Pakistan may not be the first country that comes to mind as a hub for fashion, but four graduates of the Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design in Lahore are proving that it has as many hidden gems as London, New York and Paris.
“As soon as we graduated, we had to learn how to make our collections commercially successful for the market,” says Mohsin Ali, who graduated in 2010. “My work is always inspired by the Quetta and Balochistan regions of Pakistan, where I’m from. I still have so many stories to tell with my collections and so much inspiration there that I want to use.”
As with Mohsin, Akif Mahmood’s work explores the cultural significance of dress in rural Pakistan. The 26-year-old designer took inspiration from the Kalash tribe of Northern Pakistan for his collection on display at the High Commission, featuring rich embroidery and embellishment to mimic the region’s traditional use of heavy jewellery and accessories.
"We use our local regions as inspiration in our designs,” explains Mahmood. “You can’t find these embroideries anywhere else and they have been passed down through the villages and generations, so there are thousands of types that we can take from and use in our work.”
It is clear that this showcase of four collections reflects Pakistan’s rich heritage in dress, making it a garden of explorations for the country’s rising stars of fashion design.
The Pakistan Showcase continues until 22 February at the Pakistan High Commission, 34-36 Lowndes Square, London SW1X 9JN