It’s shopping heaven, particularly for the deep-pocketed sartorialist. Now that the Pakistani design fraternity has woken up to the lucrative possibilities of flagship stores, the mall high-street is cluttered with exciting labels like Deepak Perwani, Ayesha Hashwani, Sania Maskatiya, Sana Safinaz, Nida Azwer Atelier, Daaman, Gulabo and Sheep. Also available in every mall or shopping district worth its salt is the ever-pervasive Khaadi, offering everything from unstitched fabric to pret-a-porter to home accessories to the pricier, avant-garde Khaadi Khaas.
Lately, malls have also turned out to be the ideal venue to raise consumer/product awareness and media hype. Almost every other week installations, star-studded red carpets and even catwalks are raised in open spaces within malls to launch new brands, a new collection or product line. With coiffured, designer-clad models and celebrities milling about, print and electronic media flashing cameras and passing shoppers craning their necks for a look-see, it adds glamour and excitement to any launch event.High-end shopping streets and the couturiers du jour
Rivaling the malls are Buntoshopping popular shopping streets. Karachi’s E-street boasts Slate by Faiza Sami, Misha Lakhani and a Sonya Battla flagship store just about to open. Lahore has a brand new HSY Pret outlet and Karma, Coco by Zara Shahjehan and Elan stores, among others, dotted about the Gulberg area. The mainstream multilabels — Ensemble and Labels, namely — offer an assortment of the hottest brands.
Much more exclusive are the country’s couturiers — ingenious powerhouses who can cut a classy ball gown as seamlessly as they craft an intricate bridal-dress. There’s Bunto Kazmi, the veritable queen of bridal couture, whose Eastern luxury-pret held its own on the Oscar red carpet, resplendent on a victorious Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Sana Safinaz, spinning out glamour through a sumptuous export line and custom-made designs; Shehla Chatoor’s slinky, serpentine gowns and saris, tweaked, draped and embellished to perfection; Nomi Ansari’s trysts with colour and Shamaeel Ansari’s superbly-finished regal splendor. Also bringing on the razmatazz is a host of young designers: Wardha Saleem, Sania Maskatiya, Nida Azwer and Maheen Karim, whose uber-swanky designs have all the makings of a pro. The price points are high but then again, only the very privileged wear these designs, storming the red carpet or holding fort at a society soiree. The immaculate luxury of local couture is hardly for the general hoi polloi.