Zahra, I truly appreciate your agreeing to do this interview. Tell me a bit about your career so far, how did you become a fashion stylist?

Since a very young age I used to admire people for how they dressed. I’ve always believed that the way you dress yourself is a silent language & it introduces you before you introduce yourself to anyone else.

Thus I was always way too opinionated about what my mother dressed my sister & I in, & later I carried my opinions to dress those around me.

Till the age of 23 I wasn’t even aware of ‘fashion styling’ being a career option, I witnessed Maryam Raja a dear colleague styling fashion models at a shoot which I was photographing & I was blown away when I found out that people get ‘paid’ to tell other people what to wear & how to wear it.

That’s when the whole concept stuck with me & I decided to pitch myself as a ‘fashion stylist’ to Saira Rizwan for her lawn campaign with Sanam Saeed. I still remember driving around the whole city, going jeweller to jeweller, collecting accessories & putting my mood-board together. I was on top of the world & the feeling hasn’t changed with every time I am chosen for a project!

What prompted you to journey into the field of being a fashion stylist?

Back when I was completing my bachelor’s in psychology at Middlesex London, I was way too unhappy with the subject I was studying. It didn’t excite me, it didn’t intrigue me, I used to find myself lurking outside fashion exhibitions & shows, mesmerised by the world of fashion.

That’s when I started my photography blog & I started photographing street style in London. Back then I believed that photography was my passion but I was wrong, I was actually smitten by how people put together the most basic of pieces to create a look that one could never think of, it was like art to me.

It was the grit that led me to my career as a ‘fashion stylist’, I refused to give up on my passion & perseverance for a career in fashion. My refusal to settle down for a career that gave me no excitement & motivation to wake up in the morning, led me to where I am today.

Who have been some of your inspirations, mentors, or role models?

Clothes are just clothes at the end of the day, I know it’s weird of me to say that considering my career revolves around them. But I don’t think I’ve ever made someone my role model in life on the basis of how they dress.

You can be dressing yourself up in the most glamorous of outfits but if you don’t know how to dress yourself in humility, kindness & generosity, I don’t think there is anything that can save you.

Thus I’ve picked up inspiration from different people in my life – my mother & sister for one – for their hard work & resilience – from my khala (aunt) for how she balances her work life & family. From my father – who places nothing above his value system & has taught me the art of ‘giving’. From my brother – who is passionate about providing for himself & never asking anyone for anything. My husband who is one of the smartest businessmen – he inspires me to be confident with who I am & what I can do.

Tell us all about Glamgency and how do you feel being the founder of Pakistan’s first styling agency?

Back when I was getting married in 2022 – I really struggle to explain my vision for my bridal looks to those around me. Yes I was surrounded by a sea of opinions but I longed for a professional support system. Even for me, someone who dresses models up on daily basis & leads designers ‘how’ to style their fashion campaigns, I was overwhelmed with my own bridal journey.

That’s when I decided that I will open up Pakistans first styling agency & extend my services & professional knowledge to brides to be. Back then no one thought I’d be able to establish ‘bridal styling’ as a service in Pakistan but it was in a matter of months that the response I received was so brilliant! In the past 2 years we’ve styled over 50 brides from every corner of the world.

The best part about ‘Glamgency’ is that I’ve managed to ‘Pakistani Couture’ to every part of the world!

Describe your style in 3 words.

Experimental, flamboyant & modest!

Who are your style icons?

Zendaya is the undisputed queen for me!

How was your experience styling the top icons of the fashion industry for HSY’s 30 years celebration?

I am someone who performs her best under pressure – while working I make sure to push myself beyond my capacity & potential.

I am never happy or satisfied with the work I put out there – I always feel like I can do more! Thus I was constantly driving myself crazy – until a night before the show I broke down in front of Hassan & told him that I simply wasn’t happy with the work I’ve put out. That’s when he reassured me that he thought what I had put together was fabulous & that I was being too hard on myself.

I’d be lying if I told you that changed anything for me – I still grilled myself through the show day – I didn’t get a chance to breathe or process anything – all that I cared about was not letting him or myself down.

At the time of the show my team dragged me to the front of the ramp – forcing me to witness what I had put together & now I feel like had I not done that – I would’ve never felt the storm of emotions that rushed through me in those 4 minutes & 10 seconds.

To style icons – the actual people that blessed Pakistan with fashion & have left their mark in our fashion bibles is something that is truly irreplaceable!

As a celebrity stylist, what are some opportunities you have been blessed to get your hands into?

I am grateful for every single opportunity that has walked my way! Even the ones that broke me down & made me doubt my profession as a ‘fashion stylist’!

You don’t lose when you have a bad day at work & when someone makes you feel like you’re not good enough – you lose when you believe them & give up!

I am more than thankful to Allah Mian for blessing me with resilience, for letting my sensitive little heart take so much in, for making my body strong enough to take more load than I thought it was capable of!

You create opportunities for yourself, by putting yourself out there, by being through the grind, by being on a constant look out!

What challenges do you face as a stylist?

Style is something very subjective! I may love something & you may hate it! It’s not math, there is no right or wrong!

It’s extremely important for you to earn the trust of those you’re working with! If the person you’re styling doesn’t trust you a 1000% person there is no way that you can get the job done!

Also I am always surrounded by a sea of opinions while styling fashion models, the model has her own opinion, so does the makeup artist so does the designer so does the photographer! Every time I’ve surrendered to those opinions – I’ve regretted it!

What are a few tips you would like for people to remember concerning overall self-care and beauty?

You’re just as beautiful on the outside as you are from the inside! I know you might think this is cliche for me to say! But I really can’t stress on it enough!

Looking glamorous is all fun & games – please don’t prioritise this worldly aspect above the actual reason for why we are here.

Who are some of your go-to designers for styling now?

Our designers are doing a fabulous job but they still need that push to come out of the lehnga choli bubble!

Bridal fashion is the only ‘fashion’ that exists in Pakistan! We need to push beyond our boundaries more – we need to go international – we need to designing for a larger audience & bringing more attention to Pakistani Couture!

I love what HSY has done with his Resort Collection – designers need to push themselves to think more internationally!

What styling advice would you give other women?

Never be scared to experiment – never be scared to make mistakes – it’s in all the looks that go wrong that you’ll find the right!

And you don’t need brands ladies – you are the brand!

Good Times

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