakistan designers face flak for ‘distasteful’ print ad

The advertisement shows a model posing on a railway platform with porters carrying her Louis Vuitton bags

Written by Press Trust Of India | Islamabad | Published: March 16, 2012 12:55:21 am

A leading designer duo has rubbed many fashion conscious Pakistanis the wrong way with a “distasteful” print advertisement that juxtaposes their expensive spring-summer collection with the poverty usually associated with the country.

Sana-Safinaz — the designer duo — recently issued the advertisement for their “Lawn” collection,the best known fabric in Pakistan,which shows a model posing in a flaming orange creation on a railway station platform with porters carrying her Louis Vuitton bags in the backdrop. The stark contrast between the haves and have-nots,which positions the new collection,has been declared as “distasteful” by many.

Sana-Safinaz,whose collections are known to vanish within minutes of being unveiled,were recently in the news when Pakistan’s first Oscar winner,Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy,wore one of their creations at the Vanity Fair party.

Some found the advertisement reminiscent of Vogue India’s 2008 issue: an old woman missing her upper front teeth holding a child wearing a Fendi bib; a family squeezing onto a motorbike with the mother holding a Hermès Birkin bag; and a barefoot man holding a Burberry umbrella.

“The image uses the poor as props. It not only dehumanizes them,it also trivializes & celebrates the stark contrast. #SanaSafinaz,” read a post on Twitter.

A blog post by Bayl-al-Wajah stated: “…The cause of these hurt sentiments is the stark juxtaposition of the extreme rich with the poor that they trample and climb on to become rich in the first place. The designers had chosen to advertise their clothes (by) placing a glamorous,sexy model next to railway labourers who are carrying her Louis Vuitton luggage.”

Bayl-al-Wajah added: “The real tragedy is that there are many women who will buy multiple lawn suits for Rs 5,000 and (Rs) 7,000 with zero regard to the women in Khairpur who stand in the blazing July sun picking cotton and live on Rs 50 a day.”

While the designer duo is yet to comment on the reaction to their campaign,they have a few famous names rallying behind them.

“Let’s make some bets — Those creating the most hoopala about #sanasafinaz will be the 1st ppl in line for their lawns!#doublestandards (sic),” tweeted Chinoy,the documentary filmmaker.

“I wish they had good-looking male models carrying the bags instead of some… coolies. By the way,who travels in trains these days?” a Facebook user wrote in jest on the designer’s Facebook page.

Lawn is Pakistan’s greatest export too,and top Bollywood stars are often chosen over local models to advertise the fabric. The latest star to model Lawn for a Pakistani manufacturer is Sonam Kapoor. Firduas Lawn chose Sonam,who is high on style,for their 2012 collection. The firm had earlier hired Deepika Padukone for its campaigns.

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