A fashion magazine (the only kind of magazines available in Pakistan) asked me to write a piece for them about anything. The writer who commissioned it subsequently left the magazine with my piece falling between the cracks. So here it is for free:
Let me tell you a secret. Lean in a bit, I don’t want anyone else to hear. Ready? Here goes: Fashion scares me. No really. It gives me the shivers. Two things that I fear more than anything else in the world are Fashion and Sharks. Why Sharks? Blame those damn Discovery channel specials. Have you seen them? The ones where Jaws comes flying out of the water like a torpedo with teeth, grabs onto a whatever morsel is innocently floating on the surface and then crashes back down with the force of Adnan Sami Khan landing on a water bed. Those things are utterly horrific. I don’t care how many times the narrator tells me “Sharks are more scared of humans than we are of them.” Humans don’t come at you with a head full of teeth when scared, we urinate ourselves politely before crying hysterically. Until I see a shark do that, I refuse to believe the narrator.
I would like to think that Fashion is more scared of me than I am of it. I think that’s why I pick on it all the time. Is there anything that presents itself as a more vulnerable target for mockery than the fashion industry? An entire industry that churns out an endless army of pretentious fevered egos talking about limited color palettes and glorious seams, with shelves full of poorly designed, terribly written and horrendously photographed magazines that feature the same three models on their cover in various stage of starvation. All focused on a group of people who haven’t innovated since the Kurti. These are the things I always say to get a laugh. It works by the way. Most people are sick of the Fashion industry. Do we need two fashion channels? Was one not enough to highlight the mild variations on a tired theme that every designer claims is defeating the Taliban like a paisley covered drone? Must they be our only source of celebrity? Can’t we do better? No wonder there is an exhalation of anger in every laugh I hear from the audience when I make fun of fashion. But that’s not the secret I was going to tell you.
The secret is, I hate fashion, I mock fashion, I ridicule fashion because…because it scares the beejezus out of me. Look at me. Fashion, style and the intricacies of looking good are clearly a mystery to me. I try. God do I try. I’ve been buying GQ’s and Esquire’s since I was thirteen. But I just can’t understand them. The photos of men wearing slim cut suits with pin striped crisp shirts might as well be a series of hieroglyphics on a wall in Cairo for all I can understand them. That’s why, for most of my late teens, I roamed around in formal black pants, a purple kurti, grey socks and snub nosed Bata shoes. I thought that was fashion, until I realized good fashion doesn’t involve mocking laughter from everyone who sees you. When I met my wife, (who has tried to hard, so very very hard to get me to learn about fashion) I was wearing a button down shirt, track pants that swished when I walked and open toed sandals. Even right now, as I am writing this, the clothes I am wearing can charitably be described as grotesque. Most days I look like my cupboard attacked and raped me with clashing patterns and mismatched textures. And then, dressed like a clown prostitute with hints of business formal, I look at the fashion industry with its beautiful women and gorgeous clothes. And I hate it. So, like a shark I attack it. There, the next time one of you hear me mocking you, just know it’s because deep down I just want to look good.