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Fashion DNA - AW16 Show Report

A trio of emerging designers celebrate cross-cultural tastes

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Image: Lucy Wegerif

Blending the traditional with the contemporary, Fashion DNA Pakistan brought up-and-coming Pakistani designers to the catwalks of London Fashion Week. As part of a mentorship programme organised by the British Council, House of Kamiar Rokni, Wardha Saleem and Zaheer Abbas showcased their wares. Despite each designer offering a capsule collection that stood out for their individual styles, elements of traditional dress featured in all of the designers' clothes, offering snapshots of their heritage.
Fashion DNA opened with The House of Kamiar Rokni's collection, featuring straight silhouettes across various different outfits. With cropped jackets and boleros in gold and silver tones, the designs managed to blend an air of sophistication with eye-catching touches, despite featuring minimal embellishment.
Wardha Saleem's collection followed, differing greatly from the first, with splashes of clashing colours exploding onto the catwalk. Lime greens mixed with bright pinks to form a cacophony of colour while prints that depicted exotic birds and flowers added to the noise. Building upon the previous collection, Wardha Saleem went for more adventurous silhouettes, with the clothes featuring draping, cut outs and more varied structures. The brand, which is known for its vibrant colours and playful styles, certainly lived up to its reputation. Imaginative use of laser cutting to create textured fabrics made the clothes lively and interesting, and the rock music accompaniment made the collection stand out in comparison to the more muted concept of The House of Kamiar Rokni.

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Image: Lucy Wegerif

Zaheer Abbas' collection, which was the final one of the Fashion DNA show, centred on a print of exotic wildlife. The series was comprised of muted tones - beiges, browns and military greens - but impressed with the signature print that ran throughout it. Used in dresses, jackets, shirts and many other designs, the print was transposed seamlessly onto each model's outfit, an adaptability that dominated the collection. When showcasing Zaheer Abbas' designs, each model wore a Pakol - a cap worn in the northern regions of Pakistan - showing the designer's ability to blend the culture of Pakistan with Western fashion.

The Fashion DNA project is a year long programme that allows emerging Pakistani designers to collaborate with UK designers. While the project aims to enhance the skills of designers who may not have the opportunity to do so on their own, it also aims to bring together the British and Pakistani fashion industries to create better trading relations. The three designers featured at Fashion DNA combined British and Pakistani fashion effortlessly and stylishly.

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