PRESS RELEASE: Chatterbox Café Brings Innovation To Town

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Pakistan’s premier bakery, Pie in the Sky’s newest café, Chatterbox opened its doors in DHA – Phase VI, Karachi. Chatterbox Café promises to bring innovation to the city’s food map with the launch of its new café. The café that grew out of a bakery, previously introduced Karachiites to the idea of a bakery-café for a unique dining experience.

“Chatterbox was initially an extension of Pie in the Sky, since there was no concept of having a seating area or a café with a bakery in Karachi; we introduced the idea for the first time in Karachi. Chatterbox evolved from there. Since I like to challenge myself, I decided to start this new venture to take Chatterbox in a new direction. Also, what drives me is the love and passion for the brand,” said Naila Naqvi, Owner Chatterbox.

Naila with friends

Naila Naqvi, Owner of Chatterbox, entertaining friends at the new café

The launch of the new café, located at Bukhari Commercial, brings with it a fusion of cuisines that are yet to hit Karachi. Breakfast items such as Shakshuka — a Mediterranean dish of eggs poached in a spicy sauce of tomatoes — and Beef Rice Bowl bring an element of exclusivity to the menu. Dishes that are not available in other cafés and restaurants also include Savory Granola and tantalising desserts for those with an insatiable sweet tooth, such as Caramel Budino with salted caramel, White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake, and Sticky Toffee Pudding. To maintain the taste and quality, the management imports most of the ingredients; Swiss chocolate is used for desserts that require chocolate and fresh fruits.

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The café has a country and rustic feel to it, thanks to the antiques and brick walls. “The idea was to create a comfortable and welcoming environment. We started off with antiques and brick walls to give it a rustic feel. The furniture and lights are from Dubai to create an edge,” said Naila Naqvi.

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A new diner is always welcome in Karachi, provided it keeps up with the foodies’ expectations. Chatterbox is sure to live up the expectations after setting a standard with its bakery café. If you are a food lover and looking for exquisite and innovative menu, Chatterbox’s menu is sure to surprise you! The café has not set a specific target market in mind, as all those who appreciate exquisite flavours are welcome.

PRESS RELEASE: Farah Leghari’s big comeback!

Farah Leghari has made a comeback (after four years) with her unique and elegant lawn prints. ImageThe credit of bringing Farah Leghari back into the world of style and fashion goes to Gohar Textiles Mills, a Faisalabad based company.

Farah Leghari’s collection has six distinct designs. Amongst her most popular designs are the ones infused with rich jeweled colours.

“This collection celebrates the femme fatale in all of us. Having designed for Royalty, I aspire to make each one of you feel like a ‘princess’ in my creation,” says Farah.

Farah has also participated in numerous fashion shows around the world and helped organize fundraisers abroad for charities like The Citizens Foundation.

Ready to embrace elegance

Published in the 561097_10151054345591892_486968464_nNovember-December 2012 issue of Aurora.

Original link here.

Ayesha Hoda on Pakistani women and the ready-to-wear phenomenon.

Although unstitched designer lawn continues to be in great demand, ready-to-wear (RTW) brands are gaining popularity among urban, upper-middle class Pakistani women.

RTW clothing in Pakistan dates back to the early 80s when there were a few select names such as Generation and Teejays. Eventually, other boutiques also opened to offer RTW, but affordability remained an issue as such clothes were on the pricey side. The trend of RTW caught on in the last decade, when brands such as Ego, FnkAsia and Khaadi emerged with their distinct aesthetic appeal. These were not merely boutiques but came with brand promises of quality, style and affordability for the modern Pakistani woman.

Buying RTW brands is no longer about convenience as Adil Moosajee, the owner of Ego, explains: “Five or six years ago, a woman wore clothes that were not too different from what her mother or grandmother wore. There was also limited experimentation with design. RTW brands like Ego revolutionised this category – we changed what women wear and how they wear it. We made the dupatta optional with changes in fabrics and cuts, used unconventional motifs and did not sell three-piece suits.” Shamoon Sultan launched Khaadi in 1998 and focused on high quality fabric, which is still one of Khaadi’s major sellers.

229204_10151092521399075_1197411847_nIn 2001, the brand introduced plain kurtas for day wear, moving on to stripes, dye fusion and motifs. Since then there was no looking back. In 2007, Khaadi recruited professional designers to introduce different cuts and launched a fashion oriented label with the Khaadi Khaas line, offering evening and party wear. However, a larger number of customers mostly buy the simpler Khaadi day wear, worn at work, university and elsewhere.

Recently, two relatively new players, Daaman and Sheep, have been making waves in RTW. That RTW is the next big thing is underscored by the fact that large textile companies such as Al-Karam and Gul Ahmed have introduced prêt lines. Outfitters, generally known for western wear, has also launched a line of RTW clothing.

There are many reasons for the popularity of RTW. An increase in the number of working women and greater fashion consciousness are only the tip of the iceberg. Many women cite convenience as a major reason; this is further augmented by the fact that electricity shortages mean that tailors cannot be relied on to deliver clothes on time.

Another major reason is the affordability of RTW, particularly compared to high priced designer lawn. The average price of a branded three-piece lawn suit is Rs 2,000 (minimum) with a good tailor charging at least Rs 500-700, not to mention the additional cost of lace and other accessories. On the other hand, average prices of RTW brands are between Rs 2,500-3,000. Although most RTW brands don’t sell three piece suits and focus mainly on tops, women are combining them with trousers and eliminating the dupatta. Thus the price differential is not great and sometimes it is even cheaper to buy RTW. Designers such as Amir Adnan have taken affordability one step further by launching lines such as Awami, with outfits available for

Rs 1,800-2,200. Even Ego and Khaadi have discounted shelves at selected outlets.

However, making products affordable is not always easy especially for small sized businesses such as Sheep.

SHEEP-Fall-Collection-Now-In-Stores“Our biggest challenge is managing product costing – a lot of times gorgeous designs are rejected because they cost too much and while this is very painful, we do want to make our products affordable,” says Ayesha Jafar, Brand Communication Specialist, Sheep.

In spite of efforts to make RTW affordable, there are plenty of people who think these brands are expensive and this has led to the emergence of small entrepreneurial ventures that promise to deliver imitation Ego, Khaadi and Sheep (among others) patterns at affordable rates. Most of these ventures are either small shops or individuals who promote their RTW via word-of-mouth and Facebook pages. Whether they are successful or not is debatable as most women seem to prefer spending on a few original pieces, rather than lots of imitation ones.

DaamanMalyha Chaudhry, owner of Daaman, points out, “There is no comparison between what we sell and these brands, and what the tailor will make for you. They do not have the same level of design sense and detail.”

Beyond detail however, RTW clothes are designed to make a strong statement about the people who wear them. Moosajee says that when he briefs his designers he describes the Ego customer as “a journalist/architect, urban dweller, comfortable in different environments, who believes she can make a difference.”

Daaman offers “timeless elegance” and fills “an aesthetic gap,” while Sheep’s brand personality is defined by a single word philosophy, i.e. “uncomplicated”; reflected in its colour palette, cuts and styling.

Overall, the RTW category is growing, and not only in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Brands such as Ego are establishing more outlets in the major metros as well as going to Faisalabad, Multan, Sargodha, etc. Others, like Daaman are trying to tap expat Pakistanis by expanding their online business.

Jafar says that there is definitely room for more retailers as “we are still an under retailed country so the growth opportunities are there.”

More stores with multiple designer brands are also opening up (such as Brands Just Prêt, Ensemble and The Designers), with the line between couture and RTW becoming blurred. Those buying off-the-rack are putting not only convenience but also elegance and style in the shopping cart.

SHOWCASE 2012

So I missed an amazing fashion event in Karachi recently. Here are the details and photos. Enjoy!

SHOWCASE 2012 was a four day fashion, accessories and jewellery event for excellence in design conceived by Rizwan Beyg and produced by Sky Productions. It established an independent platform for designers looking to promote their work both in Pakistan and abroad.

The event brought 36 local and foreign designers under one roof, including some new and cutting edge designers straight out of fashion school.

Some of the participating designers were Feeha Jamshed, Saniya Muskatiya, Irfan Ali, Warda Saleem,
Faiza Samee, Hira Lari, Ibrahim Hanif, Ayesha Khurram, Maheen Karim and Yasir Mirza.

For more photos, please click here.

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Defying school rules?

Published in Books & Authors (Daily Dawn) on September 18, 2005

(Original Link)

Details: The Quest of the Falcons
By S. Uzair Ahsan
Ferozsons, 60 Shahrah-i-Quaid-i-Azam, Lahore
Tel: (042) 630 1196-8. 277
Peshawar Road, Rawalpindi Tel: (051) 556 3503.
Mehran Heights, Main Clifton Road, Karachi.
Tel: (021) 583 0467 UAN 111-62-62-62 ISBN 969-0-01870-1 236pp. Rs150

Reviewed by Ayesha Hoda

Rebellion, pranks, bluntness and revenge are the prime elements of The Quest of the Falcons. Like the adventurous expeditions of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five or Secret Seven, Uzair Ehsan’s first book deals with school children who get involved in similar galvanizing and perilous activities.

However, in this book, the kids do not get involved of their own accord (they do not have a spy group) and their inclination towards defiance of school rules results in precarious and life-threatening situations.

One of the main characters is Sameer Mohammad, a 12-year-old, egocentric yet lonely boy, who is able to attend a renowned secondary school (Cornwall) that is chiefly for the affluent. With his financial inferiority in mind and expectations of a snobbish attitude, he enters school and manages to make enemies within a week of his enrolment. His arrogance and frequent cynical comments, offered with the least embarrassment, are to blame for the hostility he is generally regarded with. However, circumstances work favourably for him and he manages to strike a strong bond of friendship with several of his fellow seventh graders, particularly the twins, Dania and Farzan.

The book progresses with the events in the classroom and with the chess championship and football games. The writer shows an understanding of chess games and reveals a keen interest in football, through an elaborate description of several matches that ensue in several chapters.

Details of the main plot of the story, about a criminal group called the Falcons, come more into focus at a later point. There is some element of suspense, but the plot still leaves much to be desired. There is a need for more originality of thought and ideas. The unrevealed part of the mystery at the climax paves the way for a second part of the book, but does not add much to the worth of the first part. It seems as if the real excitement has been saved for later narration.

Also, the division of students in four houses and their competition (Gryffindor, Slytherin inspired?), the assumption that all students and teachers are travelling to school in the same train (Hogwarts Express?) and so on, do not give the writer much credit. His characters live in Canada in a more or less realistic world and there is no room for the reader to make presumptions.

However, from the young readers’ point of view, there is much to be procured from the perusal of the book in terms of English vocabulary, especially keeping in mind the writer’s age (15 years). His expressions improve from chapter to chapter and disclose a good command of the English language.

The reader learns more about the personality of some of the characters as the story unfolds. Storytelling through the eyes of the different characters and the inclusion of a prologue are still positive factors for the book and in this case, work much more than a simple, straightforward narration of events.