As religious violence and American drone strikes continue to plague Pakistan, the country's latest fashion week promises some respite from the turmoil.
Unknown to most of the world, fashion plays a huge role in Pakistani life.
Pakistan's Fashion Weeks
Since 2009, Pakistan has hosted dozens of fashion weeks. These ‘Fashion Weeks’ offer the world a rare glimpse into a blossoming and professional industry that illustrates cultural norms in Pakistan aren't as rigid or conservative as most believe.
This Spring/Summer 2013 edition of Fashion Pakistan Week will be followed by two more fashion events in April – the Bridal Couture Week in Karachi which will focus on wedding wear and then Lahore will host another Fashion Week.
Global Voices interviewed three designers ahead of the event, who explained that despite their nation's circumstances, they are constantly innovating and creating:
Designers are also coming up with high tech ways to reach their market. A great example is this E Store which will be carrying these collections hours after they walk the ramp, for anyone to purchase locally or internationally.
Fashion Pakistan Week is set to break social media boundaries in the country, as well. Not only will the event be livestreamed, but fashion bloggers like Nida Moughal and some Twitterati will be covering the event. The Internet is a big worry though; the whole region is plagued by broadband issues because two out of the four submarine cables that link Pakistan to the web have been damaged.
Fashionistas Against Taliban
Security concerns and Taliban threats at the first Pakistan Fashion Week in 2009 also marked the beginning of the Fashionistas Against Taliban (#FAT) movement. The event pulled war correspondents from neighboring countries into Pakistan to cover fashion and has been the source of satire-loaded tweets, memes and this Facebook Group which has developed cult-like status amongst the country's social media users.
Sabahat Zakariya (@sabizak_) whose Twitter profile says she is a ‘reverse snob and tweeter about life’ remarks:
On more than one occasion though #FAT is poked a little bit for fun on Pakistani social media.
Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) A recovering bureaucrat and columnist known for his dry wit quips:
Investigative blogger and Twitter user Shahid Saeed (@shahidsaeed) tweets a picture of a Pakistani politician who's known for sporting punk-like hair colour:
Samra Muslim (@samramuslim), a self-described lover of shoes, marketing, and media tweeted about the social media hype surrounding Fashion Pakistan Week:
Umair Mirza (@Umairmirza) celebrated the fashion week joining the “digital age”:
This event, which may offer a peek to a different side of Pakistan, will be available to watch here: