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Peeping into Noor’s Boudoir
A few days before her debut show, Noorulain Agha helped me wriggle into one of her pencil skirts. We agreed that we loved the skirt on me. We did not agree on the top. Noor, as she’s referred to fondly, has a clear idea of what I should wear, and it is in this moment I see the Type A personality peep out. She tries again, with an almost badgering insistence, for another option. I’m picky. We scrap the skirt and opt for shorts. Somehow, I don’t believe that victory was mine. “I was expecting to go berserk. But I am kind of a control freak...like, Type A personality who has to plan everything from before,” she said, laughing as she described the final days of preparation for the show. Her accent is thick, with only the slightest trace of whatever Trinidadian culture she has inherited since moving here six years ago. A native of Karachi, Pakistan, Agha graduated from UTT’s Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design (CAFD) and quickly got to work on launching her eponymous luxury clothing line.
I remember that “decadent” was the word that came up during our chat. Yet at the end of the show, only one word bounced around the lobby of Cascadia Hotel: “Interesting.” Nothing more, nothing less. Without veering too far off track, I’ve often wondered about this type of response. It’s a prevailing trend I’ve noticed—particularly in the fashion industry, and it’s something that seems to be entirely complicit in our designers’ rise and fall. What was probably even more interesting than Agha’s debut collection show on November 19 was the guest list. Almost everyone was there. The audience was a glorious collage of local fashion cognoscenti. Designers, old and new, were scattered throughout the horde of influencers and fashion bloggers, and flanked by a gaggle of models and former beauty queens. Runway models, including America’s Next Top Model Nik, were flown in from New York. It was a heavyweight turnout for a heavyweight show. However, this didn’t necessarily translate into people “getting it.”
On that night, the theme was Noor Boudoir (inspired by the French word boudoir, which means bedroom) and the execution was, in fact, very interesting. With a lineup of colour-blocked jumpsuits and equally-intense, almost-fun, asymmetrical skirts with quirky curly hems, Agha certainly didn’t shy away from blending colours. These bright, jaunty separates dominated the first half of her presentation—although each featured these zippered leather panels that made me think slightly less boudoir and a little more Christian Grey Room of Pain. Which totally works if you’re into that sort of thing. The fabrics—silk, lace, and printed cotton, along with velvet and the aforementioned bits of leather—pieced together a collection of column dresses, textured cover-ups and flouncy skirts, along with a few pieces I can only describe as “tough-chic.” I imagined an edgy, new-age harem girl wearing the red, high-waisted short-shorts (which gave us in the front row an uncomfortably intimate introduction to the runway model), along with the studded bustier, or maybe the shredded skirt, its tendrils belying the degree of decadence I believe the designer was aiming for with this collection.
Agha also presented a series of draped pashminas and printed cotton dresses—some embroidered, some not—that just seemed like filler pieces, meant to punctuate the “real” collection.
Finally, as the evening wore on, the collection dipped into a sultry, provocative set. One hashtag-Noor-Boudoir piece after another, models sauntered down the runway to eyebrow-raised delight. Delicate wisps of lace and semi-transparent polkadot sheaths, textured in velvet, left little to the imagination. The lace dresses were well-constructed and offered daring slits as a monumental ode to the boudoir theme. One standout piece for me was a transparent lace gown, bright red, with a split back that cascaded wonderfully down the model’s spine. These elements—the careful draping, the lace caressing each curve, the dancing hems on the silk cocktail dresses—embody the modern woman. This is where we find, and maximise on, the bold, elegant, and precisely-feminine consumer. This is what makes Noor Agha’s work truly interesting.
—Mel Gabriel is the editor-in-chief of Trinidad Lookbook.
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