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By Sabrina F Ahmad

If we asked you to close your eyes, and imagine a world, a Dhaka, without Pakistani lawn kameez, would you be able to do so? Would you be able to think back to a time where we had options, a time where innovation and creativity were at least pursuits if not features of our local fashion industry? Do you remember, most importantly, a time where every girl did not look like the girl next to her and every girl next to her did not look like a leaf out of a Pakistani 'designer' kameez catalogue?

No? Well, neither can I.

As with all things that creep up on us, it is hard to put an exact date on when this all-consuming infiltration occurred. But it must have been some time last year. Some time last year, we must have all been intrigued by the exciting new promise of 'A' cuts and flowing lengths, of side panels and ornate yokes.

But two years into celebrating, wearing and overdoing our erstwhile namesake's style preferences, we feel it is safe to say -- we've had enough.

The absolute homogeneity of Dhaka's current fashion scene has become a pricking eyesore and the hope for change could not be urgent enough. As elegant as each Sana Safinaz piece is, as comfortable as lawns generally are, nothing is quite worth being seen on the backs of every 15-50 year old at every class, every office, every party, every gathering everyday in Dhaka.

The lawn and replica lawn (cringe) phenomenon in Dhaka has quite swiftly spiralled into every kameez-wearing woman's wardrobe and it is a wonder that the craze continues. Choices in terms of colour, cut, design, length and label have all been milked dry yet enthusiasm is far from depleting. Facebook pages and retail outlets sell three-piece lawn kameez sets in quantities that would put the concept of bulk buying to shame and whether it is their weather-appropriateness or 'brand' appeal wearers seem to show no sign of exhaustion.

We are all for the exchange of ideas that fluid borders and globalisation permit but in appreciating the benefits of international influences on our local fashion scene, we have to be willing to recognise the down sides as well. It is important, on a collective level, to be able to draw a line between diversifying our wardrobes to include regional or international trends and transforming our fashion personalities altogether to fit the dictates of cross-border preferences.

As we prepare ourselves for the last season of 2012, perhaps it is worth taking a quick minute to rethink our wardrobes. The search for alternatives may not be such a bad idea this winter-cum-wedding season, and while we may believe our options are few and far between, they are not non-existent altogether.

Circle back to age-old favourites such as Aarong for that much needed balance between international designer wear and strictly casual kameezes or revisit your local three-piece selling stores. Look close enough and you should be able to find unstitched material that is not at mortal risk of being worn by all and sundry and if you were able to customise and innovate before, chances are you can still do so now. So throw in some lace/embellishment induced personalisation, and you should be able to add some character to your outfits.

You may not end up with a designer label, but the prospect of not looking like everyone and their grandmother is sure to have its benefits.

By Subhi Shama
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Airin
Makeup and styling: Farzana Shakil
Wardrobe, Jewellery: Aarong, Designer Collection



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