Haute to Trot- Meet Lahore’s Freshest Crop of Designers

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Meet the young talents, Mehryn Zafar, Natasha Kamal and Noor Mahmood as they take us through their journey. Our endearing girls about town rock fall- friendly hues in their inimitable and refreshing signature styles. We love how these girls add oomph to their looks by adding different elements. All three designers are pictured wearing outfits from their own labels. Beauty, brains & style – three fabulous girls, three great stories! Read on..

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MEHRYN ZAFAR

I did my BA from BNU in Mass Communication and always wondered why I wasn’t in a fashion institute. I decided I wanted to be a part of the fashion industry as soon as I moved back to Lahore because I learnt about the culture and tradition here. My parents wanted us to move back, so we could grow up in Pakistan surrounded by family! I have three older sisters, who have helped me out a lot in starting my own business, but all the credit goes to my parents especially my father who has been my rock and I am where I am only because of him! Being the youngest in the family and starting my own business at the age of 23 transformed me immensely – from being a socially awkward kid and the spoiled youngest family member to independent and hardworking.

When did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer?

I knew when I first went to Liberty, near khussa mehal side and saw an altogether new use for colours; in embellishments and embroideries.

Additionally, I also visited Bunto Kazmi’s house with my mother, growing up. Naturally, the energy and vibrancy of her studio drew me in like a magnet! From then on, I knew one day I want to do what she does.

What was the first article of clothing you designed?

It was for myself, during the popular basant era in Pakistan when it was common to decide your outfit months before. It was a teal blue short kameez with multi-coloured embroidery with a patyala shalwar.

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Describe your aesthetic sense in three words?

Unique, vivid and traditional

What are the biggest myths about your profession?

There are so many like your bag should match your shoes, navy and black don’t go together, you have to be model tall to wear long dresses or wide- leg trousers, it all comes down to perfect fit! And last but not the least, no mixing gold and silver.

Who is your muse/inspiration?

Nature plays a huge role in my daily dose of inspiration – I love earth tones and florals. As far as a muse goes, I can only think of my best friend, Hira Hashmi. She would make even a paper bag trendy!

What, in your opinion, are the benefits of starting your own business?

There are so many benefits of having your own business. Firstly, since my family sees me working hard day and night, there’s no pressure to settle down. Living in Lahore where there’s not much to do, I feel it’s so important for girls to work. You learn so much about life and people. You understand how important it is for a woman to be independent on her own. And the best part about is it keeps you so busy you don’t realise where your day went.

What are the top five fashion must-haves this fall?

Flared pants/jeans, black crop top but not too cropped (half sleeves), small size bag (I feel massive in-your-face bags are so 2013), Mac ‘Candy Yum Yum’ lipstick and a nice watch to accessorise any outfit

How do you plan to expand your label?

I have no plans at the moment to expand my label as I’ve MashAllah been so booked with work, I haven’t even thought of expanding it yet. I do plan to take part in one of the fashion weeks, but I would say on top of my list would be the new studio I’m working on these days, as that is going to be walk-in and appointments. It will have my ready-to-wear, formals and bridals.

NATASHA KAMAL

Anyone who has known me for a long time would never have thought I would have started my own clothing brand. It was never a part of the plan – but things change and in this case, for the better. Growing up I had two options, accounting or law – it ended up being a bit of both. I completed my undergraduate degree from Royal Holloway University of London, in Management with Accounting, followed by a Diploma of Law from BPP Law School. I carried on with an internship at a law firm (Thompson & Co) and then pursuing my articles at A.F Ferguson. It was almost two years ago that I went in to work for two weeks straight, only to quit every day and be convinced otherwise. Everyone thought I was crazy for quitting on the best accounting firm in Pakistan. Finally, the day came when I decided that it would be my last. I still remember getting into the car as my brother shouted out ‘Darna Mat!” I took cupcakes as a peace offering for my whole office – it felt more like a celebration than anything else. After that, there was no looking back!

When did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer?

To be completely honest, I never thought that I would be a part of the fashion industry, but then again, I never saw myself as a chartered accountant either. I enjoy the creative process of building a piece of fashion – an iterative evolutionary process that brings my idea to life. What started off as an experiment when I moved back to Pakistan just blossomed and took on a life of its own.

What was the first article of clothing you designed?

That would be a pair of black pants! As simple as it sounds, it is one of the hardest things to find and even harder to make because of the nuances involved in cutting the perfect pair of trousers.

Describe your aesthetic sense in three words?

Avant-craft, Contemporary and Considered

What are the biggest myths about your profession?

That this business is easy.

Who is your muse/inspiration?

I don’t have a particular muse – it’s about creating the persona of an NK woman. The idea is to revamp vintage techniques and silhouettes, which are a part of our culture, and infuse them with an understated western sensibility – resulting in a modern appeal without breaking too far away from convention.

What, in your opinion, are the benefits of starting your own business?

You are in control of your own creative vision.

What are the top five fashion must- haves this fall?

A floor- duster coat, lace-up pumps, over-sized statement jewellery, belts and high-waisted pants!

How do you plan to expand your label?

We are planning on expanding our product categories to include a luxury daywear line – iconic separates, which we hope will become wardrobe essentials – something I am very excited about! Simultaneously, we are increasing our distribution and accessibility to Karachi and Islamabad and internationally, via our website, which will be launching in a few months.

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NOOR MAHMOOD

She went to Lacas for her former education and later was enrolled in the Bachelors of Jewellery design program at BNU. She’s an artist with a fearless and vivid imagination. Whether its the clothes she designs, jewellery she handcrafts or paintings she creates, she does it with an uncompromising desire to surprise her audience.

When did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer?

As an artist, I’ve always loved experimenting with mixed media, from painting to designing my upcoming jewellery line, but the desire to set up my own label definitely arose at the time of my wedding while looking for a unique piece for my mehndi. I ended up creating a piece that truly reflected who I am and that’s exactly how I wish to serve my clients.

What was the first article of clothing you designed?

I had something very specific in mind about what I wanted to wear on my mehndi. I could not find it anywhere, so I decided to take it upon myself to create something unique from scratch.

Describe your aesthetic sense in three words?

I feel my sense of style is eclectic and it also evolves, as does the fashion world.

What are the biggest myths about your profession?

That it’s a left handed job and it doesn’t require much hard work or effort to have it running successfully

What, in your opinion, are the benefits of starting your own business?

The hardest thing to do is practising self-discipline while at the same time the flexible hours, creative freedom and being my own boss is always a plus!

What are the top five fashion must- haves this fall?

Shorter hemlines, flared pants, culottes replacing lehnga cholis and cropped tops paired with sleeveless jackets.

How do you plan to expand your label?

My partner Hirah and I will soon be starting Mannequins luxury prêt line. We’re currently looking into opening a store.

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Enjoyed reading their story? Tell us who you would like for us to feature in the comments below!

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