New kids on the bloc: spotlight on Kiev Fashion Days A/W 2017

In freezing temperatures of -8C to -14C, the A/W 2017 fashion weeks got underway with Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days. With fashion currently enthralled with 1980s and 90s post-Soviet style, the gaze is on a generation of designers who are building businesses and brands in Russia and in the former USSR states, including Ukraine and Georgia.

Only a few days before the event, the persistent conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine flared up again. And while Kiev's creative community is tense, it's determined to show off its best work.

The conflict is happening. But fashion is a business that contributes to the economy and we cannot and do not want to stop. Designers are paying salaries. This is an industry about beautiful girls and beautiful clothes. When the war was at its peak in 2014, we did cancel fashion week but not now – we need to show the good part of Ukraine. Its a question of raising the economy of the region, says Daria Shapovalova, the founder of the event (established in 2009) and who via the Parisian sales and PR platform More Dash has helped put Ukrainian designers on the fashion map. The pioneering 29-year-old recently featured in the arts category o Forbes' 30 under 30 Europe.

What is remarkable about these designers is their relative youth, talent, determination and clear vision. Former model-turned-designer Anna Karenina is 21 and runs her own Anna K label, that speaks to a young generation of savvy, feminist woman who love her witty t-shirts (a hit at Colette) and techno/girly cheap prom dresses. Staging her collection at the newly opened TsUM department store, she sent out smock-detailed pink taffeta dresses, pretty flock velvet outsize tunics and walked the catwalk herself wearing a t-shirt reading Dont Love Me Do.

Anna October started out aged 20. The collection titled No Knowledge, No Fear reflects the ethos of the 26-year-old designer, who trained in pattern cutting and fine arts. Her forte is pretty, feminine clothes, in subtle colourways with beautiful detailing including smocking and braiding. I want to make something useful that women feel happy in, says October. In the atmospheric surroundings of a disused Soviet-era department store, models paraded cold shoulder silk dresses, lumberjack check blouses and mom jeans infused with a joie de vivre and sense of cool.

The light elegant touch is also to be found at FLOW The Label, founded by Viktoriia Balaniuk and Veronika Vez, who showed retro-tinged, strong shouldered glen-check jackets and wispy high-necked silk crepe dresses influenced by 70s French films.

One to watch is Chakshyn, headed by the 22-year-old designers Dima Chayun and Anton Yakshyn. They looked at robotics and the botanical world in their patchwork knit dresses and charming cherry blossom print puffa jackets.

The standout of the week was Litkovskaya. Its thirtysomething designer, Lilia Litkovskaya, took over the atmospheric basketball hall of a Soviet-era physical education university, the walls lined with portraits of Ukrainian Olympiads. She has a strong, empowered vision of woman and is a wizard at cutting. There were sculpted reversible puffa bomber jackets with couture embroideries, leather shirts inspired by historical fencing clothing worn by medieval knights and swishing shirt dresses boasting fluttering embroidered silk chiffon skirts. Both the athletic beauties that modelled and the rave anthem soundtrack were powerful reminders of the confidence and beauty great design can give you, wherever you are in the world.

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Fashion Pakistan Week Spring/Summer 2017 gets shorter

Pakistani fashion may still subject us to far too many fashion weeks a year but the events have certainly gotten more streamlined. There have been conscious – though not often successful – efforts to start and end the events on time and councils endeavour to stick to the calendar that they announce several months before their seasonal events. FPC didnt manage to do so this time around.

Merely a few days ago, updates were mailed out by FPWs digital team, urging print and electronic media to mark calendars for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of February for the biggest Fashion Pakistan Week yet.

The three-day event will now be a two-day show; what does this say about the Fashion Pakistan Council?

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Media may now readjust their calendars and aim for the 22nd and 23rd of February.

Quality over quantity?

Why did the council have this change of heart just 12 days before FPW? Budgetary cuts? Lack of organisation? According to the FPC, its neither of the two.

We didnt want to create a mish-mash by just taking anyone and everyone on board. Wed rather focus on quality content,” explains FPC CEO Nida Azwer. "We have some very good designers as part of the FPW lineup while weve opted to let the newer ones take part in our Millennial show, which is tentatively scheduled for August this year."

It is our plan to offer deserving young labels free slots. An external jury will be enlisted to watch the show and shortlist designers who will then be afforded scholarships by the council,” she continues. Perhaps, then, some of them can fine-tune their work and show at the next FPW.”

It all sounds very altruistic and certainly, the future of Pakistani fashion can only be paved by guiding and supporting new talent. One is also aware that FPW has hitherto acted as a springboard for myriad fledgling labels, like Feeha Jamshed, Zaheer Abbas, Adnan Pardesy and Nida Azwer.

Still, couldnt the FPC have decided upon dates earlier? A last-minute change hints at disorganisation within the council and one remembers, all too clearly, the last time FPW got reduced to two days, back in 2013. 25 designers were implausibly squeezed into two days, leading to an endless exhausting monologue and utter fashion ennui.

Fortunately, it is expected that the fashion week schedule will not be quite as grueling this time. Touted as highlights for the show is a Fashion DNA segment as well as a show dedicated to sustainable craft. There is also going to be a combined showcase by some of the countrys most illustrious designers, honouring the councils decade-long run in the business. Leading designers like Bunto Kazmi, Shehla Chatoor, Umar Sayeed, Sana Safinaz and Shamaeel Ansari have been enlisted to showcase capsule lines.

In addition, designers Deepak Perwani, Maheen Khan, Amir Adnan, Tena Durrani, Arsalan Iqbal, Nauman Arfeen and Nida Azwer, among others, will be featured in individual shows.

What's unique this year?

The Fashion DNA segment is a venture by the British Council which is now in its second year. Promising ateliers are handpicked by the British Council, trained and mentored extensively and then given the chance to showcase in London at the Fashion Scouts segment of London Fashion Week. On returning to Pakistan, this years Fashion DNA entourage - The Pink Tree Company, Gulabo, Sonya Battla, Munib Nawaz, Jeem by Hamza Bokhari and Zuria Dor – will proceed to showcase their collections on local grounds at FPW.

The designer lineup for the sustainable craft segment, meanwhile, is quite small. Apparently, Yousuf Bashir Qureshi was originally supposed to be part of the segment. The designer ended up backing out when due to some hitches, he was unable to procure the fabric required for his collection. Similarly, Noorjehan Bilgrami of Koel would have been a feather in FPWs cap. The designer, however, had travel plans and was unable to participate.

I think a show dedicated to sustainable craft is a very good idea and I do hope to be a part of it next time,” says Noorjehan. Unfortunately, Nida came up with the concept very late. By then, I had made other plans and besides, I didnt have a collection ready. As a designer who rarely takes part in a show, I need to put my best foot forward whenever I put my designs in the spotlight. I cant take something off my clothing racks and rustle something together.”

One collection that may just highlight sustainable craft in the best possible light could be by Inaaya. The ethically responsible brand with its painstaking handcraft and multi-tiered statement jewelry has been away from the limelight for far too long and it will be interesting to see what it puts forward on the catwalk.

Its very important to highlight sustainable craft. Indigenous handwork is trending around the world but aside from being very marketable, we also need to nurture it so that it does not die out altogether,” points out Nida, who will also be featured in the segment. Unfortunately, a lot of people still dont understand what a segment like this entails which is why right now, its going to form a very small part of FPW.”

Theres no denying that a shorter fashion week which is high on fashion content is a far better option than a long one with abysmal fashion. One hopes, then, that the shorter FPW manages to make some strong fashion statements. Capsule collections by illustrious ateliers may be pleasing but standout individual lines are particularly what ones looks forward to at a fashion week. It would have certainly been more interesting had FPW featured more of the latter.

Nevertheless, ones hopes that the fashion week delivers. The FPC is celebrating a decade now and it has been instrumental in building the business of fashion in the country. It is a serious business now. 10 years down the line, one expects the FPC to be truly serious about it.

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Golden Globes 2017: All the best fashion looks from this year's awards

Awards season kick-started last night with the Golden Globes with Hollywood royalty coming out in full force to crown the best acting performances in film and television from the past year.

While La La Land dominated the awards, Meryl Streep dominated the speeches with her takedown of the President-elect Donald Trump.

While the awards are often seen as a forecast for the winners of the Academy Awards in February, the outfits worn by the stars signal the red carpet trends we can expect for the rest of the season..

While Emma Stone, Priyanka Chopra and Emily Ratajkowskis traditional glamorous red prom dresses ukturned heads, there were some who shunned the red carpet conventions.

Westworlds Evan Rachel Wood and Hidden Figures Octavia Spencer both rebuffed stereotypes by wearing suits to the ceremony. Wood later explained her outfit choice: I love dresses, Im not trying to protest dresses but I wanted to make sure that young girls and women knew that they arent a requirement”. She later credited David Bowie, who would have turned 70 on Sunday, as fashion inspiration.

From Sarah Jessica Parkers eye-catching Vera Wang red cocktail dressto Donald Glovers burgundy suit, click through the gallery to see the best looks from this years ceremony.

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