I don’t design clothes, said designer Ralph Lauren. “I design dreams.” But what happens when someone does both? The students at Iqra University’s Asian Institute of Fashion Design (AIFD) certainly have. In their new fashion film — touted as the first of its kind in Pakistan — they have combined high fashion designs, a dream-like concept and an abundance of youthful talent.
The film, conceptualised by AIFD Creative Director Faizan Dar, may have been filmed by Darang Production, but its essence was all student-led. Thirty-three students participated in creating the film, from its set to the clothes featured in it.
The film is titled Enchanted Odyssey — and enchanted it is, filled with dreamy visuals, flowing designs and beautiful models draped in swathes of colourful cloth. It was released in the beginning of December.
The process has been a year and a half in the making. Dar, now the school’s creative director, was approached by the CEO of AIFD, Maheen Lakhani Ahmer, to be part of her mission to steer the school on a new course. According to Dar, she recently returned to Pakistan after studying at the London a mission to take the school on a new course – she wanted to introduce the same curriculum as international organisations. she wanted the school to take a “u-turn”.
“The fashion and textile [teaching] scene in Pakistani isn’t comparable to what’s being done in the international scene, or even in India,” Dar said. They needed a revamp of an international scale and a revamp is what they got.
Last year, the students collaborated for a music video featured the very talented Maria Unera. This year, they spent 10 months on Enchanted Odyssey.
The project was put together by students from AIFD’s senior class. The seniors have to do two theses in their final year and were given the option of doing this project in lieu of their second thesis — obviously, everyone wanted to participate. Thirty-three students were selected and got to work on the project with Dar.
In order to create the “total fashion film,” the students researched, made mood boards, colour boards and prints. The prints, Dar told Images, were first made by hand and later turned into digital prints. The blocks and screens were created by hand and the team worked on the silhouettes as per the individual themes.
The students even took part in the set design process and were aided by Artisans’ Studio. They fleshed out the idea first, then the theme. And then they got to work on the storyline.
“They recycled a lot in the process and used scraps and leftovers,” said Dar, adding that they also bought materials at discounted rates because the school didn’t have an unlimited budget for the project. They collaborated with some well-known professionals for the project — such as Rhyan Thomas for hair and makeup — but the pros followed the students’ mood boards and ideas.
Through this project, Dar believes the students are taught skills no other school is teaching. When I was in the industry, I found that many designers weren’t able to push outside the box, he said, adding that even a basic kurta can be elevated. But he found little to no experimentation. He believes designers need to be prepared mentally and schools aren’t doing that.
But AIFD’s project isn’t all talk. To take up challenge that this video was too ‘conceptual’ and not practical, they’re creating a ready-to-wear line based on the collection. It’ll feature casual and semi-formal clothes both eastern and western. In the first drop, there will be nine looks, including five T-shirts from the psychedelic bliss section and two unstitched pieces — a sari and a velvet shawl.
Their brand, AIFD Prints, will be available at a pop-up shop on campus and online. There are also plans for an exhibition of the clothes. Production will be done come January.
Dar says they’re showcasing the strength of their students through the film because not everyone wants to be solely a fashion designer. But regardless of where they envision themselves after graduating, all the students are incredibly passionate about their work. “It’s different for designers. They don’t get the same respect as say doctors or engineers get. I asked them [the students] why they are choosing this field and they said they could have chosen another field and gotten more respect, but they chose this because they’re passionate about it,” he explained.
Through the film, they’re honouring creative individuals — artists, fellow designers and everyone else. The film itself is told through the eyes of a young girl and shows the journey of all creative individuals, Dar explained. The film is saying that your imagination can be as wild and crazy as you want.
According to Dar, it’s also conveying “the purpose of a designer” and the diversity of the AIFD and Iqra student body. He said they have students from different places and different backgrounds. “We wanted to translate their mental stresses into a video,” he explained.
This isn’t a one-time thing. Next time they’ll do a collection and video but it could be totally different.
But isn’t that the beauty of fashion and art — the ability to reinvent itself and showcase something completely new?
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