Fashion under fire

“Fashion industry.” Bhai, kaan pukh gaye hain, yeh term sun, sun kay. Or as Jugnu Mohsin would say, my ears have cooked listening to this, this. Really, what on earth is this “fashion industry” in Pakistan? There is this weekend edition of one particular English newspaper that has gone on and on and on about the ins and outs, the trials and tribulations, the glory and the triumphs of the “Pakistani fashion industry.” And since I was once an employee there, I saw young journalists passionately discussing and then scribbling page after page about the “politics” (read gossip), the conspiracy theories (read speculative gossip) and growth (read delusional gossip), within the “Pakistani fashion industry.” I mean, for instance, did you know there’s a “war” going on between Lahori fashionistas and Karachi fashionistas? The particular newspaper has taken out issue after issue, story after story, “analysis” after “analysis”, on this highly important cultural topic. So much so that the common weekend newspaper reader who still doesn’t know much about this crucial socio-politico-economico-artistico war starts feeling like a downright pathetico-culturalo-vulturalo! And he/she should! I mean how dare he call himself educated and modern and not know about this vital issue? Anyway, so, yes, according to our passionate “fashion journalists” there’s a war on. And the fashionistas agree (of course they do, they’re the ones fighting it, right?). Actually, the “war” is really no more than extended bitching sessions between designers, hair stylists, models and the fashion journalists, but I guess, this time around they decided to give what is spouted in these sessions a serious and ominous tone, especially via the services of the weekend edition of the newspaper I was talking about. But, of course, I wont spoil the fun by looking at this the way it is, instead of treating it as the way it most certainly isn’t. Made sense? No? Perfect. So, yes, ladies and gentlemen, the wonders of the “fashion industry.” Do you know what an important economic role this industry is playing? Yes, this is the first thing an industry apologist will blabber out if and when confronted by a skeptical, shabby looking cynic, who puts down the fashionistas as nothing more than powdered baits for quick corporate bucks, rich auntie interests, sponsorship-hungry TV channels and weekend newspaper spreads. I’ve been hearing this argument for years now, but in spite of going through book after book by both left-wing and as well as neo-con economists, I just simply fail to understand the “economic angle” of our “fashion industry.” How on earth is it beneficial to the country’s economy? Did Lexington say this in The Economist? And is Lexington really Batool Rizvi? I mean, I can understand how a port in Gawadar or even a guy selling Balochi khajoor in Empress Market in Karachi contributes to the economy, but how on earth can a Kuku, Kiki, Mimi or Seemi ever contribute to the economy the way they say they do? “Uncouth Jahil!” That’s what they would say about people like me. Or “jealous,” as they describe people like my good friend, Fasi Zaka, who is far more sympathetic towards the lot, even though only if they could hear him gossip about them with me. Yes, we gossip as well, but, we being far more intelligent, (as opposed to them being a lot more clever), we call it an insightful and intellectual discourse on the cultural and social pathos and ethos of upper crust Pakistanis. Makes a huge difference. But, no, seriously, have you ever seen a person like Feriha Altaf speak? She’s so forceful (read very loud), while arguing the merits of a “healthy fashion industry,” that one feels if she even goes slightly a notch higher in her verbal forcefulness, a string of red mustache will suddenly break out over her upper lip! And the moment that happens, she should certainly expect a call from a Pakistani Taleban group asking her to become their female spokesperson, even though most probably it seems the reactionaries believe that in Islam there are no women, just men and goats. Perfect. Because it seems in fashion there are neither men nor women, just battery-powered mannequins receiving awards by bulimic soap-making companies for turning anorexia nervosa into a fashion statement! Ah, this gets me to what bothers me the most about the antics of our “fashion industry.” After an insightful intellectual discourse on the cultural and social pathos and ethos of upper crust Pakistanis with two of my office’s drivers, I am now convinced that the “art” (read glorified exhibitionism) practiced by the fashionistas that is so enthusiastically televised and splashed across newspapers, is at least one reason that gives “liberalism” such a bad name in this country. The truth is, ever since the late 80s, it has been these fashionistas that have helped create numerous backlashes, leaving the usually dimwit reactionaries believing that each and every liberal or moderate Pakistani behaves and dresses like these bubbled in nitwits! This is a rather bothersome phenomenon, especially for modernists or post-modernists like, say, Fasi Zaka and post-post-modernists like me. Think about it, why, instead of things like democracy, freedom of expression, equal rights, gender equality, modern education, and progress, should the liberals of this country be judged by the reactionaries with what they see Ali Zafar doing with a bar of soap, or Vaneeza contemplating so seriously about having a nose job, or Tariq Amin babbling incoherent loud nothings … I mean, can you imagine the state of mind all those reactionaries in Gujranwallah or Waziristan would get in after watching a so-called style awards ceremony on television? “Islam khatray main!” That’s the first thing that comes to their mind. “Fahasi!” That’s the next. And then, of course, we eventually end up having things like ritualistic CD and DVD burning ceremonies, blackened billboards and a plethora of very 9th Century sounding fatwas! Believe me, had the TV stations spend more time running documentaries proving the scientific accuracy of things like Evolution and Darwinism, there would be far less reaction and a lot more education. But no. The first sign of an opening up in society is always scrambled upon and hijacked by the mannequins, who, eventually and unfortunately, become the face of Pakistani liberalism. Get ‘em off, already! Seriously, forget about the dimwit reactionaries in the mountains of Waziristan or the madressas of Gujranwallah, even normally sensible people like Imran Khan point towards the mannequins while attacking Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation,” even though it is also true that people like Imran (and Asma Jihangir) sound more like emotional blobs of rampant novice babblings when it comes to politics, but that’s another story. However, during a recent insightful and intellectual discourse on the cultural and social pathos and ethos of upper crust Pakistanis that I had with Fasi, I discovered yet another startling and important truth. A truth that can seriously affect the great wonders our “fashion industry” is doing to the Pakistani economy and on the artistic, stylish and sexy way the gallant purveyors of the industry are playing the role of being the face of Pakistani liberalism. And I also suggest the fashion-obsessed weekend edition to run a series of articles (and big, eight-column pictures) of this truth which is: Fasi Zaka is desperate to have an affair with a famous Pakistani fashion model. However, his innocent, purple-hearted dream was recently shattered when his agent (and our mutual colleague), Ali Rizvi, failed to get him a slot in the wonderful entourage of fashionistas that traveled to Malaysia for a glamorous, breathtaking style awards ceremony. Did he really think he too can become the face of Pakistani liberalism? I tell you, too many insightful and intellectual discourses on the cultural and social pathos and ethos of upper crust Pakistanis can bring upon a very dangerous kind of fatigue. The sort that can ruin your career and vital romantic plans. But what will happen to the economy? Over to Lexington.

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  • Ismael Pflugh  On January 8, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Fashion, fashion and and more fashion! That’s the spirit keep it up.


  • By Marasi Culture Part 2 « Gallavanting Escapades on September 26, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    [...] life, I have sunk so low, I have found his blog). Its quite true what he’s saying about the fashionista types, I mean… what does ‘’a new modern, liberal Pakistan” mean? These [...]

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