In the central decades of the 20th century, haute couture was the maximum expression of a luxurious and specifically feminine experience. Even today when we talk about couture, one imagines a world of exclusiveness and exquisiteness around the creations designed by the couturiers and tailor-made for each client. One also thinks about the etiquette governing the purchasing process and the social contexts where these creations were exhibited. It is only right that an exquisite attire is displayed somewhere that matches its opulence.
Celebrating the craft couture of our sub-continent and its shared heritage, Diva’ni Pakistan recently opened its doors to its flagship store at Gulberg, Lahore – the culture capital of Pakistan. With the inheritance of a 75 years legacy of the parent company, the craft couture fashion brand was founded in 2013 by Creative Director, Sanya Dhir. It celebrates the revival of ancient, authentic, hand-crafted zardozi, the nostalgia and lingering beauty of ancient Punjab and Awadh (Oudh) province.
The translation of Diva’ni ideology comes alive in its store design as it brings to life a world of refined and genteel elegance. The focus is on providing a regal experience through monochromatic crafted spaces inspired from Mughal architecture.
The experience begins from the moment one steps into the magnificent marbled lobby with subtle wash of natural backlit onyx ceiling and intricate jaalis on either side, replicating the hallways of the olden days. The statement ceiling with more than 100 refurbished shamadans brings out the volume of space with tone and textures that are subtle and warm. It creates an immersive space experience which evokes luxury and allows one to sink back into a different world.
As you move ahead, you will find the antique artwork done by Raja Ravi Varma, sourced from the royal family of Baroda, The Lakshmi Vilas Palace, which is very unique in its existence. Framed proudly within a Jaisalmer stone and a wooden etched wall proves that it was indeed the focal point for the inception of this store.
Moreover, symmetry is the essence to each design element here. As you enter the central space, one takes a pause to admire the arresting craftsmanship and design of the handcrafted jaalis, arches and wooden inlay table especially commissioned for the brand. Styled together with restored Persian rugs sourced from Iran, old curio’s and antique glass blown chandeliers, this flagship is a place one tends to linger in. Hand-cut bevelled mirrors, leafed jaalis, with a richly carved arch forms define the retail salon. Highlighted with varied forms of glass blown hand painted attar bottles, vintage brass beaten accents, and cultural table settings this space is reminiscent of our bygone memoirs.
The signature bridal lounge is defined by softly lit arched backdrops complemented perfectly by vaulted ceiling with layered mirrors cut in unique mehraab form making it a highlight of the space design. The hand-carved wardrobes curved along the periphery add another dimension to the outlet. The hand-painted art forms, antique ceiling to floor hand-painted 20-feet chandelier, the etched jaalis, and the rich bronze carpet contrasted by a 175-year-old Turkmenistan rug makes the space calm yet regal. The trial rooms have been given their due with the minutest of detailing and designing. Each wedding ensemble at the brand celebrates the undying legacy of our sub-continent. The store celebrates the mood of that era with use of traditional crafts of carving, etching, leafing, stone laying and antique precious and semi-precious accents reflective of this culture.
Sanya Dhir and Shakil Zindani, Directors of the brand, shared their thoughts on the launch of the flagship store, “Diva’ni Pakistan has been our most satisfying journey and we are proud to commence this new chapter with our 6500-square-foot maximalist flagship in Lahore; curated with handpicked couture collections displayed amongst an experience that is reflective of our sub-continents shared heritage, and culture from by-lines of Delhi and Lahore. It is an immersive space, designed with labour of love and we sincerely hope that people will thoroughly enjoy it.”
The craft nurtured and curated at the store is peppered with Persian and Mughal influences and the art and craft of Sindh, Amritsar, and Multan. The journey of craft to couture from this chapter of history that the brand seeks to keep alive today is a vintage kaleidoscope; a confluence of many influences which came together to form a signature aesthetic.