After a three-day line up of glamour and celebration of romance and love, trust Ali Xeeshan to address the elephant in the room. In his fashion showcase and at the grand finale at the PLBW 2016 Xeeshan’s collection conveyed a message as strong as his clothes were pretty: Marriage isn’t always a celebration.
In his theatrical set up, we saw dolls, dramatic hair ornaments, banana leaves and outfits in frosted pastels, ivory, peachy coral, acid green, and powder blue as well as a message that was loud and clear. The ‘Khamoshi’ collection began with a dark video by Abdullah Haris featuring a stunning but silenced bride (Amna Babar) surrounded by a suffocating society that is more focused on the ritualistic aspects of the ceremony than the consent of the bride.
Intercut with slightly absurd shots of a monkey performing his ‘tamasha’ to the beat of his master’s ‘dugdugi’ the video highlights – literally and metaphorically – how many women in our part of the world are expected to accept what is decided for them.
This khamoshi is tragic when about 42% of the girls in Pakistan get married before their 18th birthday and 8% of adolescent married girls are already mothers between the ages of 15-19. But according to Xeeshan silence is not restricted to child marriages in villages.
“Brides-to-be come to my studio with their mothers in law and don’t even have the liberty to choose the outfit they like in the colors they want.”
The designer points out the injustice of this attitude. “They are not even married yet and have to succumb to the preferences of the mother in law, wearing what she likes and accessorizing like she deems fit. These are people coming from educated and well to do backgrounds.”
Ali Xeeshan’s bittersweet finale to PLBW featured classic silhouettes and with a running lotus flower motif that evoked youthful innocence complimented by the props that the models carried to drive in the larger social message of his theme.
His presentation closed with the beautiful Mahira Khan as the show stopper and a stunning collection showing that fashion does not only have to be about dressing up and looking beautiful; it showed that fashion can indeed be powerful.
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