Pakistan takes to the fashion runways

Thu Nov 5, 2009 9:15am EST
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By Sahar Ahmed

KARACHI (Reuters Life!) - Pakistan took fashion to the runways this week hoping to promote a more glamorous side of a nation better-known worldwide for violence and militant extremism.

Twice delayed over security concerns, the four-day Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW) opened on Wednesday to show off the wares of 30 of the country's top designers along with 30 of its top models.

The dash of Milan in the conservative Muslim nation's financial capital comes against the backdrop of rising attacks by Taliban militants in retaliation to an army offensive against its stronghold in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border.

"We are being proactive rather than reactive and so the show must go on," said Rizwan Beyg, a member of Fashion Pakistan and one of the country's leading designers. "Pakistan is much more than Kalashinkovs and bombs."

Models strutted in short or backless dresses or showed bare midriffs, as they displayed the brightly colored designs, which qualified as racy by Pakistani standards.

"Life goes on and we have to live," said Ayesha Tammy Haq, chief executive of FPW. "We need jobs to continue, we need the job market to grow ... fashion is a big thing. Let's make it bigger."

Although there is a war going on in Pakistan and FPW could be a target, most of those present seemed relaxed, even if there was some concern before the show began.

"I am definitely scared," said Nadia Hussain, one Pakistan's top female models, as she got ready to take to the runway.   Continued...

<p>Fashion model Iraj, wearing a creation by Pakistani designer Sonya Battla, is photographed backstage before taking the catwalk during Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi November 4, 2009. REUTERS/Adrees Latif</p>