‘You are what you hair’ was the theme behind the Tariq Amin’s hair show in Karachi recently. Organised by Catwalk, wardrobe by Ammar Belal and choreography by our very and ‘safe’ Sonu Dangerous, the event was held to introduce a style icon the sponsor Sunsilk found to endorse the brand. To further embed the style icon’s status, her contribution to the fashion industry and statements made by her personal style were sneakily being associated with two of the biggest icons in Hollywood history: Marilyn Monroe and Madonna.
The show was delightfully different, and that an attempt was made to pay attention to detail was quite evident. The onstage activity was divided into three sections — one dedicated to each Monroe and Madonna, and the third to introduce the new icon. Each set was preceded by a small presentation which compiled text, video clips and photographs of the lives of style icons.
With her hair bleached to blonde perfection, the show opened with model Hajra singing Happy Birthday Mr President, the version Marilyn sang for John F. Kennedy on his birthday on May 19, 1962. While she looked like the birthday song version of Monroe right down to her big-bobbed hair, what was amusing to note was that Hajra stood at quite a distance from the microphone set on the ramp while lip-syncing the song! It would have helped to stand closer, just to make it look more natural.
I want to be loved by You was performed by Fia. I was immediately struck by how tall she was as she walked down the ramp in large, classic Monroe curls and a short white dress while mouthing the words to perfection.
But it was Tooba who stole the show with her rendition of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend (the overall look which Madonna recreated in her Material Girl video, and which was not performed that night).
Depicting female sensuality can be tricky business. Just by giving the wrong look, body language or by exaggerating a pout, a model can end up looking sleazy. Where Madonna was known for throwing herself brazenly to stage and to her videos, shocking the then predominant bourgeois sensibilities and sometimes even considered to be somewhat trashy, Marilyn Monroe on the other hand was a classic tease. The look in her eyes and the curve of her mouth for a chosen smile was enough to entice the viewer without making them feel visually violated (or without seemingly coming on the viewers).
Suffice it to say that a similar philosophy seems to come naturally to Tooba. She ended her performance with her arms held out wide — in that moment she ruled the show and she knew it. She mouthed the words perfectly, swished and sashayed and was completely natural.
Tooba’s hair was made up in tight, closed curls — the type that open to cascading waves, which formed a perfect circle around her head. She dressed in a white dress, gloves, decked in glittering jewellery on her arms and around her neck… she wasn’t acting Monroe, she was her own version of the iconic beauty. Her performance stood out till the end of the show.
In utter contrast was the segment dedicated to Madonna. It is here when the pace of the show picked up. Madonna is the queen of reinvention and so was the segment dedicated to her hairdo. It required more changes in set, song, model, and needless to say the overall look. All of this was carefully and adequately handled, especially where the overall look including, hair, make-up, chosen outfit and set/prop for the Madonna singles were concerned.
The same cannot be said entirely for the individual performances of the models. Where some were very good and seemed familiar with the Madonna they were personifying, there were others who were somewhat out of sync with their character and seemed completely clueless.
The segment hit off with Lucky Star, Madonna’s first-ever top-five hit single performed by Annie who carried a head of the ’80s-inspired messy curls. It was an era when Madonna donned perhaps the most outrageous outfits and hairdos, and in which she was considered to be a complete fashion disaster. But it helped shaped the identity she has now.
Hardly considered to be a regular feature on the ramp, Annie was supported by a pair of male dancers and danced on the ramp with endless energy. However, she tended to resort to the exaggerated pout and often seemed to squint at the audience; one could almost say that she was trying too hard (not to mention her timing was off; which was even more painfully evident with both the dancers by her side who danced perfectly in sync). At one point she walked into the middle of the ramp, lay down and raised her legs over her head – somersaulting? Thankfully the song also ended around that time.
Did she manage to shock in the manner of Madonna’s in-your-face acts? The answer is yes!
Another memorable performance came in the form of Fayezah Ansari (dressed to perfection in a grey-and-black Ammar Belal suit) performing to one of Madonna’s most controversial numbers, Express Yourself. This song carries some of the best dance choreography from all of Madonna’s videos. In it she is depicted as a female in a dominant position over the men who serve her and dances with feminine grace yet without a hint of submissiveness. The video caused a controversy for the unconventional manner in which the relationship between men and women was shown. Fayezah, with her tall and well-built figure, seemed perfect for the role. She came towards the middle of the ramp and seemed to put her heart into her performance, often forgetting to lip-sync the lyrics. Although somewhat awkward, she kept repeating moves but also continued to give fierce expressions coupled with delightful smiles.
Dressed and trying to dance like Madonna, was Fayezah entertaining? Yes. Was she her own version of the icon? No.
Tatmain came forward on Music, Madonna’s groovy hit in her later years. For this, a large box was brought in over which a male model became a DJ working the turntables. Another danced towards the left side of the ramp and Tatmain appeared danced near the box, towards the middle of the ramp. This particular performance didn’t quite do it for me as everyone seemed all over the place. The lighting in this segment was especially dark with dimmed hues of magenta overtaking the ambience which only ended up making it difficult to watch.
However, a disaster of a performance came with the model that performed Madonna’s Tell Me. Donning what attempted to look like classic western gear, not only did one think she was a little too short to be on the ramp in the first place, but she was also incredibly stiff. She predominantly skipped around the ramp attempting to dance.
Just when one thought that a perfectly good show was now taking a downward spiral, Sunsilk decided to unveil the style that they linked with Monroe and Madonna — Iman Ali. A larger-than-life portrait of the model/actress set against a white backdrop was revealed which further opened from the centre to show an enticing silhouette of Iman behind a white screen.
She carefully tore through it and dressed in an elegant pink dress that trailed behind her with studded diamantes on one side, she sashayed down the ramp. With sad, almost dreamy eyes and hair bouncing off her shoulders, she made one think of a classic princess from children’s fables. Whether she is a dominant style icon can be debated but not overruled.