Multi-designer store makes its way to capital boasting collections of over 30 notable brands
As the capital becomes more fashion-conscious, the demand for designer prêt, formal- and bridal-wear has been soaring. With the trend of multi-label stores taking the country by storm, it’s timely that multi-designer fashion house Ensemble has made its way to Islamabad. Already high on one-stop shop appeal, the brand has opened its doors to the gliteratti in an edgy, two-storey building in F-8/4.
Ensemble is the brainchild of a mother-daughter trio: Zeba Husain, CEO, and Shezray and Shehrnaz, who are the head of business and creative director respectively. “Islamabad is a big market because it also caters to Rawalpindi and Peshawar,” said Shehrnaz. “We’ve gotten persistent requests over the years for opening a store here, so we decided it was time to find a permanent spot,” she added.
Mastering her flair for bridal wear
The store houses collections of over 30 brands, featuring high-end Pakistani designers, such as Sania Maskatiya, Farida Hasan, Nida Azwer, Farah Talib Aziz, Koel by Noorjehan Bilgrami, Shehrnaz, Tena Durrani, Body Focus Museum, Zara Shahjahan, Inaaya and newcomer Barae Khanom. It also stocks collections of Indian fashion heavyweights, including Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna and Ritu Kumar. “We stock sought-after Indian designers, something that not many other multi-label stores do,” Shehrnaz stated.
The store space seemed like a runway in itself with local fashionistas sporting latest trends as they socialised and picked outfits. Standing on platforms, models posed like mannequins, donning outfits of various designers. Also present at the event were some of the featured designers who catered to customers’ queries. The outlet houses casuals, formals, bridals and semi-formals, with a special focus on the latter. “As opposed to a high-street feel, the store aims at exuding a luxe aura with the highest ratio of semi-formals,” said Shehrnaz.
First launched in Karachi in 2007, Ensemble has had two branches in Karachi, and one in Lahore and Dubai. The flagship Karachi branch also houses a salon and the popular Xander’s café, along with home products and accessories, making it a one-stop destination. “We plan on following the same plan for the Islamabad location by introducing a restaurant and a salon in the future,” shared Shehrnaz.
Crafting a new way forward
A hot favourite among women was Sania Maskatiya, whose prêt, luxury prêt and bridal collections were on display. They included silk jumpsuits, printed and pleated vests, colourful dresses in unique cuts, and heavily-embroidered bridals in floral prints. “We’ve tried to bring a wide spectrum of our line here. We’ve stocked our entire ‘Afsaana’ collection along with other best-sellers. This is the first time we’ve brought bridals to Islamabad,” said Umair Tabani, Sania Maskatiya’s brother and business partner.
Alishia Khattak, CEO and designer at novice brand Barae Khanom, expressed her penchant for Ensemble over other multi-brand stores in the city. “Other stores don’t offer the level of professionalism that Ensemble offers as it’s a brand in itself. They have set criteria and standards for getting designers on board and don’t take just about anyone,” she stated.
Most customers said that they would buy the clothes later in the week, once they are dressed casually and can try on different clothes with ease. “I’m glad that there’s a new addition to our city. I really liked Farah Talib Aziz’s collection,” said Sania Sameer, a house wife. Another guest, Samiya Khalid, shared, “I find Koel’s collection quite elegant and simple – the kind one could never go wrong with. There are also options here that don’t inspire me but may intrigue other customers.”
The slow and steady in the fashion race
Ensemble plans on staying abuzz with activities involving blogger meet-ups, Eid events and exhibitions. The store will also take orders for bridals and formal-wear.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2015.
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