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shop talk
Khaadi Khaas takes ready-to-wear to a whole new level
Shamoon Sultan's new high fashion label is an off shoot of, yet radically different from the uber popular Khaadi

By Saba Sartaj K

The day is yet to come when snazzy pret will litter our high streets. But purse-friendly prices, no-nonsense designs and trendy ensembles are certainly taking Pakistan closer to pret. A rush of new `pret' lines that have come out recently have increased the scope and size of the ready-to-wear market. From D Philosophy to Kamiar Rokni's ready to weatr line and of course not to forget Maheen's Gulabo, for the first time, there seems to be an easy availability of off-the-rack-garments, which are in tune with international design trends, and score high on the twin meters of wearability and affordability.

Designers who have concentrated only on couture till now, are coming out with pret labels. And, on the other hand, small, stand-alone stores which stock only pret,such as Cynosure, are starting up. Last fortnight, Shamoon Sultan launched Khaadi Khaas, with a charming and tastefully interior outlet in Karachi's swanky and up market Zamzama area. The clothes, a delightful array of heavily-sequined Khaadi cotton and silks, in the very au courant Indo-Western styles (short/long kurtas -trouser combos in bright cobalt, Orange, pink and greens) for women were reasonably priced and very pleasing to the eyes. With a wide range of styles, designs and sizes, anyone looking for elegant evening wear could walk out of the store with a self assured smile.
Shamoon has put together an assortment of well-cut and beautifully-detailed garments (party shirts, kurtas, three piece suits and mix-and-match ensembles), starting at 4000 rupees and going up to 15,000 rupees for the more heavily embellished pieces. The clothes are worked with natural fabrics, mostly khaadi cottons and silks, which make his clothes extremely wearable. His creations reflect the fact that he is in sync with the latest in design and trends, which has designers create trendy and comparatively lower-priced ready-to-wear collections. Both easy on the eye, and the wallet Khaadi Khaas has some extremely stylish clothes in a very reasonable range with brilliant detailing and finish.
There is now an incredible upsurge in fashion with the pret revolution taking place.

More and more people are finding themselves squeezed for the time it takes to get clothes tailored, finding that the fabric-buying, the 20 trips to the tailor, and all the other attendant problems are simply not worth the bother. The same people are also intimidated by designer studios. They are far more comfortable doing trials in smaller stores like Cynosure, Generation and Khaadi Khaas, and that's where they end up buying the most.

Amongst the few, Khaadi Khaas stands apart for the sheer fabrics, the tones and textures, detailing and the cuts that make its garments perfect. The collection, a mix of formal and party wear, in a wide colour palate is relaxed and contemporary in hues of yellow, orang, blue, creame and pink with coloured sequins and beads .The clothes are colourful and funky and reflect loads of attitude. Be it detailed with piping, embroidered tone or embellished with stones or beads, the clothes are beautiful and literally Khaadi's signature statement.

Khaadi Khaas, an off-shoot of Khaadi can be seen as an upcoming popular fashion retail brand. Moving from the casual forte, Shamoon has very successfully entered the realm of the party-wear line.
The creativity is evident in the designs and Shamoon sure does know the sure shot recipe to success. Bold and striking, anyone one donning a Khaadi Khaas outfit will demand attention. Khaadi Khaas has taken the art of hand woven cloth one step forward and placed it as a source of fabric for high-end couture. Shamoon's innovative fusion of textiles and fashion transforms into very wearable clothing that would be a welcome addition to any fashionista's wardrobe. Classical and the contemporary, the garments at Khaadi Khaas are a visual mix of trendy colours with fusion embroidery drawn from a legacy of rich craftsmanship and global inspirations. Reinventing Eastern wear, they are perfect for Pakistan's cosmopolitan woman.

Khaadi Khaas is the first shop in the Zamzama lane that is also home to Sonya Battla's flagship store, hot spot Espresso and swanky restaurant Okra.

The daughter of the Raja of Amber (now Jaipur) was the first of his Rajput wives and probably the mother of his heir Salim (later emperor Jehangir). In recognition of her special status, Akbar gave her the title of Mariam-uz-Zamani (Holy Mother of the Universe), but there is no record of her real name or that of any of the other queens.

Mukhia has an explanation for this. While Akbar was a remarkably unbigoted man in many ways and never asked his Hindu wives to convert, he never allowed their names to be spoken publicly or recorded. He felt public knowledge of a woman's name would somehow stain her purity, so he decreed that his many queens should only be known by conferred titles, says Mukhia.

But although their names are lost to history, Akbar's Rajput queens had real power--a fact recorded by court historian Badayuni. They arranged the marriages of Akbar's son to Rajput princesses and when the minister of religious affairs executed a Brahmin against Akbar's orders, they taunted Akbar about his inability to enforce his will.
The Rajput Sabha, however, has its own version of Mughal history. It takes strong objection to Jodhaa Akbar being projected as a love story, as well as to the very title of the film. "Jodhabai was the name of one of Salim's wives, the daughter-in-law of Akbar. It's a serious distortion of history to say he fell in love with her," says Narendra Singh Rajawat, the president of the Rajput Sabha. But what really irks the Sabha is reflected in the complaint of another member who wishes to remain anonymous: "The Rajput princesses were making supreme sacrifices for the welfare of their people by accepting such marriages," she says, "Love had absolutely nothing to do with it.

"A claim that many Rajasthanis would scoff at--for example, during the Gujjar-Meena agitation last year, the Meenas circulated a pamphlet that taunted the Rajputs for simply giving away their daughters to the Mughals to curry favour, instead of defending their homeland.

The practice of vassal states giving daughters to conquering rulers has a long tradition in Indian history. As far back as the 4th century BC, Chandra-gupta Maurya married the daughter of the Macedonian king he had defeated. Six hundred years later, Samudragupta made it a practice for his vassal kings to send their daughters to him in marriage. The Rajputs seem to have done much better under the Mughals, with Akbar himself joining the baraat when his son married the Amber princess. In fact, as Amin points out, generations of Mughal rulers were the sons of Rajput mothers.

Yet another aspect of Jodhaa Akbar that may have provoked the ire of those who oppose the film is that this is the first major Bollywood film about a Hindu woman in love with a Muslim man. Observes film critic and author Mukul Kesavan, in most Hindu-Muslim love stories on cinema, the woman has always been Muslim. "I can't think of a single major film that shows the woman being a Hindu," he says. Four well-known films, Veer-Zaara, Gadar, Bombay and Henna, all had a Muslim in the woman's role. Even Mughal-e-Azam and Gulzar's film Lekin, which showed Hindu wives of Muslim men, only had them in supporting roles. So is Rajput Sabha's petition about historical veracity just a red herring to distract people from their real source of anger?

In his defence, Gowariker says he chose to use the name Jodhaa Akbar on the basis of books such as Medieval India by K.N. Khurana, Akbar by Munilal and Harishankar Sharma's Madhyakaleen Bharat. Gowariker also consulted Habib. Habib confirms this, but adds dismissively, "We disagreed on almost everything."

However, to Gowariker's immense relief, the courts have now ruled that the film only has to add a disclaimer saying it isn't historically accurate. Gowariker is more than willing to concede. "I have only 30 per cent of the facts, that a young Mughal emperor married a Rajput princess. What happened afterwards is what my movie is about and that is the 70 per cent that I have imagined."
Historians may have issues with accuracy, but to them it is only a film, a love story, "and nothing to get worked up about," as Amin says. Even if it takes a giant leap of imagination to see toyboy Hrithik Roshan as the emperor Akbar.

Courtesy Outlook India