Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Working Backstage at Pakistan Fashion Week

Me with Seeta and Sima
There's always an aura and feel of being backstage at a fashion show that you see on television. The madness, the divas and the tantrums. I wish I could tell you that that's not really the case...and that we live in a world where there isn't a resounding hierarchy in a supposed materialistic industry as 'fashion'- But I would be lying. Disguised as a dresser, but actually a blogger -the unmitigated pandemonium that I experienced this weekend at 'Pakistan Fashion Week'  (Being held in Kensington, London) was jaw dropping.

Being a somewhat undercover observer,  I would have thought 'up and coming' models would have lapped up this opportunity to strut their willowy selves on the runway. Nonetheless, the amount of unprofessionalism I witnessed was at times torture. I was under strict orders to replace models straight away if they threw a tantrum (some were eventually replaced). This was put to the test early on in the weekend when I had an encounter with a model who was trying to change her make-up in the toilets. It didn't go down too well and we both walked away from each other stressed, red faced and angry. Later on I saw her approaching me again and I thought to myself 'oh god here we go again'...but to my surprise she grabbed me and apologized....something about being Welsh which made her sound rude apparently. Hey, immense respect to her. I apologized back and MY GOD felt so much better. However,that model run-in wasn't as big as the 'great' MEHREEN SYED.

Princess Mehreen Syed
Mehreen was flown in from Pakistan. The 'supermodel'. With years in the industry every designer wanted her as their 'show stopper'. It didn't matter that she offended all the other models and staff. It also didn't matter that people were pushed out of the way by Mehreen's skeletal frame....that orders were barked across the room.....that backstage photographers were ordered to stop taking photos, that I was told to 'shut up and not speak if I didn't know anything'. Oh and did I mention that it also didn't matter that on the second day of the show she took hostage of the ladies loo. Her fragile assistant turned desperate girls away whenever they entered the toilet. Personally I forced myself in. The assistant whispered at me to hurry up before Mehreen arrived. Grief and panic were etched across her face. I took my time. I have 99 problems but a b*itch ain't one.

Charlotte Girdwood
One millionth of the chaos
Racks of clothes
Curiosity got the better of me and I came home and googled Mehreen. Yes I'm not ashamed to admit that. I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I watched a couple videos and wanted to jump through the computer screen and scream, yell and kick up a fuss that she wasn't as lovey dovey, humble and grounded as she mimicked in her interviews!!! On the other hand I have to give some other models credit. In particular, Harriadnie Beau and Charlotte Girdwood- extremely professional and great to work with! Also, all the male models were relaxed, carefree and changed into each outfit without a fuss. They cracked jokes, busted out dance moves and put a smile on everyone's faces.

However, designers tried their damnedest to continue the tantrum pact. I think at some point or another I  heard every designer threatening to walk out if they didn't have things done their way or have the models they wanted. Drama at it's finest. I have to give it to them though- their collections were gorgeous- Especially Maria B, Nauman Arfeen, Opera House, Rana Noman, Waseem Noor, Gul Style, Falak Naz and Batur. Personally, I still don't think that their hard work and success should account to rudeness. We were trying to make the show run as smooth as possible, but instead we got random yelling fits and busted eardrums. A couple poor models with dare i say it FANTASTIC bodies, were told to work out more and bluntly labelled  'fat' right to their face. Some designers barely looked at could almost smell the stench of disgust when they saw my body type. No room for a size 12 in that joint. I also had a strange feeling that I was getting pushed around by people more that I ought to, as I had on my all-black assistant dress code. If they would have known I was blogging about the backstage experience, I'm 100% sure that I would have been treated differently.
Yogi and Seets !

Time management was imperative and we were continually running around in a daze pinning models into their clothes, finding shoes, seeing what outfits we needed next and finding models who decided to vanish. It was kind of surreal and at one point when everything was going insane, I stopped and stood in the middle of the room and suddenly everything around me turned into slow motion. I don't know if it was the lack of sleep, food or my piercing heachache, but at times i felt incredibly weird and dehumanized. I was part of the stringy glue holding the show in place and at times I don't think I was treated as well as I should have from the  'important' people of fashion. On the other hand, there were times when I got a buzz when my efforts were running smoothly, my models looked fantastic and I got them to the stage on time.
Serpenti's Vision Board

I have to say a massive THANKYOU to the team I was working with! We had each others back and worked really well as part of a team. Yay to Seeta Ashra, Yovna Peenith, Ishika Sharma, Nadia Butt, Mohammed Sa'ad, Scenario Hussain, Asifa, Pia, Koii and Daniva (Sorry if i forgot someone !!!). Working under 'Serpenti' was a great experience and I was forever impressed with Tabinda Shah, Sarah Shah and Kiran Khanna. They led us well, kept us calm ( well tried to) and were extremely professional to work with. Check out their website at . To work in fashion it's crucial to have backstage experience. If you can handle the chaos of fashion week, then you can handle anything. It's true when they say fashion is 'cut-throat', but don't follow the pack- work hard, be humble and you have the opportunity to change the industry.


The more relaxed male model side

Catwalk at 8am

Model at fittings

Make-up section

The make-up process took forever !

Luca- the Italian model and actor

Model and actress Nargis Javany with one of the nicer designers- Batur

Finale boy for one of the shows

Pakistani fashion dahling!

Designer is full strop mode

Catwalk from upstairs


The Boys !

Shafraz, Tom and Ali

The girls getting a bit too excited
Finally duckface in the loo before Mehreen Syed comes and bitch slaps me out.

The views and experiences expressed in this blog post are all my own and are in no way affiliated with 'Serpenti' or anyone else :)


  1. I really enjoyed this blog post, as an asian fashion blogger I've always been tempted to volunteer my services backstage at shows, partly out of curiosity and partly for blog material. I'm really glad you saved me the trouble, your experiences sound just as I expected! I will definitely stick to watching rather than participating.

  2. Thankyou ! I'm glad you enjoyed it ! I too went in with an idea of how it would be like and I was held true to those ideas. Definitely better to just watch it- saves so much hassle lol !

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