PIA taxiing on the fashion runway – finally!

Published: March 17, 2015
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It was never about designers demonstrating their fashion prowess, but about how they can come up with a contemporary design good enough for it to be called a uniform.

 Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has had its fair share of ups and downs in the past, but recently, PIA seems to be changing things up for good.

One of those drastic, but essential, changes has been the recent initiative to change their uniforms. Looking back at PIA’s history, you will see how much the uniform of the ground and cabin crew mattered.

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

From PIA’s first flight to the first air hostess uniform design in June 1954 which consisted of the three toned shalwar kameez – mustard, sea green and rust – along with the tweed jacket, skirt, blouse, a matching cap and the floral patterned dupatta by Ms Riffat Yasmin, there has been a signature look of our PIA air hostesses. Of course, it has seen many transformations over the years, but the main look has remained consistent and appealing.

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

For the men, their dark coloured double-breasted jacket with golden buttons has remained essentially the same. That is, until now.

Photo: PIA

Photo: PIA

PIA recently decided to reinvent their crew uniform and enlisted some local designers, who are nationally and internationally renowned, to get their creative juices running and help them create a wardrobe that is timeless, yet classy and sticks to the legacy that is PIA.

Fifteen designers were chosen to showcase their work at a recently held fashion show. The chosen designers included Maheen KhanShamaeel Ansari, Sonya Batla, Amir Adnan, Nida AzwerIsmail Farid, Omer Farooq, Fahad HussaynMaheen KarimMisha Lakhani, Sania Maskatiya, Yasmeen Sheikh, Shamoon Sultan of Khaadi, Ali Zeeshan and HSY. The judges’ panel comprised of leading names such as Tariq Amin, Zeba Bakhtiar, Seema Iftekhar, Shahnaz Ismail, Naz Mansha, Rabya Javeri and Shakil Saigol. It must be kept in mind that even though the competition was tough, the designers on board did everything free of charge.

History girls of PIA on the show. Photo: Catalyst PR

Design by Yasmeen Sheikh. Photo: Catalyst PR

Design by Yasmin Sheikh. Photo: Catalyst PR

Being aware of the aforementioned designers’ work, one could have expected tough competition, as it is very difficult to stick to one’s signature look and create a wardrobe so essentially mundane.

The task was not easy, and neither was the verdict. The designers knew what they were getting into and played their cards extremely well. The winning designers were Sania Maskatiya for her cap design, Yasmeen Sheikh for her coat design, Republic by Omer Farooq for menswear, and Nomi Ansari for women’s wear.

Design by Nomi Ansari. Photo: Catalyst PR

Design by Omer Farooq. Photo: Catalyst PR

Design by Sania Maskatiya. Photo: Catalyst PR

Design by Sania Maskatiya. Photo: Catalyst PR

Comparing the works of the winning designers with what the PIA crew wore in the past, it only makes sense to have chosen the winners accordingly. It was never about designers demonstrating their fashion prowess, but about how a designer can come up with a contemporary design good enough for it to be called a uniform, considering the fact that uniforms are dull and will always be timeless, even if the designer’s signature keeps evolving.

It was about stopping in time to think if the crew could pull this look off for another couple of years and whether the clothes presented had the timelessness to their silhouettes or not.

Here is to hoping that PIA not only becomes “Great People to Fly With” but also, “Stylish People to Fly With”.

Haseeb Sultan

Haseeb Sultan

The author is is a dentist, writer, and an artist. He blogs at blog.haseebsultan.com and tweets at @haseebsultan_ (twitter.com/haseebsultan_)

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