Here's the honest truth: I've never been too big on clothes. I've usually just been too big for them. As a child, I was probably the only one out of a crowd of cousins who was constantly wearing someone's or the other's hand-me-downs and had no issues with it at all. As a teenager, I was perpetually in awe of the girls in class whose uniforms always looked so bloody immaculate (somehow, I was never able to emulate that neatness... I still think it's because they had heavier irons at home).
One of my good friends in A'Levels told me that he'd noticed me for the first time during O'Level exams. "You stood out," he said. "Oh really?" I asked, flattered like nobody's business. "Yes," he replied. "All the girls were dressed like babes and we were like, 'Who's that maasi?'"
POINT BEING that dressing up - and the shopping associated with the endeavour of dressing up - has always been a bit of a chore for me. My poor parents-in-law patiently waited for three years for me to transform into a butterfly bride, which of course I never did. (Their next daughter-in-law did a far better job of dolling up post-shaadi, thank God, otherwise one would've laboured under the guilt of failed expectations for years to come.)
So lawn season meant nothing to this apparel novice... until this year. Nothing can prepare a native Islamabadi for the mind mushing, electrode-exploding advertising and marketing brouhaha that marks Karachi's lawn season. Indeed, the lawn itself becomes kind of secondary. Take Asim Jofa's massive ad campaign, for instance, which featured the biggest billboards in town with Iman Ali as the Brand Ambassador. Unfortunately for Jofa, the mammoth-size photos of Iman sullenly staring into the camera while stretched out in one strange pose or the other couldn't disguise one little fact: the prints looked God-awful! If he'd limited his campaign to, say, postage stamps I may still have made the effort to check the exhibition out. Not that it matters what I thought - the day after his exhibition there was a slew of massive Jofa billboards shouting THANK YOU all over Karachi. Iman Ali - 1; Aafster - 0.
Nadia Hussain's campaign, which was running around the same time, was utterly uninspiring, looking like a drama shoot from the 1980s. Nice earrings, though. Vaneeza followed up with an interesting spin on the classic chick-in-tight-bright-jora-with-dupatta-flying-in-the-breeze formula: she didn't do it. All her billboards featured just close-ups of her face. The most you ever saw of her clothes was a random brooch peeking out from the corner of the billboard, or a tiny patch of print on her shoulder. It was odd but nicely no-nonsense. "Hi. This is Vinny the Pooh-pooh. Yeah, you know me. See you there."
There were uncountable other campaigns, one of the more striking ones being Umar Sayeed's model in a stunning red and green lawn print draped over her like a sari (but probably most memorable for her freakishly skewed eyebrow). The campaign that won for creativity, however, was Junaid Jamshed's (J. lawn). Not a single bored/angry/sexy in a maladjusted way model in sight. Instead, we got balloons. Yes, hot air balloons. Beautiful, whimsy, mad coloured balloons. And little, colourful gift bags with elaborate designs. It made me think of festivity, tissue and great ideas.
And so I attended my first lawn exhibition ever in thirty-two years of... not attending lawn exhibitions. And I was not disappointed. JJ (we're buddies now, see?) had put together a really great collection of prints. Attractive colours; pretty, wearable, sane designs; excellent fabric; a price that put some stress on the wallet but didn't break the bank. Well played, JJoo darling (astaghfirullah, astaghfirullah, astaghfirullah!).
Under normal circumstances, HSY would deserve special mention in this blogpost for THE most elegant, suave, IN.YO.FACE classy billboard on Do Talwar, showing him in a dapper as hell black suit and announcing the HSY World of Prints with a series of uber cool adjectives listed along the side. But his exhibition sucked. It was actually worse than Deepak Perwani's. Let's just pretend we never had this conversation, okay?
So, ladies and ladies, yes I never made it to Sana Safinaz but having attended three lawn exhibitions this year I feel like I've had a bit of a breakthrough here, ya? The only person I've dished out money to so far: Hazrat J. (RA). Now you tell - whose exhibition did you feel most at home at? Where did you be-lawn-g this season? ;-)