Fashion retail is the new order of things

As fashion weeks take care of the show aspect, Ensemble moves to bigger and better premises in Karachi… with a live fashion installation in the shop windows and Sabyasachi Mukherjee on their racks!

Ensemble, has moved from 76 Old Clifton into the lane behind the very hip and happening lane that both Koel and Café Flo are situated on. The store has lost the sprawling garden that saw those eventful evening of collection showings, the first by any fashion retailer. Attended by the store’s super stylish clientele, these mini fashion shows became the buzz in the industry until fashion weeks came along. Now, Ensemble has moved to a place that won’t be able to host these events.

The yard outside the new Ensemble is much smaller. It had been turned into a red carpet for the L’Oreal sponsored event and instead of a show, they innovated with the idea of a fashion installation in the three spacious shop windows.

Each of them housed different displays put together impressively by Bary Ibrahim of Wow Factor, who has managed to pull together Fashion Pakistan Week on a shoe string budget. The first window featured magenta cogs rotating hypnotically against a black and white graphic print. The second display was shot through with bolts of color from neon pipes and the third show window was the grandest of all; it seemed to be erected just for the event but given the effort that was clearly put into it, let’s hope not. This imaginative and artistic display encased golden birds hung from fish wire that were brought to life by the breeze blowing in from the sea close by. In the left corner stood a luxurious armchair, and strewn to the right were empty gilded cages, from which the birds above most certainly had been released. The imagery was lovely.

Models walked into each display case and changed postures and positions every 10 seconds. It would have been a truly impressive performance had there been ample space for people to view it from a distance. Given the limited space of the yard of the new Ensemble venue this artistic realization of fashion was unable to make the impact that it could have. Vying for prime position was an uphill slippery battle amongst the fashionistas and TV camera crews present. If you had a spot you had to stick to it since it was near to impossible to move from one display case to another. One only saw glimpses of the whole, which was a pity for such a well-conceived show.

HSY started the show off with a predominantly beige and white semi-formal collection, soothing for the balmy summer nights, as well as bridal wear worked in dull gold and gems centered within the work in a complementary colour. He also showed some creations from his Mumtaz Jehan collection that were previously shown at PFDC Sunsilk fashion week that had his mukesh worked pants and chata pati shirts.

Sadaf Malaterre took bold block colors and worked them with vibrant contrasting threadwork. The designer brought something new to the table by adding this seasons modern wide leg pant to her west-centric designs. Malaterre wowed with just the right amount of embroidery not to overshadow the bold cuts and colors that she is becoming known for.

Sana Safinaz presented their chiffon printed dresses seen previously at FPW 2. While Sana Safinaz have been venturing into western wear gradually and steadily over the last few years, they are also maintaining their hold on the mantle of ‘the go-to designers’ for bridal wear. The western styles they have been presenting have given the brand another advantage over most designers. They do it all so well, including lawn.

Umar Sayeed chose to keep the wild imagination of his FPW 2 collection at bay; here he did what he does best (and what sells) with formal eastern traditional outfits with his own spin on embroidery and cuts. His collection was split right down the middle with the first display in magenta and the second in ebony and ivory.

The show, choreographed by Imran Kureshi, may not have had the fashion impact of the mini fashion shows Ensemble held on it’s old premises, but that was perhaps the need of the day. With fashion weeks becoming the norm, we now have four a year, fashion retailers need to become more imaginative with the events they do. With designers choosing to show at one fashion week or another, it leaves little room for them to come up with new collections to show elsewhere.

It remains to be seen if the ladies behind Ensemble, Zeba Husain and her daughter Shehrnaz, choose to come up with shows in the future. They have become synonymous with fashion events over the years. Indeed, Zeba Husain in another capacity as a member of the TRC committee is also associated with the Carnival De Couture, the next instalment of which will be held in Lahore in a couple of days. Umar Sayeed is showing there and so is Tarun Tahiliani, who is also at stocking at Ensemble. Also Indian designer Malini Ramani is coming down for the show… will we see her designs available on the racks of Ensemble soon?

If Carnival De Couture was once the hottest ticket in fashionville, Ensemble is definitely the hottest retail store, housing all the best designers and with bigger store space, they offer the largest variety in Pakistani fashion. Peruse the racks and you will find everything under the style sun – from casual kurtas with floral block print (Slate by Faiza Samee) to pretty eastern (Nomi Ansari and Kamiar Rokni), classic bridal wear (Bunto Kazmi, Rizwan Beyg, Shamaeel), western dresses (Sadaf Malaterre and Maheen Karim), ethnic wear with a twist (Nida Azwer). There are traditional joras, kaftans, a lot of kurtas for the summer, each following the style philosophy of an able fashion talent. The two-storey store also has Ensemble Design Studio’s own creations that are as exquisite as the bigger names they house.

Also, perhaps the best bit of fashion news for any dedicated follower of Indian fashion, Ensemble is now stocking Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the man feted at New York Fashion Week and a hot favourite with Bollywood star Rani Mukerji. He’ll be a major attraction, along with Tarun Tahiliani and Rohit Bal. Ensemble also has the franchise for Ritu Kumar in Pakistan.

The racks were filled with the clothes had price tags and there were many shop assistants and dressing rooms for immediate purchases, of which there were many on opening day.

As busy schedules keep most of people from visiting designers one on one, the ‘By appointment only’ trend is slowly being taken over by fashion retailers. One can safely say that Ensemble is indeed the fashion haven for the best seasonal buys from the best timeless designers. No one has the names they do and no fashion retailer has that chutzpah either.

[Source: Jang/Instep]


What Next?

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment