“There is no such thing as the voiceless. There are only the deliberately silenced"
Pakistani fashion designer, Ali Xeeshan, showcased his latest bridal collection, titled ‘Khamoshi’ (translates to ‘silence’) at the Grand Finale of PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week 2016. ‘Kahmoshi’ created quite a stir among the fashion elite.
In the controversial collection, Xeeshan artistically represents the theme of marriage as an imprisonment, using metaphorical symbols, a stuffed toy, and a padlock.
Through them, he supposedly illustrates child marriage and the voiceless bride, all under the notion of forced marriages.
A talented and truly distinct designer, Ali Xeeshan’s designs bring forth fashion themes with powerful concepts.
Ali has prominently made headlines for both the bad and the good. Whether it was for a controversial photo shoot on rape culture, or for being approached by Rihanna’s stylist to design her dress.
As he returns, with his creativity, unveiling his ‘Khamoshi’ bridal collection on social media, he is once again under scrutiny.
DESIblitz explores the vision behind the concept that has caused such debate.
Ali Xeeshan on ‘Khamoshi’
The designer describes ‘Khamoshi’ as:
“Live life. Don’t just exist. No one is born chained.”
‘Khamoshi’ aims to convey that everyone is free to speak up and break free, don’t wait to be told you can do it.
Ali further adds: “There is no such thing as the voiceless. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard #khamoshi #breakfree.”
‘Khamoshi’ ~ The Padlocked Bride
Khamoshi’ speaks volumes. It communicates strong emotions, feelings of grief, control and fear.
Before the collection launch, Ali Xeeshan released a photograph on social media, as an introduction to ‘Khamoshi.’
Photographed by Abdullah Haris, the image features model Amna Baber, as the bride not able to speak.
With her gaze down, Amna is glamorously padlocked on the lips, while a group of women are seen admiring her expensive embellished dress and jewellery.
The women look pleased. We see them eagerly fidgeting the ornaments and the feminine physique. It is almost as, by teasing the bride it is conveyed that she was now a part of the husband’s family.
The innocence of Amna is evidently the centre of attention. Chained in heavy jewellery pieces, they too create a significant appearance. Complementary to such thought is the view of a bride as an ideal beauty, her richness and value.
Unlike Pakistani singer Samra Khan’s ‘Bol’ track, where visuals illustrate bodily imprisonment, ‘Khamoshi’ shows captivity of the tongue. However, Samra’s attractive chorus: “Piya ve piya bol bol tenu jagh di ki parwah,” may perfectly compliment Ali’s conceptual photo.
Nevertheless, the reactions on social media were mixed.
Some of the comments included: “It’s sad to think that many of these dresses will be bought by these oppressed women.”
Rafia Khaliq adds: “I don’t think its khamoshi when our women are wearing top designer gear.”
As a result, it appears that the concept of brides unable to speak up contradicts with the expensive clothing. In other words, a glittering designer bridal gown speaks the personality of the bride, it breaks the idea of silence. Rather, it suggests consent and permission of marriage.
However, other social media users celebrated the photograph as a remarkable creativity: “Look at the bride’s expressions! So on point with the lock,” says Mareeiya.
Model Faryal Makhdoom, who has elegantly styled outfits by Ali Xeeshan, positively comments: “Love this!”
“This is mind blowing. 1 step ahead every time. Never saw a person write his own dictionary,” expresses Talal Khan.
Moreover, at first glance, the photo is viewed as an artistic portrait of culture.
It carries the concepts of a traditional wedding. We see floral gajreh, mandala paisley designs, and the tradition of giving money to the bride.
Above all, the lock acts as a metaphorical message. It communicates a traditional meaning with a symbolic value. As the marriage traditions convey, the bride is supposed to be shy, silent, and modest with eyes downcast.
Otherwise, she is seen as challenging the tradition to speak at her wedding. And, as a result, she faces the negative comments of the society and worries from the ‘evil eyes.’
So, what is locked up? Married life? Or locked up so that you are limited from the view of others?
‘Khamoshi’ – The Stuffed Monkey Toy
Ali Xeeshan presented ‘Khamoshi’ with detailed pastel colour combinations, contrasted with minimalist white and golds.
The minimalist colour palettes illustrated simplicity and elegance, while the pastels were classy and glittery.
Showstopper Mahira Khan, stole the spotlight, wearing a white and gold Kundan worked bridal with statement jewellery pieces. She walked the ramp gripping onto a stuffed monkey toy. The toy, which was also dressed as a detailed bride, appeared to resemble Mahira’s bridal gown.
Ali’s aim was to illustrate more than just the padlocked bride or the bridal ensembles:
“No one should be able to snatch childhood away from you,” as stated on his Instagram.
The stuffed toy was used as a symbol of child marriage. It represented the young aged bride and shaped a visual rendering of ‘Khamoshi’ within forced marriages.
While the men rocked their traditional wedding headgear, with a funky touch, Amna Baber was seen walking the ramp with padlocked lips.
Through bridal impressions, the fashion ramp approached child marriage in a creative manner. A serious social message presented through glamour.
For some, it was a horrid glamour, where the concept of silence opposed the charming dresses. While for others the striking pastel-hued ‘Khamoshi’ gives fashion a symbolic meaning:
“The stuffed monkey just spoils it. I think they should have used dolls,” says Instagram user, Nazysh Hassan.
However, Reda adds: “Initially I was creeped out but after finding out about the collection I totally love it.”
Nevertheless, it leaves us questioning, who has the key to unlocking the ‘Khamoshi’ of this padlocked bride?
The groom? The in-laws?
The bride’s parents? Or is it the society surrounding her?
The knowledge of the possession of the key lies in the thoughts of this innocent bride, the fear of words, shines through her gazed down eyes.