Fashion DNA is a designer mentorship for emerging Pakistani designers organised by the British Council. The programme takes the format of a year-long intensive training, including face to face sessions, online sessions, UK catwalk shows and showcasing, Pakistani catwalk shows and showcasing.In addition to the mentorship, designers will be invited to apply their new skills through the production of a ready-to-wear collection with a clear brand positioning with a capsule collection presented at UK-based Fashion Scout during A/W 2016 London Fashion Week and the full collection at Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi in April 2016.
While in London, designers will participate in the Centre for Fashion Enterprise’s Market Entry Bootcamp and engage and potentially collaboratewith UK designers. In addition to the designer mentorship, the British Council is pleased to open up masterclasses by the UK mentors for public registration in Pakistan. For this first round, UK mentors included Ruby Hoette (MA Fashion, Goldsmiths College), Toby Meadows (Author of How to Set Up and Run a Fashion Label),Malcolm Newbery (Malcolm Newbery Consulting) and Rebekah Roy (Stylist). Pakistani designers include Akif Mahmood, the House of KamiarRokni, WardhaSaleem and Zaheer Abbas.
Fashion DNA Pakistan aims to bring together UK and Pakistani fashion industries to help grow and strengthen our understandings of each other’s different design cultures, while supporting the development of emerging designers. With the GSP Plus status afforded to Pakistani exports to the EU (0% duty), this is an opportune moment for Pakistani fashion businesses to open up to wider market possibilities.Fashion is the one creative industry in Pakistan that has successfully aligned traditional craft to contemporary demands. Sustainable fashion enterprise platforms can therefore serve to empower large groups of semi-urban artisans and with the added advantage of international markets, can bring employment and prosperity to hundreds of Pakistani households.
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. It is a Royal Charter charity working in English, education and the arts. With an on the ground presence in 110 countries around the world, the British Council’s Architecture, Design, Fashion department facilitates connections between designers, makers, businesses of all sizes, cultural institutions, students and interested individuals. The aims of the fashion programme are to create a dialogue between international fashion designers and practitioners and those working in the UK, to deepen understanding of the cultural and economic value of fashion around the world, and to broaden international perspectives in the UK. For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org.
According to Akif Mahmood, “Whatever I design has to have a touch of our own culture and tradition. No matter how Western the collection is, how modern the cuts are, it should have some elements of our culture, because I believe this is how we can create something different from the rest of the world.” The Akif Mahmood brand is known for its use of colours and elements from local Pakistani culture combined with contemporary cuts to create modern yet traditional designs.
Akif Mahmood graduated in Fashion Design from the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design (PIFD) in July 2010 and received the Best Collection Award for his work at the institute’s graduation show. After his work was reviewed by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council, he was invited to showcase his debut collection under his own label, Akif, at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week in November 2010. His work was met with critical acclaim and thus, began his venture into the fashion industry. Akif continued to work with Pakistani fashion powerhouse Libas until February 2011, retailing under the name of Akif for Libas. Having already achieved success in Karachi, it was time to take Lahore by storm. This time, showcasing independently under his exclusive label Akif, he reinforced Pakistani design aesthetics and style sensibilities that evidently drew inspiration from local culture, close to his roots.
The House of KamiarRokni
Launched in late 2007, The House of KamiarRokni is among Pakistan’s premier fashion design houses. The brand strives to provide an immaculate essence of style in all their creations, designing signature one of a kind pieces that evoke a sense of individuality and elegance in the people that wear them. The Houses’ core philosophy is to embrace art, culture and imagination in their fashion. The brand is led by design powerhouses KamiarRokni, Tia Noon and Rehan Bashir, all of whom hail from quintessentially aristocratic families that are symbolic of an old world charm and traditional heritage. Indeed the trio’s diverse backgrounds shine through the label’s clothing, representing a seamless amalgamation of a combined seraiki history and cultural diversity that the three have inherited.
The luxury label’s prêt-à-porter and Haute Couture collections have consistently hit the runways in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan to critical acclaim, be it at the prestigious PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Weeks in Lahore and Karachi, Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi, Islamabad Fashion Week or Boutique shows with haute fashion retailers Ensemble and the Brazilian Embassy in Pakistan. In Pakistan, the brand also collaborated with textile giant Bonanza to introduce a line of limited edition voile prints. Internationally, the fashion house has showcased in Paris at the Prêt-à-porter Feminine, Mauritius Fashion Week and at the Paris-Lahore-Karachi show in Paris itself. Further, the label had the much coveted honour of having won an award at Pakistan’s biggest style awards, the Lux Style Awards, in the best Luxury Prêt wear category (2012) and The House was also awarded the first ever Libas Heritage Award at the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week for their inspired approach of turning traditional craft into contemporary fashion.
The WardhaSaleem label is known for its unique colour play, intricate figurative embellishments and contemporary print design. The brand’s vision is vibrant, young and eclectic. Fusing indigenous embroideries, vibrant colours and traditional printing techniques with a modern sensibility; allowing our customers to express their individuality and be playful with their style. A proud Pakistani Fashion Label heavily inspired by the vibrant culture of the country, the brand is committed to showcase the brighter side of its homeland through its design philosophy that is happy, playful and free spirited.
Launched in 2010, the brand has shown 12 back-to-back Runway collections locally and internationally. The brand has also shown exclusive runway collections at the prestigious Maison Moulin de l’Est in Paris as well as at the Alchemy Fashion Festival in London. The brand has also been nominated twice at the prestigious Lux Style Awards in the Best Lawn and Best Pret categories. WardhaSaleem has proven to be one of the most consistently creative talents in Pakistan’s young fashion industry. The designer who is also the CEO of Fashion Pakistan Council is a textile artist who lives and breathes blending bold colours and inventing dynamic print play. A textile design graduate from the prestigious Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture along-with seven years of teaching and advisory experience, WardhaSaleem is in sync with her passion to create and experiment. WardhaSaleem’s creations speak volumes of her deep understanding of textile, fashion and sub-continental traditions.
Zaheer Abbas was established in 2010 as a Pakistani design house rooted in simplicity. Zaheer is known for his use of monochrome, something unusual in Pakistan, as well as his craftsmanship. He works with his team of artisans to make each piece by hand in his studio. Zaheer has proven to be one of the country’s top designers with awards like the prestigious Lux Style Awards, Etihad’s Most Inspiring Designer and Geo Films Best Costume Designer Award. Zaheer has recently launched his Printology line, a ready to wear or lawn collection, featuring one of a kind prints created by the studio.