You can almost sense a powerhouse effect on the audience on a breezy night in Karachi as if the city has woken up from a deep slumber on a lazy Sunday. Going solo was long overdue for Shehla Chatoor who summed up her entire experience of 20 plus years in the fashion industry with the collection that not just spelt ornate but broke many grounds. One witnessed great moments on the ramp, trends that showed the signature strength of the brand’s ethos, the collection bore a progressive International fashion face and the collaboration to flaunt about with international shoe and accessory designer, Sophia Webster. But then edgy and distinct, individuality brings a catalyst for change for the bridal scene in Pakistan. A wonderfully orchestrated, amply charged up ambience set up as a perfect mileu was a reminder of how Karl Lagerfield had transformed the grand Palais into a forest at the Chanel fall/winter show. Finding one self in the midst of the an enchanted forest amongst the illuminating lights and sweet music echoing in the air-except that this is not the actual setting but a concept orchestrated to pay ode to Shehla’s artisanal Nur-e-Alaleh or the light from a heavenly flower. While talking to the show choreographer, Frieha Altaf who said that she had mostly done shows on old venues to bring light to the buildings. “I was so excited when I heard about this possible venue which has never been used for any show.” The 75 year old ancestral mansion belongs to a Parsi family who graciously lent their historic abode for the showcase that looked like a leaf out from an international show. Carving out a beautiful jungle scene was no mean task as it entailed details that couldn’t be overlooked. ‘A ramp was a must so we had to build the pathway with an Astroturf for the models to walk down,’ said Shehla while talking to Daily Times. To its credit the idea of setting up a stage akin to a scene out of the woods was conceived by Shehla Chatoor when she was on a holiday in France, last summer. ‘The idea was to build up the mood and bring authenticity to the environment with the free-floating images of doves hanging from the installations. Amina Rashid Khan of RAKA events rose to the occasion and made full use of a canopy with low hung white streamers greenery added images that were a treat to one’s eyes. The pathway was littered with white flowers and pebbles, the twisted tree twigs swathed in green affects and paper trimmings added much realism. A sight to behold was the archway featuring white flowers for a calming feel. Leaving one’s heart longing for more was the breathtaking showcase that was a complete fashion experience for many. Going solo was long overdue for Shehla Chatoor who summed up her entire experience of 20 plus years in the fashion industry with the collection that not just spelt ornate but broke many grounds Who’s who in attendance The entire place was given a makeover to attract a horde of crème de la crème. Standing out in finesse was a multitude of power-packed celebrities that seemed to enjoy the proceedings as the evening set in. One spotted veteran designer Mahin Khan, who still holds the charm that she rightfully possesses. Bunto Kazmi sat next to her daughter-in law Seher Kazmi both in all-white ensembles without a speck of embellishment. Karachi, as compared to Lahore, still remains understated, classy without a bling in sight. Sorry for the disappointment, but there was none of the tantrum that is usually associated with social aunties attending fashion events decked up in all their finery nor there was any fight on the front seat which rightfully belonged to the media in attendance for a perfect capture of shot. One noticed, there was no bruising of ego on the choice of front row seating for Safinaz of Sana Safinaz who attended the show while seated in the third row. Read -much appreciated and also the humiliating statement of exchange where are you sitting is not important anymore? The crowed came to witness high quality fashion and that is what they got. Doing everything right with a collection that was dominant with hand encrusted pearls, crystals, ribbon patterns floral jaal and textures layering over sheer fabric. There is an abundant use of delicate handcrafted exotic birds, butterfly motifs, transposed onto a medley of ruffles. Going from morning to dusk the collection began with dresses in powder blues and beiges and moving on to champagne and silver grey for evening wear. The silhouettes were a hybrid between eastern and western appeal. Setting off trends with an impeccable craftsmanship she sent out pieces that were timeless dripping in pure glam. Slim silhouettes ruled the runway for a modern bride, with strong statement accessories. There were wraps, boleros, tapered pants, off shoulder dresses, couture gowns, fish tail lehngas and the trails that would go on while keeping the overall mood quintessentially modern. With a decayed colour palette, she used her trademark luxe details on silks, lame` vintage velvet and tulle tuxedo jackets. The layering created a dream like vision for a bold look, artistry and trendy vibes. Jamming many trends together – tapered cuts, with less emphasis on volume and flare resembling costumes that looked classy on the runway. Short jackets with cold shoulder sleeves, plunging, peek-a-boo backs, sophisticated fringes and tassels completed the look. The Swarovski crystal work looked highly personalized and the comeback of velvet made it looked dramatic. People were quick to point out the choice of velvet as a fabric when the summer is in full flow in Pakistan. To which the designer replied, ‘we start taking orders at this time of the year for the weddings in December because each of our bridal take months to develop. A velvet bridal jorra is a top choice for winter brides which make it all the more important for us to showcase it at this time.” The subdued palette of mostly muted shades down to the most minor details, Nurealaleh gravitates toward those with a high-end fashion sensibility. Her clients break their wallets to get their hands on the tailored cuts with risqué elements which are statement pieces and are for keepsake. The writer is a freelance lifestyle and fashion journalist who can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, March 23rd 2018.