Lawn cloth, popularly known as lawn, is a plain weave textile that has a soft, cotton feel. The lawn fabric is created using fine, high count yarns, which results in a silky and un-textured feel. In Pakistan, where summer and hot weather last 9 months of the year, the lawn fabric has become a staple dress essential to combat the hot, humid days and nights (See HERE). Back in the day, when I was a child living in Karachi, we didn’t have this fabric available. Instead, we had cotton fabrics that required hours of your day to wash and iron. Then around 2001, the lawn fabric was introduced and women went crazy for its comfortable feel and psychedelic designs. This was the first time I found myself, like other women, going to various shops in small streets and looking for lace, ribbons, and buttons to stitch onto their lawn outfits.
Fast forward a decade and a half, the lawn fabric has seeped into party-wear as well. It is not a common sight to see luxury designer lawn coordinated with designer heels and clutches in brunches, luncheons, and even on Eid. The lawn fabric has evolved into something more than daily wear; rather it is an expression of your individuality. With designer lawn, women are guaranteed a dress with all its finishing, meaning you do not need to hunt for anything to embellish it. I remember in the 1980s, my mom used to dress up in everyday clothes made of heavier fabrics such as cotton and linen and not as patterned. The trend was color blocking and color contrasting back then-think emerald green shirts with fuchsia shalwars (bottoms). Yikes! Then when I visited in 2001, I learned about the newest thing in fashion town-lawn. My aunt took me to her favorite store and I bought my first lawn- an apple green three-piece suit with “Mughal-ish” paisley designs. I got it stitched at that time’s latest style.
In 2016, I looked into purchasing some lawn suits again. This time I wanted to see what the fuss was over designer lawn suits. My aunt bought me a Sana Safinaz and a Nishat Linen suit and I utilized the wonderful websites of Tena Durrani and Gul Ahmed to purchase four suits in California. Of course, I had to wait six months before I got them stitched in Karachi. With lawn make your tailor your best friend. The rule of the thumb is the more talented they are, the more expensive they are. Sorry.
Since then I see lawn prints and stitching evolve furthermore. I think all designers, especially Farah Talib Aziz, Elan, and Tabassum Mughal, are responsible for the luxurious take on this otherwise common fabric. While Farah Talib Aziz uses stitching and designing prowess to play their floral and pastel lawn with ribbons and lace, Elan experiments with more European influences and fuses different patterns like geometric motifs with florals. Tabassum Mughal has gone so far as to use more textured embellishments such as crochet lace, multi-dimensional flowers, and 3D or Digital embroidery. The dupattas are not the usual lawn fabric, but fabrics like net, silk, and chiffon enhance the lawn suit. Obviously, you can’t wear them as daily or work wear, but they certainly are nice options for a day event.
In terms of general embellishments, lawn fabric has come far from days of lace and ribbons. Now I see tassels, pearls, and even fringes adorning lawn. Even the ways the lawn suits are stitched have changed. With more western influences, we have ladies wearing lawn capris, pants, and pleated or non-pleated bottoms. The shirts are not the simple kameez style either, but rather creatively designed using cold-shoulder sleeves and off-shoulder necklines. The lawn fabric has become certainly more fun to wear, ladies.
Where I think lawn should go next:
I like how ladies are embellishing their lawn with trimmings such as pearls. I would love to continue that and see colorful, glass beads on the hem of shirts, dupattas, and even pants. Something that I think designers like Farah Talib Aziz, Tena Durrani, and Tabassum Mughal are already doing is mixing different fabrics such as silk or net on shirt collars and sleeves. This gives the lawn suit more personality, texture, and hence more dimension. I want to continue seeing statement sleeves and trendy hemlines like tulip hemline (I swear I just learned about this today on Instagram). Designers should continue adding bolder geometric prints like stripes with florals or checks or plaid or polka dots. That will make any outfit pop regardless of any embellishments, but this is what I love about lawn the most – its versatility.
How to accessorize them:
This is where I have the most fun with my lawn suits. I play up my lawn suits with western jewelry like hoop or tassel earrings. I don’t like to see busy clutches and bags on already busy lawn prints. Instead, here I would like to see bags serve as color blocks and stand apart from the lawn print. Maybe select one color from the lawn print and enhance it with a Hermes bag? Lol. Instead, you can get creative with your shoe selections. Shoes like Sophia Webster, Dolce Gabbana have vivid patterns such as leaves, florals, and even leopard print that can serve as a contrast to the patterns and colors of the lawn. As long it is well thought out, mixing pattern on pattern is a great idea. In terms of jewelry, there should be minimal jewelry. Instead, come up with creative ways to tie the dupattas. Maybe focus around the wrist like Rushna Jahan (see picture) or around the neck, on your head or cinch it with a belt (see picture). I love the concept of straw hats with lawn. How about tying your dupatta to your hat? Well, these are just some tips to play up your lawn suits. Ladies, don’t forget your big sunglasses. Happy Shopping!!