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It’s the bag, stupid

We are delighted to introduce a weekly column, by the inimitable Maheen Khan, on life, fashion and its little quirks as she knows it!

Breakfast at Xander’s is an occupational hazard, though a delicious one.

I strolled in a few days back for a breakfast meeting and lo and behold: in walked Apa Gucci and Apa Hermes, with Baji Prada and Aunty Valentino in tow !

I lean forward for the ritual hug, for I do love them, but hang on, I can’t kiss  a bag! I sling my recycled backpack across my shoulder and rush out.

Images flash across my eyes of another time, another bag…

1964 The Derby, Lahore Race Club. I am with my father in the President’s box, leaning on the balcony, watching the track as it curved to the far side. A vision of mint green and white, oh so chic, so perfect with her white Gucci handbag and a white poodle on a white leash.

I stood at the rails frozen in awe. What a vision you were, Chandi Abida Hussain! You were so beautiful, petite, and soignée. The clothes, the hair, light makeup, the shoes, and yes the Gucci, all just simply fit in to the perfect fashion image, just as it should be.

I dream on. Back to Karachi in the 60’s. The nightclubs, the cocktails, elbow length black satin gloves, saris, boob tubes, stilettos, chignons, and high society’s day out…the races.

Sunday races were the high spot of the week and the Derby was the Ascot of Lahore. Such excitement! My father in his white Sharkskin suit, a printed silk handkerchief peeping out of his pocket, and a Panama jauntily on his head. Me following quietly by his side, excitement bubbling like a chocolate sundae, trying to keep out of his way.

We drive in to the Lahore races. My father being the President of the Karachi Race Club was given due protocol by the then President of the Lahore Race Club, Mr Abid Hussain. Me, all of 16 trying to be invisible .

Imagine your first trip to this magical city where Kings and Queens lived, loved and fought. My dreamy self floated in this magical place where the world’s most beautiful creatures were being led around the paddock. I gazed with awe at the finely chiseled head, long arching neck and high tail carriage of the nearest stallion and felt something come alive in me. Such energy, grace, intelligence, courage and nobility so rarely seen in man.

Very soon my gaze had shifted to the right and what I saw then, in my already enchanted state, has stayed with me to this day…but that’s another story, for another day.

“You can’t take the lady out from the handbag but you can take the handbag out from the lady.”

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