Event of the Month – Pakistan Fashion Week

Pakistan fashion week
116 Pall Mall recently hosted a ground-breaking fashion show that attracted coverage around the world and featured Britain’s first transgender Muslim drag queen...

Last year, a law was passed in Pakistan that banned discrimination against transgender people. In recognition of that landmark ruling, Pakistan Fashion Week (PFW) recently became the first event of its kind to feature LGBT models, including drag queen Asifa Lahore.

Transgender models were used on the catwalk for the first time in a Pakistani fashion show

Transgender models were used on the catwalk for the first time in a Pakistani fashion show

PFW is part of Lifestyle London – a two-day celebration of Asian culture, art and fashion. This year, it attracted around 4,000 visitors to its new home at 116 Pall Mall.

Adnan Ansari is the Creative Director for Riwayat, which stages events around the globe, including Lifestyle London. Here, he tells the story behind breaking new ground for Asian fashion at 116...

What is Lifestyle London

“Riwayat (which means 'tradition’) organises corporate events, but our main focus is fashion, art and culture. London Lifestyle is our most famous event, which is now in its 10th year. We hold it twice a year, in May and November, and we showcase designers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Arab countries across Asia.

Pakistan Fashion Week is part of Lifestyle London, which is about more than fashion. Lifestyle can mean healthy living, beauty, exercise, homeware, jewellery, travel.

For the last two years we’ve also held Lifestyle shows in Prague, Rome, Geneva, Karachi, Lahore and Multan. Our brand is recognised by audiences across the world thanks to extensive and growing coverage from our media parters in the Asian press and the BBC.”


‘Fashion Has No Boundaries’

“The event we did at 116 Pall Mall was the first of its kind, because we featured LGBT models. The clothes were unisex and were designed by Farhad Hussayn, who is very famous in Pakistan. We wanted to promote the message that ‘fashion has no boundaries’.

To be very honest, I was a bit nervous beforehand. There were government officials from India and Pakistan and I wondered about what sort of reaction we would get.

But I think there can sometimes be a fine line between looking classy and over the top or tacky. We put the emphasis on class, with a bit of fun as well, to make sure we would create the right mood.

I simply don’t have the words to adequately explain how positive the reaction was.

Drag models at Pakistan fashion week

Drag models at Pakistan fashion week

The biggest compliment I received came from an LGBT person who came up to me and said, ‘I’ve been living in this country for 45 years and this was the first time I felt proud to be Pakistani.’


Why We Chose 116 Pall Mall

“I booked 116 in December last year. I always look for a venue that has a history. So, we’ve previously held events at venues including The Methodist Church, Lancaster House, Grand Connaught Rooms. They are not hotels and that allows us to create a more intimate and special atmosphere.

To have a space like 116 is fantastic. This was one of the best events we’ve ever staged and the venue was a key factor. For us, one of the best things is that it has so many rooms, which allowed us to stage different activities throughout the building.

You Can Get The Staff

Everybody was so professional, especially Marta Fernandez. She was always there, every step of the way, which I’ve never experienced in 10 years of doing this.

She never said ‘no’ to anything and she did everything with a smile. Honestly, it was so good working with her and the team at 116, and we’ve already booked the venue for our next event in November along with another two events in 2020.

This was the first year that I was in charge of Lifestyle London. There were a lot of minor issues to overcome. So, the venue was a huge saving grace and meant the overall experience was enjoyable rather than stressful.

It’s Not Where You’re From, It’s Where You’re At

Model on the catwalk at 116 Pall Mall - stunning

Model on the catwalk at 116 Pall Mall - stunning

Another important thing for us is location. With 116 Pall Mall, you’re so near Trafalgar Square, or Piccadilly Circus or Embankment. So to go there means a nice day out for people -  you can take a nice walk through London on your way to the venue.

But what I also love is that parts of it feel a bit like a museum with these amazing works of art.

And We felt that this was a great opportunity for people to discover this fantastic building who might not otherwise get the chance to come into 116 Pall Mall.


Creating The Perfect Fashion Show

The next event in November will be our 10th anniversary. Ten glorious years! At the moment we’re thinking about how we’re going to make it extra special.

Presentation is everything when it comes to fashion. From our PR to our packaging, people are looking for quality.

When everything goes well and it all fits into place, then you’re looking at three elements – the team you work with, the PR you get and the venue where you hold it. And we had all three this year.

Photography: @iamshahidmalik

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One of the most prestigious London venues, 116 Pall Mall is situated in the heart of the West End and offers a range of flexible function rooms across five floors, perfect for any kind of event or venue hire for up to 1,500 people. 

You can even hire our whole building exclusively on weekends. 

Make an enquiry for more information.