Ehtesham Ansari


Fashion stylist and image consultant, Ehtesham Ansari reveals to Mahlia Lone how he styles the stars of Coke Studio

What’s your background?

I got my first degree from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA) and my post grad from England in Design.

I started working as a stylist in 2006 with The Mag Weekly. My portfolio holds local as well as international fashion shows, editorial feature films, fashion films, music videos, red carpets, TVCs, etc. I have worked in England and in Dubai apart from Pakistan. The biggest celebrity so far that I have styled internationally is a Manchester City Football club player. Others include IPL Kolkata Players and Bollywood stars. I have worked on shows such as London Fashion Week 2007, FTV Middle East as well as editorials for various international magazines. Locally, I have done the styling for feature films, like Zinda Bhaag and Jalaibee. I have also done A-list advertisement campaigns.

Ali Sethi in YSL & Ali Hamza in Munib Nawaz & Republic
Umair Jaswal
Aima Baig Wearing Erum Kham Accessories From The Stylist’s Personal Collection

How many looks have you done for the whole show?

I started with the season 7 and just completed season 10. So far I have been responsible for consulting, developing and evaluating everyone who is involved in the season. This includes house band, lead artist guest musician and string session.

That’s a lot of different looks to come up with. How have you achieved this?

Well that’s what my job is. Haha.

Coke Studio as a show has a certain fusion look and feel to it. The tricky bit is to maintain the soul of the show. Styling and clothing should add to it rather overpower the initial idea of the show, which is music. The very first step is that I listen to every single song, which will be featured in the season, to understand the feel of the song. This helps me to develop style boards illustrating appropriate looks for each artist keeping their personality and the song in mind. Later on I discuss this with Bilal Maqsoodand share the style board with the artist and we take it from there.

Which designers have provided the outfits?

For me, the most important thing is to achieve the look. I am known for putting various brands together (just like in an editorial). It involves calling a mainstream designer to spending hours in Zainab Market. At times, the artist also approaches the fashion designer who they are comfortable with to customize their outfit or a particular article. This season you will see Munib Nawaz, Ali Xeeshan, Shamaeel Ansari, Fahad Hussayn, MNR , Mango , Splash , Gul Ahmed and Mansoor Akram to name a few

Music satisfies the soul, while clothing pleases your eyes

The stars must also have had a say in their looks. Please describe the process.

Yes, everyone has a say. Coke Studio artists are not fashionistas or trendsetters. Some have a very distinct style and some are not at all bothered with their attire. So it varies from artist to artist. It’s not rocket science. As the stylist, I communicate with them which idea of theirs works and which does not. At times nothing works….So I can also be their sounding board in this regard.

For instance, Ali Sethi was very clear about the concept behind his alternative look. It was unique and quite experimental and worked pretty well.

Another example is QB who wanted to go for effortless oomph for one of her songs. I am glad we found the right ensemble for her.

Ali Z in
Fahad Hussayn
Daniyal Z

How do the songs tie into the fashion?

Music satisfies the soul, while clothing pleases your eyes. Clothes and accessories translate music into the colour, cut and mode of the song. They also reflect the music genre and set a backdrop of the song. In my opinion, music and fashion go hand-in-hand but at times one picks alternate looks to contemporize the visual or make it more interesting. For instance, Ali Sethi’s D&G suit in a ghazal may create lot of headlines or Salman Ahmed’s distinct style define his ideology of music. On the other hand, Aima Baig will be seen in different looks, illustrating various approach of styling a song for a live performance in a show like Coke Studio.

What did you turn to for inspiration?

Anything can inspire me from an editorial look from a glossy magazine to street style. It’s just one has to find the right elements to construct the look as per individual personality.

Ali Noor in a Gul Ahmed Man kurta, and in a shawl from the stylist’s collection

“Ali Sethi was very clear about the concept behind his alternative look. It was unique and quite experimental and worked pretty well”
—Ehtesham Ansari

Zaw Ali in Shamaeel Ansari Couture jacket

Has this project been challenging and if so how?

My work is subjective. There is no right and wrong. Coke Studio is not a fashion based show neither do we try hard to make everyone look trendy. It’s about music and the artist. We make them look presentable and give them the required look by keeping it all simple. We all know simple things are bit more challenging. The most interesting and challenging bit is to come up with various looks for the same artist in the ongoing season and find a balance that maintains freshness but is still true to the artist’s personality and vision.

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