Can lawn be interesting? Ali Xeeshan shows us how

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Now here’s a lawn campaign that immediately catches the eye: bright, audacious, offbeat but holding the promise of a three-piece suit that would make statements, turn heads.

Conceptualizing the initial look for his lawn, created in collaboration with WARDA, designer Ali Xeeshan had no famous actress signed on as the ‘face’ of his collection. He didn’t fly to scenic locales in Malaysia or Thailand for the shoot. What he did have was the vision to step away from conventional shackles and indulge in a bit of theatrical fun – one can usually count on Ali to do that.

Effervescent pops of color, geometrical shapes, an effusion of florals and unique arty necklines took a turn for the outlandish when they were molded into unwieldy puffed sleeves, a very voluminous multi-tiered skirt, large collars and unfathomable huge wraparound coats. A pale-faced, startlingly pretty Naja Rajput modeled for the shoot, the backdrop was a bright blue and the props included clusters of kettles, paintbrushes and a Buddha idol.

Effervescent pops of color, geometrical shapes, an effusion of florals and unique arty necklines - this is not your typical lawn shoot - Photograph by Abdullah HarrisEffervescent pops of color, geometrical shapes, an effusion of florals and unique arty necklines – this is not your typical lawn shoot – Photograph by Abdullah Harris

Could a layperson ascertain that this is the shoot for a lawn? Probably not. But what these images manage to do is pique interest. Most lawn shoots can’t claim to do that. The formulaic lawn shoot may once have caught the eye – long, long ago when all and sundry weren’t latching onto the bandwagon – but now it’s just run-of-the-mill, prosaic and instantly forgettable. There’s the pretty, fair-faced model with perfect hair – all the better if she’s the popular ‘good bahu’ in TV dramas or a siren from Bollywood – a flying chiffon or silkdupatta and a bit of natural scenery thrown in for good measure. Oh, and currently, any lawn worth its mettle wants the shoot to be photographed by Abdullah Harris.

Incidentally, Ali’s lawn campaign is also shot by the enterprising Mr Harris but the effort has been made to make it look very, very different. “There are so many lawns out there right now and I just wanted to create a teaser that stood out,” explains the designer. Wasn’t he afraid that such an unconventional shoot would alienate lawn consumers who generally prefer ‘pretty’ imagery? “We’ll have that too,” he says. “The lawn releases in the market on the 26th of March and we do plan to have a regular shoot. This initial campaign can be considered a first look at my mood board.”

This shoot is a first look at Ali Xeeshan's mood board - a more conventional shoot will soon follow - Photograph by Abdullah HarrisThis shoot is a first look at Ali Xeeshan’s mood board – a more conventional shoot will soon follow – Photograph by Abdullah Harris

“Our customer-base includes all kinds of women, which is why we have included kettles and paintbrushes amongst the props. There are 12 designs that are going to be available in two color-ways. There is going to be embroidery, jacquard and silk add-ons and silk and chiffon dupattas. It’s high-end designer lawn. We’ve just presented it in a more unique way,” elaborates Ali.

Ali, of course, is a designer with a penchant for experimentation. But lawn isn’t usually an experimental field. Also, Ali doesn’t have much experience with designing lawn aside from a capsule line created with Shariq Textiles two years ago. What inclined WARDA to put their faith in the designer when earlier the brand always used to design their own in-house prints?

Warda wanted someone to deliver unconventional aesthetics - they got what they wanted - Photograph by Abdullah HarrisWarda wanted someone to deliver unconventional aesthetics – they got what they wanted – Photograph by Abdullah Harris

“We want to break the monotony,” professes Arsalan Aziz, Marketing Head at WARDA. “With Ali on-board, we will certainly stand out. He has played with the color palette very skillfully and has devised some very flattering silhouettes. Conventional aesthetics can be repetitive and boring. This is precisely why the HSY and Ittehad Textiles collaboration didn’t work out last year.”

The prints will be available at all of the 130 WARDA outlets sprinkled about the country and the brand claims to keep prices ‘market-friendly’. But will the Ali Xeeshan-Warda collaboration boil down to huge sales? You never know. Lawn’s a tricky, clustered field where very few manage to rule the roost.

But with an initial campaign like this, the brand has upped the ante, hinted at trying to do something different and laid claim to a high-fashion edge that most lawn lost long ago. It may just bring customers to stores. Proponents of pretty models, beachy locales and fluttering dupatta, please take note. We’ve all been there, done that.