The ‘Deepak’ Philosophy!By The Partylicious • Mar 8th, 2010 • Category: Entertainment • No Responses
Some 15 years ago, Fifi Haroon tagged him as the bad boy of Pakistan’s Fashion Industry. Now, Deepak Perwani wants to shed off that image and is ready to be a nice boy. And it doesn’t stop there. He’s bored. Even though he has had a successful showcasing at Milan Fashion Week as recent as last September, his priorities and commitments have changed. Is it pride or is it maturity? What does Deepak Perwani: the brand and the man stand for after 17 years of excellence and carving a niche unparalleled to any other?
The PFDC Sunsilk Fashion week has just wrapped up barely a week ago. Even still the sheer magnitude of the event itself lingers. The second Fashion Week of Pakistan was a triumph. Not only did it defy extremism and boldly stood against the wave of terrorism engulfing Pakistan, it actually seems to be only thing going right for us in the international world. Immediately following the Fashion Week, I was invited to a special preview of the Deepak Perwani D Philosophy collection arranged by our good friend Aamir Mazhar of Savvy PR & Events. What better opportunity to sit down with the man of the moment himself for a chat about all things related to fashion, I thought.
At first, Deepak might strike you as a tall and arrogant man who has an air of pride about himself! While I was spot on with my observation regarding his height I failed miserably otherwise. Deepak Perwani is as humble a gentleman as they come. He’s affectionate and he smiles. He is cordial and jovial and he sure knows what he is talking about! Once the formalities were over, we sat down with a drink each in Café Aylanto that was right next to his store where the exhibition was taking place.
The D Philosophy collection, in its essence has evolved in to something huge. Not many would actually know its humble beginnings though. The collection was conceived as a result of a government led initiative some 3-4 years ago that saw Deepak actively participating as well as experimenting with long lost and dying embroidery techniques such as rallie, taanka, and kaandha etc. “About three years ago, AHAN (Aik Hunar Aik Nagar), a government project approached and proposed to me that I do something for the rural woman that in turn gives something back to the community.” he starts. “We worked with these women for six months and taught them what they can create out of cloth. The principle employed was the utilization of given resources and material. We taught them that you can even make mobile or cushion covers out of clothes that had gone old and were intended to be thrown away. It was both a skill as well as a mean to earning money for the work done.” This is what really worked for D Philosophy and for Deepak. The initiative he was assisting in catered to minimal exercise where even if your resources and skill set is minimal you can still make something out of virtually nothing. After working with the rural women for two years Deepak felt it was now time to do a collection and show it to a broader community. “The first time we showcased the D Philosophy collection was at the Pakistan High Commission in London and it was sold out in 20 minutes flat!” He says with a glint of excitement. “Since we wanted it to be something that gives back to Pakistan’s rural community, we made sure that the sale of the collection was done in such a way that Rs. 100-200 per piece went back to the woman who had actually made it.” The collection on display at the store was the one he had shown at Milan Fashion Week last summer and from its moderate beginnings, it had really evolved in to a colorful and very fresh assortment that exuded undertones of happiness. “When we went to Milan we wanted to take something that was unique and very Pakistani at the same time,” Deepak recalls. “We called the collection Flights of Fantasy because it was inspired by the trucks that run on our highways from one corner of the country to the other and the beautiful art that is displayed on them.”
Having already showcased the D Philosophy collection in London, New York and as recent as Dubai, the prime motive behind the scheduled collections in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi is not sales. “I want people to see something that is quintessentially Pakistani and how something so small as a traditional cloth for wrapping bread (dastar khwaan) can grow in to something so big.”
We got on to talking about the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week that ended a day before on such a high note. Deepak was immediately reenergized as he spoke with fervor about how exciting and positive this has been for Pakistan and Pakistani Fashion Industry. The Fashion Pakistan Week held last November in Karachi was the first step in the international arena of fashion shows for us and it is nothing short of a grand feat to have the country’s second Fashion Week happening within a span of less than 3 months. While Deepak was more of a spectator than a participant at the Fashion Week in Lahore, he did walk for Ammar Belal and Rehana Saigol and loved it. “I am here from Karachi specifically to support the Fashion Designers and the Media. Walking for Ammar and Rehana Saigol was an absolute delight for me because I love their works. Nomi Asari’s collection was so marvelous. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing in terms of concept and presentation from the start till the end. The color, the finish, and the cut – it seemed like everything came on alive. It made you get up and feel happy, literally. And of course, Lahore is absolutely fabulous – the weather, the people, the food. I love coming back here.”
The Karachi Fashion week was of course held at a time when suicide bombings and waves of terrorism swept through the city. No wonder it has been the boldest of steps taken by the designers, and the organizers alike. Talking about any visible differences for the better or for the worse when putting the two Fashion Week’s side by side Deepak says, “At times in Karachi, we used to wonder if it would ever take place to begin with. With Lahore, things were so much better. Not to forget, the choice of Royal Palm as a venue was far more secure than the one we had in Karachi. Besides that though, everything else in both the events was international level. The ramp, the people, the presentation, the openings and the finales, the after parties; it was like any other Fashion Week be it in London, Milan, or New York.”
At the same time, Deepak rightly admits that there is always room for improvement. For Pakistani Designers and our Fashion Industry, the exposure is perhaps just was needed. “Fashion cannot just be about the fashion designers. Fashion is more about the business of fashion. How it is created and how it is showed, and how collections need to come out.” Deepak strongly believes that designers need to separate themselves from the brand’s marketing, advertising and selling and only concentrate on design. “We definitely learned a lot and there is still a lot more to learn. Milan was really an eye opener. We got to meet people who are actually managing the fashion designers and even there are people who find talents for designers and would hook you up with factories who can produce for you.” Next summer will see them back on the ramp at the Milan Fashion Week. “It’s a general rule of thumb”, Deepak explains, “that if you need to be taken seriously at any international fashion week, you have to show your collections for at least three times. The requirement is that the buyers and/or the audience must see the sustainability of a designer’s collection over season after season, and after season. There is no room for one hit wonders. I’m really excited not just for myself but the fact that somebody from Pakistan went there and was part of it. That is something we should all be proud of immensely.”
Known more for being a men’s wear designer than women’s wear, Deepak feels his forte is still men’s wear. Perhaps the 5-6 Lux Style Awards he has bagged for his exquisite men’s wear supports the fact. It wasn’t until some 4-5 years ago that he started venturing in to Eastern wear for women. “I believed that the ideology of the Deepak Parwani woman had changed. She had grown up, she was not a young girl any more, and she wanted to move on in life. That’s when the women’s collection was reborn and we went in to Eastern wear.” So what mindset/strata do the typical Deepak Perwani clients belong to I asked. Deepak’s collections are wild and bold. They portray royalty and expensive tastes and are definitely not for the faint hearted or people who don’t like spontaneous changes. “The typical Deepak Perwani client,” he carries on, “is someone who is exciting, not afraid to wear color, someone who loves fashion and is acceptable to change. To me fashion evolves really, really fast. So our ideal clientele is one that loves innovation and trying out something new. Be it the Deepak Parwani man or women, they are fun, outgoing, and love to live a good life.”
There are some exciting expansions planned for the brand itself. By the end of 2010, Deepak is looking at a total of 9 stores across Pakistan with their 5th store planned for a launch in a month’s time in Karachi. Before 2012, this number is expected to grow to 14. They are adding a third supplier in London and will soon be supplying to Singapore as well. Deepak, no wonder, is a busy man with a lot on his mind. But he has the most interesting of ways to cure his boredom. It is after all a given after doing what he does for 17 years.” I get bouts of boredom all the time and how I deal with them is by doing dramas on television. But other than that, in terms of my involvement in the world of fashion and Fashion Weeks, I strongly believe that now is the time for the younger and promising lot to come forward and be promoted. I am tired of travelling and living in and out of suitcases. The slots for me at the Columbo and Malaysian Fashion Week have now gone to younger designers and I support that move.” Does this mean Deepak Perwani is going to take it easy from now onwards? Not really. With age and experience, Deepak is now looking at the Fashion World in a completely different light. His passion and energy still remains high but in terms of Fashion Weeks, he only want to indulge in ventures that would get him to see the business of fashion and not just for mere showing purposes.
We got back to talking about a very common statement often heard about designers being limited or intimidated by social and cultural pressures to bring about their true potential and talents. Deepak dismissed that out rightly. “I personally think Musharraf’s time was a brilliant time for us. Fashion and media were opened up more than they had ever been before. You now have more news, fashion and entertainment channels and magazines than ever before. When did this ever happen before? Before this expansion, everything was always so hush-hush with a million restrictions or limitations. Frankly speaking, we need to have a strong platform for fashion in the international media because right now it is the only thing that is looking positive for us in the face of sheer chaos ripping throughout the country. Music is doing its part. Film sadly is already dead. We need something in terms of art and culture to supplement a softer image and to counter the negative media and opinions coming out of Pakistan. The only thing going right for us is fashion because it is truly international!”
I couldn’t agree more with him on the fact that the boost media and fashion has attained in recent times has been an exponential one. Perhaps that is why Deepak’s personal favorites amongst his collections are the likes of his Royal Albert Hall, London collection and his Peacock collection at Lux Style Awards. “I did the collection for Royal Albert Hall back in the time when Gen Musharraf was in power. The collection was a men’s wear and was based on Hamid Karzai and is still one of my favorites. Then here was a collection we did at the Lux Style Awards that was called Peacock. It was both men’s wear and women’s wear collection. Lastly, of course, the Flights of Fantasy/D Philosophy collection that is very near and dear to me.”
I probed a little as to whether there still are any religious sanctions or the general conservative mindset of our masses that is holding Pakistani fashion back from spreading its wings. “I really don’t think so,” Deepak responds with a smile. “Our designers are so amazing and brave. We pick up a clean palette of a fabric and create wonders with it. No one really stops us from doing that. Even personally, I’ve always done what I’ve wanted to do and I’ve gotten away with it. If I wouldn’t have done so, I wouldn’t be called Deepak Parwani!”
The exhibition was filling up and I felt it was time to wrap things up and let Deepak attend to his guests. Talking about his favorites, he loves Nadia Hussain as the best model to work with. In terms of designers and their works, he admires them all really. “Gone are the days when you had a mere handful of designers. You have such a vast pool of talented designers now each bringing their special signature styles to the marker and it’s impossible really to pick one or two favorites now.”
The US Consulate General, Carmella Conroy, who was in attendance at his exhibition, loved the collection. She termed it as modern and fashionable, yet reasonably priced and very Pakistani. Fellow designers Ammar Belal, Sadaf Malaterre, Asifa & Nabeel, Rehana Saigol, Omar Mansoor, Feeha Jamshed, Faraz Manan, Maheem Karim, and Sobia Nazir were among many who showed up in support of Deepak Perwain that night and loved his choice of colors, cut, and finish.
At the end of it all, when I asked Deepak how he would classify Deepak Perwani the brand in just one word, his response needed no contemplation: “Sexy!”
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
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Fauzan spearheads the exclusive events & entertainment portal: PARTYLICIOUS [Www.Partylicious.Com.Pk] in the capacity of Head of Operations. He has a keen eye for detail and a passion for writing both critical and humorous pieces. A true Saggi to the core, he loves the outdoors and hates routines.
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