Islamabad based bridal designer, Shazia Kiyani feels strongly that only if her clients look good, does she look good. Keeping that in mind, she advises women on flattering cuts that suit their specific body type. Shazia talks about the dos and don’ts of fashion and her upcoming Fall/Winter Wedding Collection to Haider Rifaat

By Haider Rifaat

What drew you to fashion design? Were you always passionate about it?

From the very start, I had decided that if I were to work professionally, it would only be as a designer. I was very certain about it.

You are perhaps the pioneer designer with a bridal studio in Islamabad. What made you take this initiative?

I was into fashion and I loved wearing clothes. I was a painter as well so I had that creative element. When I designed a dress, my friends would request me to create the same dress for them. When more people began to approach me, I decided not to work from home but take designing on as a proper profession. I eventually designed my own collection and had a grand opening for my studio.

How have customers responded to your label in Islamabad?

The response is very positive. The concept of a design atelier did not exist in the capital city. People really appreciated one to one personal appointments and the studio’s comfortable ambiance.

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is the way you carry a dress. A short top is not suitable for every body type. If you carry something regular extraordinarily well, it is fashion.

As a designer, what is your input in the creation of a dress?

I try to give my 110 per cent. I start from scratch and complete the finished products on my own. I am not the only one involved. It is a team effort. My team is quite helpful but I never compromise on creativity. If I am producing something, I try to look at it from all the angles. I receive daily images so my involvement is crucial in almost everything.

Tell me about your upcoming  collection.

It comprises of flattering, traditional dresses with long silhouettes and vibrant as well as subtle colours that work well in the Fall season. The collection is inspired by detailed work and 3-D motifs. I hope we receive a positive response.

What is the colour palette of this collection?

We have kept a very interesting palette consisting of shades of deep red, gold, burgundy and green amongst others. We have blended these three vibrant colours with golds.

Which fashion weeks is your label a part of this Fall?

There is Bridal Couture Week scheduled in December, followed by London Fashion Week. I’ve been invited many times to Milan Fashion Week, but it falls during the peak time for our business and we already have two very important shows to do. If I find time for it, I will definitely go.

Affordable fashion is the way to go now. Does your brand fulfill this requirement without compromising on quality?

We try our level best. Islamabad is not a market with business communities. We try to provide products at different price points.

A majority of Pakistani women fall in the UK size 14 bracket. Are there any flexible size options available to women?

We custom make dresses, take detailed measurements and schedule fittings. Not every cut suits everyone, so we suggest flattering cuts to our customers. There are some designs that have short lengths that I lengthen because short dresses just don’t flatter shorter, plumper bodies. I provide my clients the same feel and texture with longer dresses.

Of all seasons, which collection is sells the most

Our Winter collection sells the most. There are holidays in different parts of the world and people are eager to visit Pakistan for the wedding season. That is perhaps the best time for us and our sales are quite high.

Where else in the world is your label operative?

We launched in London last year. Our next target is Birmingham and New Jersey. I need a big team for this kind of work. It is complete handwork and you need skilled workers for it. It’s a gradual process but we will be starting soon. Either Birmingham or Manchester is definitely our target this year and we will later branch out to the U.S.

What do you look for in models for your professional shoots?

I look at their expressions and the way they give meaning to a dress while carrying it. There is an element of royalty involved when models wear my outfits.

What typical component in womenswear should change?

That’s a very important question. I find overdone work very typical. Everyone is excessively adding to the dresses, including myself. We are not conceptualizing a design that is in line with international trends.

Does your brand offer men’s fashion?

There are kurtas and sherwanis for men but they are custom made. We are planning a menswear line and luxury pret. Although I have a team, it is a one-woman show for now (laughs). If you have someone to support you in your family, things can work out. Recently, my son has started helping me so I can expand on the idea.

Has your family helped you establish a successful career or did you have to put up with struggles?

There are always hurdles when you start something but my family has been supportive. My children have helped me a lot. I must thank my youngest one, Afaan. He was only four years old when I began working. If I am under pressure, my son encourages me and counsels me. He has been very helpful.

Does pressure ever get to you when you are leading the front and creating gowns and diverse wardrobe options from start to finish?

When you reach a certain level in your career, your personality becomes stronger and you overcome pressure. Our bridal season December through February is an incredibly tough time. The customers panic and we have orders to produce in a timely fashion while also juggling bridal weeks.

Who inspires you in the field of fashion design?

I would say Nilofer Shahid. Internationally, I really like Zuhair Murad and Elie Saab. They are doing great work!

Are there any style no-nos we should know about?

I never consider something outdated. Some designs are timeless and if carried well, they look good on people. For me, a big no-no is not following your bodyline. Say there’s a healthy woman who requests me to make a lehnga or a gharara for her son’s wedding that would be a no for me. I give suggestions to my clients and help them with different options.

Good Times


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