Syeda Amera is fresh faced with the collected demeanor of a genuinely cool person. Upon meeting her, I notice there’s nothing gushy, no flowery welcomes or flourishes. She has the calm confidence of a talented person who knows that her work speaks for itself. Having received rave reviews and tons of international press, Amera made it back home to chat with us about the floating catwalk on the Hudson River in NYC where she showcased her latest collection.
How did you get started with your work?
I started my work in 2008. It was a sudden decision taken based on the support and encouragement I received from family and my friends in the media. They all kept telling me how great my own outfits looked (which I used to design myself) and that I should take up fashion designing professionally. Gradually, I started getting offers from mall owners and retail spaces to open up my own store. It was just so spectacular for me, I was so young at the time, just 16 and still doing my O Levels! Initially, my success was just God-gifted and it was only later that I polished my skills and took courses in fashion from France and Singapore. After that I never looked back.
Are you more interested in bridals or prÃªt?
Technically I do luxury prÃªt, but I would say that my work is not exactly prÃªt â€” that’s heavily dictated by market concerns. I also do heavy couture dresses which are totally western and contemporary in their styles and cuts. I don’t do desi bridals which are typically for shaadis and nikkahs. I do make outfits for engagements and valimas for the adventurous fashion-forward bride. Basically I only really take on projects where I don’t feel artistically restrained.
I make outfits for engagements and nikkahs for the adventurous fashion-forward bride
Tell us about your production and design processes?
We all take inspiration from things. In the case of the recent fashion show in NYC, I took inspiration from the sea. We used colors like sea greens, aqua and all shades of blues. For the embellishments, we used pearls and crystals and created transparent flowy looks. Our inspirations keep varying so it depends on what we want to showcase and of course on the season and current trends.
For production, we start off with a sketch. We then get together all the materials, cloth, embellishments, etc. that we shortlist to go with the desired look in the sketch and then proceed to make a 5 to 10″ sample. We then get into pattern cutting, superimpose the sample onto the pattern and then follow several processes of trial and error to end up with the perfect piece.
What’s it like designing for the ramp and entering the real fashion market?
The clothes I’m making nowadays are all mostly red carpet style gowns and cocktail dresses but still very wearable. And everyone who’s walking the red carpet nowadays is constantly trying something different. I also personally believe that increasingly the gap between reality and ramp will become negligible.
Tell us about your most recent show at the floating catwalk on Hudson River?
It was such a great experience, a dream come true. The cream of the fashion world from all across the globe saw my collection being walked down the ramp. There were reporters and fashion writers and bloggers from every notable fashion magazine. We were featured in Tattler, Vogue and Glamour. Not only was all this exposure such a treat but getting to see so many other very talented designers’ works on the ramp was incredible.
Increasingly the gap between reality and ramp will become negligible
This collection is said to have been inspired by the sea. Can you tell us how you worked it?
The color forecasting for 2015 was all muted and particularly lots of blues and aqua and sea greens. And since our inspiration was the sea, it teamed up perfectly for us. The pearls were something that just fit and crystals and sparkle will never be out of fashion!
What materials/techniques do you like to use in your work?
I mostly use net — net that’s been mixed with some organza works perfectly for a beautiful, ethereal feminine look. And when you work with transparencies, net works so well since most other translucent materials such as chiffons don’t hold up work and embellishments as well. This fabric has a wonderful delicateness and yet a structure of its own. For my next collection, I’m planning to work with organza.
If you were to characterize yourself within the industry, do you have a particular identity?
Everyone tells me always that I have a really international kind of look. Mostly everyone in Pakistan is doing very traditional looking work with lots of kaam, etc. You could say that my work is feminine yet cutting edge as far as fashion is concerned.
Where is your client base located?
We currently stock in three different locations: Dubai, Chicago and London. Our buyers there mostly buy in bulk and then resell to their clients and I don’t know who they are! Since we are from here, we try to maintain a strong client base in Pakistan too.