The millennial model talks love, marriage and inspirations
Sona Rafiq walks into the pool house of a stunning farmhouse on Bedian Road in Lahore on an August afternoon and the entire room is overcome by her star personality. The pool house is tucked away in a romantic little spot at the back of the farmhouse. “Hiii guys!” says Sona, looking impossibly cool in black flared jeans and a t-shirt. She greets the make-up artist and everyone else with so much warmth that you’d never guess this girl is the lead for every single campaign in the country this season.
Do you like the jet set life? Always travelling between Lahore and Karachi? “I love it. I just feel like I’m so lucky. When I visit Lahore, I get a break from Karachi. I come to Lahore and I feel like I’m fully refreshed. But I feel like the only drawback here is that I really really miss my dog Piku.” she says making a sad face. “And I miss my husband and my friends and of course, the food!” she adds quickly.
As she gets her hair and makeup done for the the cover shoot, Sona talks to me as if she’s known me for years. She’s open and honest about her experiences in the fashion industry. We all head over to the the pool area for the first few shots â€” dressed in a Sania Maskatiya outfit, she looks like something out of a movie. And once she steps in front of the camera, everyone is mesmerized. The camera absolutely adores her. Modelling and fashion, however, weren’t always in the books for Sona who is a major in Banking and Finance â€” a field that’s worlds apart from this one. “I feel like I always liked dressing up.” says Sona. “Honestly, in my third year in college, I knew I did not want to do this. I was like ‘why am I even here?’ but then I made my Instagram public and things just fell into place after that. Everything was perfect.”
And perfect is just the right word to describe her life. Sona is married to Taha Memon AKA Taha Dawat thanks to his Instagram username. Taha runs an event management company in Karachi called Dawat. Their wedding in 2018 took over social media and Sona’s photos went viral in India because of her unique wedding looks. But how did the two meet? “I lived in Saudi Arabia all my life and I would come to Karachi every summer. I met Taha at an event. We both got along so well. He just decided he wanted to marry me! And I liked him a lot too and the rest is history.’ says Sona. When I ask her about her wedding photos going viral she laughs it off like it was no big deal and tells us a funny story about how she fell asleep with her contacts in because she was so tired the night before her Walima only to wake up with swollen eyes. Taha and Sona really do make the perfect millennial couple. Independent, so in love, all the while giving each other the space and opportunity to live their own lives.
“What does a typical date night look like for you guys?” I ask.
“Netflix and chill.” says Sona. “And a lot of pizza. That’s perfect for us.”
Sona spends the next few hours changing between outfits, posing for the camera and by the end of it everyone is tired but Sona’s energy is still the same as it was when we started. Sona says: “I have fun at all my shoots. For me, work isn’t work. Even right now I’m having so much fun! With all the girls here.” Pause. “And the boy!” she says while laughing and pointing at the photographer. She makes sure no one is left out. I am struck by not only how polite she is, but how graceful her entire presence is. The owner of the location, a 60 something man, has put out an elaborate spread for us in the dining room. We all sit down for tea and Sona talks to him openly about their mutual friends and how beautiful his house is. She is polite, strong and self-assured but there is no air of arrogance about her at all. When I ask her how it feels to be a star, she lets out a laugh and asks sheepishly, “I don’t knowâ€¦ Am I? A star?”
In recent times, the modelling industry in Pakistan has certainly been redefined. We now see so many young, educated girls pursue the field. There is now much less stigma attached to it than there once was. But I’m sure there are still some drawbacks to being a model in Pakistan. My question makes Sona evidently uncomfortable but it seems like she knew exactly what she was going to say: “Honestly, it’s not a drawback, it’s my problem but I cannot wake up early. I’m not a morning person at all. I’m always grumpy in the mornings. But that’s about it. Everything else is amazing.” I don’t push the question again.
Sona is a model in Pakistan in 2022. Where modelling is just as important as her social media presence. Her transition videos on Instagram get tens of thousands of views and her fashion and Insta skills are remarkable to say the least. But how does she do it? “I edit my videos myself. But it’s so funny, sometimes my staff takes my videos. My cousins take them. And one of my best friends, she also takes them. I just ask everyone. I’m like please can you shoot my videos? But the editing and everything else, I do that by myself. I did not know how to do that initially and I would like check other influencers or look at tutorials. I always take inspiration. I take inspiration from so many influencers out there.”
I ask her who she takes inspiration from while modelling. “I love Kendall Jenner! But in Pakistan there are so many. Oh my God! There’s Zara Peerzada, Eman Suleman. My friends, Sasha, Alaynah and Fatima Hassan. I love them.” she says. We talk a little about how nervous she is about this interview. Surprising, since her breathtaking smile and confident personality would never have you believe that even for a second. She says she doesn’t want to say the wrong thing or mess up like some other models recently have. A valid concern since the ‘cancel culture’ in Pakistan is so strong these days. It also shows how important her work is to her. This is Sona’s first sit down interview. The first time she’s sitting with a publication and talking about her life. The first of many. What advice would she give to the young generation following her? “I would say don’t take things too seriously. Just have fun with it. And while having fun just work hard. That’s what I do.”
As the day comes to an end, I realized that Sona is that person whose coolness comes not just from her trendy fashion or hip social circle but also because of her genuine kindness and concern about others. She doesn’t have a diva attitude. She’s open and easy to talk to. I felt like Sona was actually someone I had known for ages. What’s next for Sona? “What’s next for me? The person I am, I feel like I don’t plan anything. I like to go with the flow. I’m very easy. So haven’t really planned anything. I don’t know, maybe launch my own brand? Maybe start acting? Let’s see where life takes me.”
Saree: Sania Maskatiya
Clutch: Be smart
Earrings and rings: Takhleek Handmade Jewlery