Sonya Battla opened her high-end boutique in Karachi back in 1999, with the vision to innovate fashion with modern patterns and cuts integrated with ethnic embroideries. This January, she pushed the boundaries of innovative fashion by merging the visual aesthetic of Naiza Khan, winner of the 2013 Prince Claus Award, with her own fabric creations. In an interview at the launch earlier this year, Battla explained, “the collaboration was inspired by the sea. Naiza Khan’s work allowed me to explore cuts that are fluid. There are round-ish jackets and straight loose cuts — the entire line is very movement oriented.” The ‘Manora’ line gave Battla the perfect opportunity to use her clothes as a canvass to add another interpretation to Naiza Khan’s Manora project.
Naiza Khan exhibited the Manora Project in 2010, inspired by the island of Manora, just off the coast of Karachi. While explaining her work to an interviewer, Khan connected the artistic result of this project to her statements on gender. She stated that “the idea of the island, surrounded by water, as a defense fort...my armour works are also there as a defense for the body, a sort of emotional moat”.
Perhaps this was where the connection between Battla’s line and Khan’s visuals intersected. The movement of the largely silk-wear ensemble effortlessly combines Khan’s abstract water colours into her own vision of gender. Battla has created silhouettes that don’t conform to a single genre or space; similar to her usual work, the patterns and designs play around with different colours and shapes, creating a line that integrates eastern and western sensibilities.
The event, held at Serena Hotel on Thursday evening, was exclusively dedicated to raising funds for the SOS village in Islamabad. Naznine Murtaza, chairperson of SOS village Islamabad, opened the night with a brief historical background of the SOS village. She related the efforts of Herman Gmeiner, who sought to protect and provide refuge for the orphans of World War II. The first village was founded with Gmeiner’s donation of 600 Austrian Schillings (approximately $40) in Imst, a village in the Tyrolean region in Austria. In 1975, the first SOS village opened in Pakistan, providing a secure home for children and displaced families. In the past decade, the country has been victim to natural disasters, political unrest, civil war and military operations, affecting a growing number of children. Murtaza articulated that the SOS Children's Village has provided permanent support to shelter children and families, not only educating them, but also providing a family and a chance of a normal life. She stressed that the organization did not accept any foreign aid; hence local donations and charity events were an important lifeline. Her speech was followed by a video presentation of SOS village and their success stories.
Thereafter, the models took the stage, flaunting the looks created by Tariq Amin and his team. The visual palette of the manora line boasted various colours, contrasting with Khan’s selective use of colour. While the visuals created by Khan are somber, reflecting the emptiness of the island, Battla’s creations are grand and bold. The whole line was divided into different segments, displaying a catholic range of formal and casual wear, as well as western dresses and eastern shirts. Some of the looks were complemented with accessories such as scarves. Battla had previously stated that “her (Naiza Khan’s) imagery evolves from rich sources and gives us another dimension to the Karachi experience”. Battla’s structural details and design add a universal dimension to that experience.
The evening ended with a special appearance on the ramp by children from the SOS village, who were holding a note of gratitude for those who had come out in support. They were the real stars of the evening, receiving the loudest applause from the audience.
The ‘Manora’ line will be exhibited for two days at Labels in Islamabad.
All images have been taken from Sonya Battla’s official Facebook page.
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