My first visit to a lawn exhibition in Pakistan

Published: February 17, 2013
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At starting prices of Rs2,000 per suit, I think it’s fair to say she spent an excessive amount of money that day. PHOTO: AFP

I don’t quite understand how it happened, but 15 hours after landing in Karachi on a beautiful sunny day, I found myself at my first designer lawn exhibition.

Over the last few years, I’d heard a lot about the way this industry has changed from one selling moderately priced cotton, to a market awash with “designer” prints and labels.

My friend and I (we’ll call her S) were on our way to the newly opened Dolmen Mall in Clifton when she turned and asked if I fancied visiting my first designer lawn exhibition.

What’s a girl to say?

Yes!

So we pulled up outside Rizwan Beyg’s (long-standing designer of gorgeous bridal dresses) exhibition, held in a large marquee in Clifton. Actually ‘large’ probably isn’t the word; I’ve been to weddings in marquees that are smaller than this place.

The walls were lined with tables, laden with fabrics and materials in different colours and prints, so the shopper could wander and choose the design they wanted, with the help of a very eager sales assistant. In the middle of this enormous place were several mannequins dressed in the designs on sale!

The first thing that struck me was just how busy the place was. There were so many women, young and old, very well-dressed, often with a Blackberry in hand debating about what they planned to order.

And the clothes!

It was incredible to see just how dressed up some of these ladies were. One woman appeared to wearing a suit that wasn’t wholly dissimilar to what I was planning on wearing to my cousin’s weddings a week later. Her hair was perfectly coiffed, her nails pristine and her make-up immaculate.

Clearly my linen trousers and gypsy top just wouldn’t do.

Not long after we walked in, I stopped to admire one particular design in a beautiful shade of blue and was subsequently pounced upon by an assistant.

Alas!

She seemed rather upset when I told her I had no intention of buying anything. However, she needn’t have worried for too long as she was approached by a lady who happily boasted about the fact that she had bought nine suits in the twenty minutes she had been there. Looks like she was well on her way to buying her tenth!

At starting prices of Rs2,000 per suit, I think it’s fair to say she spent an excessive of money that day. I wonder if she spent that amount at every exhibition she attended.

A few tables along, we spotted a woman being trailed by a man, notepad in hand, and clearly hanging on to her every word. We deduced that must have been her tailor as she yelled orders at him and ignored his opinion as to why the material she wanted to buy wouldn’t fit her exacting requirements. You had to feel for the guy as he eventually gave in and nodded along.

As we prepared to leave, I overheard a woman in her early 20s chatting with her friend about how bored she was at yet another lawn exhibition,

“You know, they really need to think about introducing some singers to liven these things up.”

Maybe that’s the next step for Pakistan’s lawn exhibitions.

Natasha Akhtar

Natasha Akhtar

A caseworker with a passion for reading, cinema going, politics and wandering.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.