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Sisters Nickie and Nina pay tribute to the inspiration in their lives

1. For this recent bridal collection, what inspired you?

Nickie: Hameeda Bano, our mother, is the inspiration for this collection and the greatest inspiration in our lives. She is a very strong woman with deeply-thought out values. I think the perspective she’s given us is that we need to be strong and yet not to forget our feminine side.

Nina: Strong women, particularly those facing hardships, have always influenced our collections. One collection was influenced by the strength of Swati women and the difficulties and pain they had to endure during the war. Our Sindhi collection was influenced by the women of Sindh and Thar and what they have to go through living life in the desert. Our Turkish collection was centered on a Turkish queen. Our collection Katcha Taanka was taken from the life of a circus woman and her hardships: how the girls and women, after performing, have to leave and give food to their families when the circus is dismantled.

We believe that a woman’s garment is best understood by a woman. This is the basic strength behind the label: a woman understands best how to dress another woman. We also believe that a woman has to wear many hats, which is to say she has to multitask. In a sense, she has no choice but to live a holistic life.

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‘Our collection Katcha Taanka was taken from the life of a circus woman and her hardships: how the girls and women, after performing, have to leave and give food to their families when the circus is dismantled’

2. What’s it like working together? How often do you fight or disagree?

Nina: The connection between us sisters is so strong because we share the same mother! She has been a pillar of support for us all our lives. The emotion that comes across in the collection is mutual. Everybody’s been telling us how good this collection is. But it’s the result of years of absorbing the wisdom imparted to us by our mother. As young kids, we used to sew and stitch and knit. Even today our mother gives us advice on what to wear. Because our father died when we were very young, she as a single mother taught us how to do the chores in the house and made us go out in the world to work.

We encourage women to work at our factory, we facilitate them and we understand their problems. When we started out, our kids were young and we had to balance work with household chores, the demands of our husbands and our in-laws. So we understand the many issues women face.

With regard to the fights, yes, of course we fight — we are human! We argue and we put our own points of view forward in very strong ways, but we are also quick to accept and understand the other’s opinion. There are no egos involved.

Next year, we are celebrating 25 years!

3. Are there any fabrics we should keep an eye out for this upcoming season?

Nina: Sheer fabrics coupled with rich textures are a trend you want to incorporate in your ensembles this season

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As young kids, we used to sew and stitch and knit. Our mother and khala were known for cutting ghararars

4. Velvet has come back in a big way this year. Any fabrics that are your personal favourites when it comes to this collection and why?

Nina: Velvet has definitely come back this season. As our A/W silhouette is mostly sleek and flowy, our favourite fabrics have to be silk net and organzas paired with rich velvet appliqués. Another fav at NN has to be the velvet & jamawar embellished shawls that we have introduced that instantly enhance and enliven any outfit.

5. Is fashion buying swaying towards prêt or bridal? Which do you think is taking over the other and why? And does this affect your design decisions?

Nickie: Not to say it’s swaying towards either, but there has been a considerable rise in the number of people who purchase prêt and luxury prêt now. It mostly has to do with the limitation of time on the part of the consumer and the availability of fashionable prêt in the market that has brought about this change.

At NickieNina, we have clearly differentiated between a bridal, couture and ready-to-wear piece and take pride in giving our consumer a look from the ramp, simply off the rack. Our design philosophy for prêt incorporates wearability, fashion and particularly to keep the ramp look in the ready-to-wear we produce, in that order.

6. Why NickieNina, what sets you apart from the others?

Nina: We’ve revived the old cuts and paired them with modern elements. Our family was known for being expert in the old style of cuts, our mother and khala were known for cutting ghararars. Our khala was married into an old Urdu speaking family from Lucknow and she knew the old cuts of the farshi gharara and the Delhi pajama and all the other ghararas. So as young children, we had seen them cut ghararas for people. We got3 training from them as young kids and later, we got our mother, our khala and our maami to come and train our tailors. In the olden days, the ghararas were worn with see-through shirts and with a small embellished blouse underneath. We’ve adapted that in our own style and made elaborate backs for these blouses.

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