BBDO PAKISTAN, Lahore / UN WOMEN / 2018
The Pakistani bride is known to wear an elaborate wedding outfit: bright, colorful, heavily embroidered dresses combined with flashy jewelery. Every year, the bridal-wear fashion industry in Pakistan hosts large events in which new styles are revealed for that year. These shows are typically attended by local celebrities.
This year, our idea was to hijack the country's largest bridal-wear fashion show by collaborating with the nation's best known fashion designer and by introducing a new kind of bridal gown that represents the sad state of affairs in Pakistan, and highlights the fact that an early marriage results in loss of education and empowerment.
The new "Bridal Uniform" was formed by merging a typical school girl's uniform and a traditional Pakistani bride's wedding gown.
In collaboration with the nation's best known bridal-wear artist Ali Xeeshan, we meticulously designed a new kind of a bridal outfit — one that symbolizes the trade-off that takes place when a girl is married young and is deprived of her right to an education — and revealed it on the bridal fashion industry's biggest night.
As the showstopper of the night, amidst bejewelled adult brides in elaborate gowns, and with the nation's top fashion bloggers recording, out walked on the ramp a little girl wearing a Pakistani schoolgirl's uniform embellished with beautiful traditional bridal motifs.
The Bridal Uniform had been created by merging traditional wedding outfit embroidery patterns with a common government school girl's uniform.
The stunt was then followed up by a print piece in a local fashion magazine, and instructional posters printed for on-ground NGOs to showcase in villages.
The disruptive stunt went viral and generated almost 500 million social and news-media impressions, more than any campaign for this cause has ever done in the country.
The topic of child marriages started trending, and both the international and local press reported on it. A sitting senator of parliament took note and a bill proposing to raise the legal marriage age to 18 has now been sent to the Islamic Council of Pakistan, who has agreed to review it. The senator has directly acknowledged the effect of this campaign in the efforts to pass the bill.
#BridalUniform, besides being adopted by on-ground local NGOs to educate villagers on the importance of keeping girls in schools, has also made an appearance on catwalks in Berlin and LosAngeles, and talks are underway to feature the stunt at New York Fashion Week to highlight the same issue in seven different countries.