The multi-cultural, multi seasonal wardrobe

Ahlya Fateh

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My newest toy is my iPhone, I love it more than anything and it has become my newest and shiniest best friend. I was late to catch on staying true to my battered Nokia until my five-year-old daughter persuaded me to upgrade and join the rest of civilisation. But the best thing about my new best friend is how it keeps me in touch with my old bff, my sister. Thanks to FaceTime we can shop with each other even while she is drinking her tea in Lahore and I am pounding the streets of London. During our last encounter my sister was bemoaning the heat and the challenges of what to wear during the eastern summer season when she sat up and peered at her screen, “OMG Ahlya, are you wearing a polo neck sweater? It’s June for heaven’s sake!”

Yes I was sitting in London swathed in cashmere in June – this is summer in the UK where it is so cold that we still have our heating on full blast and I am taking a hot water bottle to bed with me. Now, I work in fashion so my SS13 purchases have been hanging in my wardrobe since March but have I been able to wear any of them? No, because I am still rocking my winter coats and boots and I am not about to risk frostbite for a strappy summer dress that will soon become obsolete when my new AW13 duds arrive in August! For this is the paradox that is the fashion world; designers have to get summer clothes into the stores in winter and autumn gear to our stockists in the height of summer. Then throw in Resort and Pre-fall collections which are supposed to cater to everything in between and you sense that it is only a matter of time before we are in a situation of ALL seasons ALL of the time!

A global wardrobe

Thanks to the ease of travel and the fact that we all seem to be living across several continents at any one time, so must our wardrobe too face up to the challenges of a swing of twenty degrees centigrade. As a woman who travels regularly back to her Pakistani homeland, one must be able to move seamlessly from skinny jean and ballet pumps to flowing cotton shalwar kameezes and jewelled sandals and back again without batting a false eyelash. I was lucky enough to be a guest at Pakistan Fashion Week last month I was amazed to see how many of the designers are designing western wear as part of their collections. This is all due to the amount of mobility amongst their clients I was told. A young woman may live in Dubai, have family in Karachi, study in Washington, intern in London and holiday in Ibiza and needs a closet full of clothes that are current whatever the weather or social occasion. However, all this multiculturalism leads to another quandary...Where to store all these garments? I have a closet for shoes, for evening wear, for day wear, for saris and shalwar kameezes, the list is endless but my cupboard space isn’t.

The other day my husband caught me in the spare room with a tape measure, as I seriously tried to convince him that as we never had guests the space would be better employed as a walk in wardrobe! His suggestion that I edit down the rails of existing clutter and put what I didn’t wear into storage was met with horror and disdain. How could I get rid of summer clothes when the weatherman keeps telling me that a heatwave is on its way? Did he not see that I needed access to shawls and sweaters at all times when it was possible that freezing temperatures might hit at any time?

While I was pleading my case (not very convincingly) it was left to my daughters to have the last word on the subject.

“Mama needs ALL her clothes because she does EVERYTHING!”

There you have it, I just need a superwoman outfit and I am all set.
With extensive publishing experience and significant knowledge of the fashion, retail and luxury industries, Ahlya Fateh is currently a highly regarded senior executive who combines a strong creative vision with an astute strategic understanding and exceptional management skills. In 2010 Ahlya was brought in by Tata Naka as Managing Director to re-launch the fashion brand at London Fashion Week. Previously Ahlya was Managing Editor of Tatler magazine from 2001 to 2010.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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