Mahira Khan at CANNES

A fashion report on how well the diva fared with her wardrobe choices at the French Riviera

Mahira Khan became the first Pakistani to represent L’Oréal Pakistan and walk down the illustrious red carpet at 71st Cannes Film Festival 2018. The iconic moment proved to be a cause of immense joy for our nation, but of course, it also put an incredible amount of pressure on the actress, for she had to join the many leading ladies of L’Oréal Paris and look amazing while at it. Cannes, in our part of the world perhaps, attracts more attention for the breathtaking red carpet appearances it invites every year, particularly from Aishwarya Rai, Sonam Kapoor, and now Deepika Padukone. During her time at Cannes, Mahira was introduced to the coveted L’Oréal Paris global make-up and hair styling team of Stephane Lancien and visited the L’Oréal Paris studio in Cannes to shoot video segments for the global giant. She also attended photo calls at the iconic Martinez Beach as well as got official beauty portraits done by renowned French photographer Flavien Prioreau. The Humsafar star touched down in a baby pink top and skirt paired with black shades and heels. Those who feel she should have worn more eastern outfits should keep the same expectations from her as they do from Bollywood and Hollywood beauties there. The VJ-turned-actress was representing Pakistan, yes, but as the brand ambassador of an international brand at an international venue. Thus, I somewhat agree with her choices, but could she have done better with what she chose, or souped up her sartorial decisions altogether? Absolutely! Credit (or blame) for her choices goes to Mahira’s stylist Amar Faiz. In fact, all of her styling team was of Pakistani origin and flew in to Cannes especially, including the stylist from Oslo, Norway, the make-up artist from London and the photographer from New York.

In one of her first appearances, the lady in question was snapped in a dove grey halter crop top paired with breezy pleated palazzo pants and a floral Lawn opera shrug by Élan along with strappy nude sandals and Zohra Rahman earrings. She wore her hair in a slick bun and let her dewy skin glow in the sun. Most of the peeps back home lauded this look, as she struck a pose looking like a true beauty. She was next seen in a Menahel & Mehreen’s pastel pink sari adorned with silver embroidery and pleated hemline worn with an embellished strappy blouse. Mahira also wore a pair of beautiful diamond-studded emerald earrings by Aliel Jewellers.

To give the finishing touches, she kept her make-up minimal and tied her locks in a soft fishtail braid which she jokingly called “khajoor wali choti”. Up after that, she strutted out and about in a canary yellow flowy strip top worn with high-waisted deep blue by Solace London paired with Christian Louboutin heels and a wide white belt. Her no-make-up flawlessness remained a constant, thank god for that. Unfortunately, so did her boring loose waves. The top seemed a bit ill-fitted, the fabric of which, too, seemed to be a bad choice according to the weather and the over-sized belt looked out of place, in my opinion. However, the colours stood out in the brightness of the day in front of the sea and looked good on the actress who is usually seen in pastels and soft shades.

Stylists Maneka Harisinghani and Lorna Mcgee styled Mahira in a gorgeous lavender number by Dubai-based designer Maison Yeya. The strapless gown featured a structured detail across the waist. The duo accessorised this outfit with a pair of diamond-studded “chand sitara” earrings named Rekhta from Pakistani brand Kiran Fine Jewellery. In between fittings, Mahira also shared on her instagram a monochrome picture of her rocking an androgynous look in a white shirt and trousers. Ironically, this one look got more viral for all the right reasons than the rest. Mahira was spotted attending the Chopard party in a dramatic black and fuschia gown from Nicolas Jebran’s SS18 Cyclone in Motion collection. The off-the-ramp, body-hugging glittery one shoulder piece with gigot sleeves was paired with toned down make-up, neutral lips and a messy bun. For one of the main interviews where Mahira and other leading ladies shared their life stories, the actress rocked a dapper glam-rock look in powder blue suit worn with a white shirt by Florence-based designer Ermanno Scervino. Keeping the weather in mind, Mahira’s pastel choices have been really refreshing and easy-on the-eyes in comparison to what we usually see on red carpets. These dresses have also gelled in well with her personal style and helped her look elegant and confident. For one of her interviews, Mahira went ahead with jeans and white shirt, much like Sonam and Deepika. The high-top white tee and light blue flared jeans worn with silver Gucci heels (which Mahira joked “sometimes your stylist lets you wear your own shoes”) was quintessential. Mahira being comfortable in her own skin and enjoying her moment in the spotlight in a fun off-moment.

For her probably the most stunning appearance at the French Riviera, the actress joined the likes of Sonam Kapoor and Jane Fonda, also L’Oreal representatives, sashaying down in Alberta Ferretti at the premiere of BlacKkKlansman by acclaimed director Spike Lee. Her midnight blue satin gown by the Italian couturier, pleated details and a cascading fishtail which accentuated Mahira’s svelte figure was paired with Chopard jewels, retro waves inspired by 50s Hollywood icon Rita Hayworth, cat eye liner and a hot red pout. Zurain comments, and I agree, that the gown would have looked better on someone with a tall frame, but since her actual dress for the event was stuck at customs and this was a backup plan in which she still managed to look stunning, we could give her a break. As the brand’s hair care spokesperson, I feel like Mahira’s locks should have been experimented and played with, however, they were a let-down. She wore her tresses down in loose waves for the most part which, albeit looked good, lacked the oomph factor.

Ehtesham Ansari


Mahira is an utter personification of confidence; what she wore should not be the question, we all should be looking into which event/meeting she wore it to before commenting on her or her stylist’s choices. Her style statement mostly is minimal and she flaunted it, which for many might be dreary, disappointing or safe played, but it does not matter. Most of her looks worked, it’s just that attention to detail was missing.

Aamir Bukhari

Blogger @ Aamiriat

First things first, people have been largely unkind to her with respect to her appearance there (Cannes) and also, consequently what she was wearing primarily because of the changing societal values. They are used to seeing her in a "pyari beti wronged in society, crying and sulking in corner" avatar, so they feel almost betrayed when they see her in western dresses doing things they hadn't expected of her.

As for her choices, I liked the Bluemarine dress and the lilac one. Everybody feels she should have gone more dramatic, but I feel for the first time she did a good job with Élan and Menahel/Mehreen. I just wish she [also] used brands like Fahad Hussayn, Zaheer Abbas, Umar Sayeed, Shehla Chatoor, and Iman Ahmed.

Zurain Imam

Fashion Journalist

I believe, perhaps, too much was expected from her. I think many Pakistanis, especially among the Pakistani fashion industry might have expected her and wanted her to wear a stunning eastern or fusion ensemble from a leading Pakistani designer or brand; but I think that would have put Mahira and her stylist in a tight spot; favouring one designer and offering them international exposure. But ultimately, Mahira did not have to please anyone except herself with respect to her sartorial choices and had a responsibility to feel comfortable with her and her stylist’s decision. Educated, worldly and informed senior fashion industry notables lauded most of her looks. Overall, she fared well from my fashion purview because in all her looks she looked confident in her own skin and exuded a je ne sais quoi glamour and gravitas.

Huma Adnan

Designer @ FNKAsia

Mahira looked like her real self at Cannes. She has an old-world charm about her and she carried that with a lot of oomph and glamour. From the desi sari to the Bluemarine off shoulder dress, she had it all under her control. Her make-up was flawless and choice of jewellery was just what her style is. A bit of Pakistan on the red carpet would have been a welcome flavour at Cannes but, nonetheless, we are proud of her for bringing the country on the world stage.

Wearing Alberta Ferretti and a necklace by Chopard.
In Menahel & Mehreen and Aliel Jewellers.
By the sea in Solace London and Christian Louboutin heels.
Chanelling Leonard Paris.
Looking pretty in pastel by Maison Yeya and Kiran Fine Jewellery.
Donning Ermanno Scervino.
Rocking androgyny in between fittings.
Ending the fashion parade in floral kimono top and pants.
Glowing in an off-shoulder Bluemarine.
Prancing by the sea in Élan.