I think we can all agree, that we need some reasons to rejoice. Like, right now. (Yesterday, in fact.) And so, I’m just going to combine a list of my favourite block print moments.
To give you just a tiny bit of context, I’m really passionate about ethical, conscious production. This isn’t limited to fashion. But, because I work with a sustainably minded accessory and lifestyle brand, the fashion aspect is particularly pertinent.
And, in case you didn’t watch my Koel video, then please do.
Bottom line; block print is kind of a hidden, and often ignored, gem.
Block Print Queens
A technique as old as time, block printing, and block print have been a staple part of Pakistan’s garment industry for generations. Yet, as I mentioned in my Koel video, this printing method did almost lose its glory. Thankfully, because of conservation efforts, much of its heyday prestige has been restored.
You could even call it a tried and true style statement; one that endures fast-fashion trends. And like I said, today is about pure, unapologetic escapism. So, I’m just going to recount the many, many ways that these ladies served me everything; block print outfit in tow.
1. Mahirah Khan Mastering Monochrome in a Blocked Textiles Sari
Truthfully, pairing black with white is a time-honoured, always-in-style, fail-safe. The concern is always that it can be a tinge predictable, boring even. But you see, boring simply won’t do: not for the queen.
Enter this handcrafted, block print sari, which pairs playful polka-dots with gold detailing. Leave it to Mahirah, to accompany it with the subtlest hint of makeup and understated jewellery. Because when the apparel is an instant conversation-starter; you don’t really need to embellish it with much else. Find Blocked Textiles here.
2. Shehzeen Rehman Serving Us Traditional Ajrak
Few textiles have come to represent a people, the way that the Ajrak represents Sindhi heritage, and culture. Far from being the most popular iteration of block printing, the Ajrak has gone into the fabric of society itself. Pun, kind of, intended. But, and I say this with love, the Ajrak can also be a very typical accessory. Stereotypical even.
That is, unless you let it have its day in the sun. That’s why I love this image of the effortlessly elegant Shehzeen, pairing the classic Ajrak colours with pure white. Apart from showing off her own jewellery line, it also shows how stunning the block print favourite can be. The trick is always to keep everything else neutral and understated. Find Shehzeen here.
3. Marjhan Kausar in Classic Koel Colours
Now, clearly, I love Koel. And all of us can retain the tiniest smidge of optimism, when we think of a crisp Koel number. Embellished with regal block print, they have a fever-dream-inducing array of sophisticated whites, beiges and creams.
This image of the East-meets-West maestro Marjhan Kausar, is the quintessential Koel lady. Equal parts serene, and scene-stealing. Find Koel here.
4. Hareem Farooq for The Pink Tree Company
The Pink Tree Company is also one of my favourites. To the extent that they too have been the subject of one of my videos. This video in fact.
I really appreciate their commitment to craft, block print in particular. But really, it’s their fearless embrace of colours that truly sets them apart. This photoshoot, featuring a radiant Hareem Farooq, reflects their ethos brilliantly.
A nod towards tradition, wrapped in a boldly effervescent colour palette. Also, this is hands down the prettiest Hareem has ever looked. Find The Pink Tree Company here.
5. Anoushey Ashraf Effortlessly Elegant in a Blocked Textiles Tunic
Anoushey is the shape of my adolescent ambitions. The pioneer of girl-next-door charm, at a time when many in Pakistan didn’t understand it; her spirit is ever spritely. This is how I imagine her, always.
Smiling, radiating positivity, and absolutely owning a fuss-free fashion-moment. This playful Blocked Textile’s tunic really does represent her style perfectly. Find Blocked Textiles here.
From The Block
So, if you skipped over my videos, and just focused on the pretty pictures; that’s okay. I’ll just reiterate the salient points. Firstly, artisans and small business, everywhere have been adversely impacted. Secondly, crafts, like block printing, are important parts of our culture, and need to be preserved.
Finally, focusing on them could be the start of your smaller, more carefully curated, sustainable wardrobe. I know lawn mania has well and truly hit Pakistan. But I’d love it if we could recalibrate, and focus on something much more mindful and unique.