London is set to play host to a unique fashion event bringing together some of the finest young designers in India and Pakistan in a perfect riposte to the cynicism that often blights the relationship between the two countries.
The 'Faisana' Fashion Weekend will see creations by Indian designers Anita Dongre, Rina Dhaka and Bhairavi Jaikishan on the ramp alongside the equally exquisite designs by Pakistan's Umar Sayeed, Nida Azwer and Sania Maskatiya.
The event - to be held 2 and 3 May at London's fashionable Mayfair Hotel - is a collaboration between London-based fashion promoters Aamna Lakhany, Aisha Tabani Chowdhry along with Radhika Hasan.
The 'Faisana' weekend marks the first of its kind to combine Indian and Pakistani fashion and provides a unique buying experience showcasing designs from the sub-continent's burgeoning fashion scene.
The two-day event will launch an exclusive cocktail evening on 2 May where the designers will introduce their collections and interact with promoters and buyers.
A free-to-attend public exhibition will be held noon to 7 pm the following day.
Titled 'The Grand Trunk Show' - in celebration of the ancient road that runs from Dhaka through Kolkata, Banares, Delhi, Lahore to Peshawar and beyond - the event will be a showcase for a wide range of ready-to-wear and couture creations from the designers.
According to the organizers, the creations will be "competitively" priced, in-line with retail prices in India and Pakistan.
Mumbai-born and raised Anita Dongre is today one of India's most popular designers. Dongre apparently knew from the tender age of 12 that she wanted to be a fashion designer and studied fashion design at the S.N.D.T. Fashion Institute in Mumbai. Soon after graduating, Dongre began designing and supplying Indian wear to boutiques in the glitzy city, carrying on through the 1980's and most of the 1990's before launching 'And Designs India' in 1998. Dongre was one of the first Indian designers to latch on to the idea that consumers wanted to pare back from the elaborate nature of traditional Indian wear. However, she continues to be inspired by India's rich cultural heritage, including the traditional craftwork that characterises the textiles from regions such as Benares and Rajasthan. Today her fashion empire has expanded to include a number of different ranges, including 'AND' (Western Wear), 'Global Desi' (East-West fusion) as well as a successful jewellery line.
Arguably one of the most sought-after designers in Pakistan, Sayeed's creations are noted for their understated glamour and sophistication. From his kaleidoscope of colours and use of luxurious textiles to his dazzling craftsmanship, Sayeed's creations epitomize the ultra chic Pakistani fashionista.
The designer has long been a leading light in Pakistani couture, where his often dramatic evening and bridal wear has also attracted patrons from around the world. Sayeed fuses traditional styles with often ultra-modern touches to create designs that exude romance and drama.
Rina is one of the most promising stars in Indian fashion having burst on to the scene in the late 1980's and receiving acclaim from a number of western buyers and retailers. She is particularly sought-after in the United States where she has won a number of awards, including 'Best Designer' at the prestigious Miami Fashion Week 2004. Rina's clients include world-renowned fashionistas such as Supermodel Naomi Campbell and Hollywood icon Uma Thurman while her work has gone on display at the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York as well as evnts in London, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa. Bina's creations are marked by her free spirit and relentless exploration of creative limits, combining traditional textiles and craft forms with dynamic and contemporary styles and needs.
The ambitious young designer launched her eponymous fashion label straight after graduating from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi. The label is renowned for its classic, timeless elements that marry traditional crafts such as 'Miniature Embroidery' and the 'Zardozi' style of stitching. Nida's creations are hand-crafted in Pakistan using a variety of world fabrics, including Irish linen, hand-woven silks and brocade combined with contemporary shapes and designs.
Nida is a master of traditional eastern silhouettes as well, in particular the stylish 'Angarkha' dress. Nida's label now encompasses a kids line, bridal-wear and a Pret-a-Porter line.
The veteran Bhairavi is a mainstay at all major fashion shows in India, having been a designer to the stars since the 1980's. Famed for providing an international twist to Indian designs, Bhairavi is most noted for her intuitive designs with contemporary embroideries and treatments. Her unforgettably feminine creations have won over some of Bollywood's most beautiful stars, including - most recently - Sonakshi Sinha and Amy Jackson. Bhairavi's beautiful Lehenga's, Saris and her famous "Lehenga Sari' combine light-weight embroideries that allow exceptional freedom for the wearer with awe-inspiring intricacy.
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Since its official launch in 2010, the Sania Maskatiya label has seen extraordinary growth given its signature balance between elegance, comfort and practicality. Sania has proved to be exactly what the country's high end fashion mongers were waiting for, a one stop shop for luxury pret and couture. From ready-to-wear prints in classy, inventively blunt cuts to intricately handwoven, exotically embellished 'joras' Sania does it all. Sania's design ethos, is based on bringing together beautiful cuts and colors with embellishments in a way that neither is overshadowed by the other but flows together naturally. She finds her inspiration in her surroundings especially nature and her three main lines include pret-a-porter, diffusion, and haute couture for a broad range of women.