Islamabad: Defying hardliners and the Taliban, models clad in off-shoulder and backless gowns wowed audiences during Pakistan`s first fashion week, which was "bigger, better and sexier" than anything seen before.
The Karachi Fashion Week, which was postponed twice because of security fears, finally got underway last week with 30 top models sashaying down the ramp in short, off-shoulder and midriff showing dresses designed by the country`s top 30 designers.
The venue of the four-day event -- Marriott Hotel -- was guarded by the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers. The local media boosted the morale of organisers by praising them defying the diktats of terrorism.
The tattoos accentuating the plunging backs and exposed navels were in keeping with the latest global fashion trends.
In a country where most women cover up and observe varying degrees of Islamic dress, the fashion event was daring.
In a show where models with veils walked down the ramp clad in off-shoulder, knee length dresses was a perfect blend of east and west.
Rizwan Beyg, one of Pakistan`s best-known designers, called his creations "defiant".
He said: "This is about saying they`re not going to threaten our lifestyle. We want to show the world that we`re survivors."
Another designer, Sonya Battla, who shocked the audience with her bare-all designs that one local media report claimed would invite "stoning" by hardliners, said she was not scared of the Taliban.
"Life has to go on and this is a way to tell people who want our lives to stop that no, we won`t let you," said Samar Mehdi, who showcased her creations at the show.
"This is our gesture of defiance to the Taliban," said Ayesha Tammy Haq, executive of Fashion Pakistan Week. The event was held at a time when Pakistan has been hit by a wave of suicide attacks and bombings that has killed hundreds.
Most of the attacks have targeted security facilities, including the Pakistan Army`s fortified headquarters in Rawalpindi, though militants have also struck at markets and public places.
Though the organisers of the Karachi Fashion Week have been praised for hosting the show, not many are sure about the skin show.
Some among the audience felt the clothes were unwearable and "un-Islamic".
The debate trickled to the blogosphere, with one blogger writing: "…the more skin women can show, the more free, democratic, liberal, educated, modern they are. A good measure of a country`s freedom, democracy, liberalism, education, modernity is the amount of skin a woman can show."
But Yasser Latif Hamdani, a leading blogger, wrote: "I am not sure why gentlemen here are assuming fashion shows should represent the clothes on the street? In what country does that happen?”
"...if the mullahs can try and speak and act like Arabs and still be considered Pakistani, why can`t our fashion and glamour brigade act like the more developed nations of the world and still be considered Pakistani?"
"Let me remind you of a barrister who walked out of Lady Wellingdon`s party some 90 years ago because Lady Wellingdon made a remark about his wife`s low cut strapless dress. That barrister was Mohammed Ali Jinnah," he said.