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Saturday, April 16, 2011

A sense of be-lawn-ging

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?  ;-)


  1. One by Sana Safinaz and one by Deepak Perwani. I like Deepak Perwani!

  2. From what I've been told, you're lucky to have lived to tell the tale of being at the SS exhibition! Key words: crowd, crush, sold out.

    I like Deepak Perwani too! I drool outside the windows of his stores. But his lawn was so... lacking in impact, didn't you think? The one item I really liked was sold out.

  3. There are lawn EXHIBITIONS in Pakistan now? Now who's the maasi, Aaf? I used to go to liberty market to buy three-piece lawn suits for the summer, sometimes even smaller markets, sometimes I even shopped for "knock-offs" in my tight student budget. I don't think I will be able to survive in Pakistan now. They will all think I am a maasi! Must go back to Pakistan for a reality check if nothing else.

  4. Lol! This is all designer lawn, Noors. The three-piece variety is very much alive and kicking... probably the best location in Karachi being Aashiana (full of enterprising Pathans hopping to sell the fabric the moment it comes in).

  5. Love your writing Afiya!! Wish we had lawn here so I could say something witty and intelligent!!


  6. I did two, Deepak's & HSY's. But guess what, I came out with my low-priced-&-proud fashion statement intact.
    I almost jumped the cliff, though, with a particular Sana Safinaz thats available at Bilal Fabrics...but no. Made it through :)

  7. You write so well Afia! I like Deepak Parwani's (name): I always read the punjabi meaning of his surname (parwah naen...!). HSY could use 'will you buy?' as signature line: it rhymes so well:D
    Cheers, Arshed

  8. Sarah, I am imagining you as a yogi lying on a bed of lawn as a test for the material self!

    Arshed, after years of making fun of your tendency to play with names, I've finally become victim to the same tendencies (e.g. almost every post title in this blog). Love the play on DP's name!

    Jhilmil, since when have you needed any impetus to say something witty or intelligent? Muah.

  9. Oh, Aaf I didn't weather the storm myself. My amma did it for me. The Deepak Perwani print I got is this ethnic looking pattern in red, kinda similar to chunri. Oh I love his store too but cant afford to blow 7k on a tunic top right now.

  10. Ill tell you what, Sobia Nazir has great lawn . See her prints.

  11. well written afia!...made it to a few exhibtions..yes sana safinaz was really crowded and women were fighting but so far i feel they had the best collection..even cresent lawn wasnt bad(very bad material of the cloth though)...i have decided not to buy any lawns next year cos where ever i go atleast four people are wearing the same thing...so not cool!

  12. Oh I'm done lawning... even this much was exhausting! The advertising circus was fun, though.

    Afia, good point. Never thought of that.

  13. well, i guess i don't be-lawn-g anywhere!!

  14. Now, Zahra, let's not forget that little phase you went through in which you threw all discretion to the wind and bought three designer joras...

    I'd say you be-lawn-g at Me-lawn-ge! (Okay, the puns are beginning to wear me down now...)

  15. Last year I went crazy. Bought 400 dollars worth of lawn.

    All that sat in my closet for the whole year because thanks to the fact that abroad, mothers often don't have khandaan and other help to hand over the kids to, so they can attend dinners and brunches while they show off their nice heels and designer lawn, I was almost always dressed in flared pajama bottoms and a tee shirt.

    So this time I only succumbed to the lure of Gul Ahmed's ready made shirts (good to wear when you're socializing in Paki circles) and wohi 1000 rupay walay suits.

    My wallet is being saved for Zainab Market. Oh yeah.

  16. ZAINAB MARKET. Minerva, you're a genius. I have exactly one day to shop for clothes to wear to our first family beach vacation. ZM's where I'm headed, for sure.

    Btw, never move to Houston. Women there manage to attend all those infernal dinners, lunches, brunches, teas, iftaris, younameits and wear a new outfit every time. It's HORRIBLE.

  17. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

    Deepak Perwani

  18. the prices of these dresses in pkr must be mention with each item.

    Asim Jofa

  19. Wow its outstanding work and brings you in dreams and in imagination, outstanding work you have shared thanks for it.

    Gul Ahmed