Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

'Fashion Week' first for Pakistan

By Elettra Neysmith
BBC News

Model at Karachi show
A creation from one of Pakistan's many fashion designers

Pakistan is hosting its first ever fashion week in the city of Karachi against a backdrop of heavy security.

Around 30 Pakistani designers are taking part in the event which ends on Saturday.

The shows are taking place in the luxury Marriott hotel. Last year, the hotel's branch in the capital Islamabad was devastated by a massive truck bomb.

The organisers say they hope to show a different side of Pakistan than the usual images of suicide bombings.

The event had been postponed after threats to security which kept foreign models and designers away, but the fashion world in Pakistan was determined to stage its shows.

"After many, many years, fashion in Pakistan is being taken seriously," said leading Pakistani designer, Rizwan Beyg, who has designed for international jet-setters, including the late Princess Diana.

There's a lot of creativity and artistry that survives in the face of all opposition
Rizwan Beyg
Pakistani fashion designer

Midriffs and cleavage

While women in much of Muslim, conservative Pakistan wear headscarves and baggy shalwar-kameez (pyjama and long tunic), in the financial hub of Karachi, jeans and T-shirts are more likely to be seen.

On the fashion week catwalks, bare midriffs and cleavage are also on show just two hours' flight time from the militant hubs in the country's troubled north-west.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about Pakistan," Mr Beyg said. "A dark picture of Pakistan is being painted globally, and we wanted to show that there's a lot of creativity and artistry that survives in the face of all opposition."

The event comes as the army continues its offensive against Taliban militants in the tribal region of South Waziristan, and a wave of suicide bombings and attacks that have killed more than 300 people over the past month.

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