By Good Times
Summer means time to amp up the volume in our wardrobes with bold prints and strong colour palettes. Who better to turn to for this than our very own 9Lines. This fortnight, Mehek Raza Rizvi speaks to the creative forces behind this brand known for its quirk, Hassan Iqbal Rizvi and Saad Shahid. Learn about their personal style preferences and then get a preview of their menswear collection in our pages
What impact do you believe the COVID-19 pandemic has had, if any, on menâ€™s fashion trends?Â
Hassan Iqbal Rizvi:Â The pandemic has made me feel comfortable in stepping out with whatever I feel comfortable in and I believe itâ€™s the same for others. It seems that people have now warmed up to the idea of oneâ€™s own ease coming first in fashion.
Saad Shahid:Â As Hassan stated, people are more inclined towards whatâ€™s easier for them, but with that being said, they have also gotten creative with their looks. Staying in during isolation has certainly given everyone an excessive amount of time to brew up new looks, experiment with styles and portray themselves like never before.
What would your advice be to someone wanting to venture into slightly daring territory in terms of their wardrobe?
Hassan:Â Personally speaking, I always vouch for exotic prints and patterns: prints from the wild, summer foliage or floral blooms. I feel that they speak for you before you even enter the room. Experiment with anything which makes youÂ think twice before wearing it.
Saad:Â The more you think about peopleâ€™s reaction to what youâ€™re wearing, the more you drift away from being confident with you unique looks.
What are some essential wardrobe staples for this summer?
Hassan:Â Resort shirts with eccentricÂ printsâ€”always!
Saad:Â A t-shirt with a good graphicÂ or statementÂ on it and youâ€™re good to go.
Since most of us are still working from home, how does one stay comfortable yet well put-together?
Hassan:Â Itâ€™s always the effort that counts. All you have to do is put the same amount of effort into your looks, as you wouldâ€™ve had you been going in to the office. Itâ€™s that simple and it works.
Saad:Â WFH has an important part to play, as we learn to become more efficient, more responsible and become aware of the idea that being in your comfort-zone while handing official hours really works well if you enjoy what you do!
How different is your personal style from each other and how does that reflect in the clothes you design?Â
Hassan:Â My personal style is always loud and communicative. So itâ€™s always a teams effort. Blending in both our aesthetics works for us in terms of making something that isnâ€™t already there in the market, because itâ€™s unique.
Saad:Â I believe I fall in the line of always following the lead of contemporary fashion with a sprinkle of that one quirky element that sets the mood for the whole look. So yes, mixing our styles together does the trick for us.
Whatâ€™s a style rule you never break?Â
Hassan:Â In my caseÂ style rulesÂ are meant to beÂ broken. Iâ€™m never one to shy away from trying new things, even if most of people donâ€™t agree with them.
Saad:Â Wearing sunglasses inside. I mean, the whole point of wearing sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the sun, right?Â
Whatâ€™s been the best fashion advice youâ€™ve received?
Hassan:Â The best style advice Iâ€™ve ever received is probably from my parents at a pretty young age, but they had no idea at the time how it would directly or indirectly affect me. It was more of an all-encompassing â€˜be yourself, no matter whatâ€™ perspective. I applied that confident individuality to every aspect of my life: how I think, what I say and do, and of course, how I dress. I wear whatever I wear. I donâ€™t let trends or seasons get in the way. I never have. Most days I like wearing t-shirts, jeans, and flat-bill snapbacks, and I like colorsâ€”lots and lots ofÂ colors.Â Itâ€™s all about creating an image that uniquely embraces your own personality. And it never hurts to have some fun too.
Saad:Â Whatever you wear, just wear that with confidence.Â I follow this tipÂ no matter ifÂ itâ€™sÂ jeans or a formalÂ suit. If you feel good then youâ€™ll be more confident and be better able to take on whatever life throws at you.
Is there anyone in particular whose style youâ€™re inspired by?Â
Hassan:Â David Beckham. His unique sense of style in both formal and street wear always puts forth inspiration to never be afraid to mix it up.
Saad:Â Itâ€™s a mix between Jinnah, RichardÂ BiedulÂ and Cody Fern.
Tell us more about your new collection.Â
Hassan:Â As always, the Menâ€™s Collection this time around focuses a lot on pattern and print detailing. Ranging from differentÂ colors and wild prints from rich florals, contemporary stripes and lush foliage, this collection provides our customers with a wide variety to choose from.
Saad:Â Our Menâ€™s Collection is one of our favourites, as we decided to play with different prints. Like always this time yet again we werenâ€™t afraid to bring in that wild element that always makes a mark in your wardrobe.
What can we expect from 9Lines menswear in the future?
Hassan:Â A brand staying close to its ethos, our signature menswear will always be bold, out of the box, and only for those who arenâ€™t afraid to experiment with their looks.
Saad:Â 9Lines will always promote the idea of being free and limitless when it comesÂ to updatedÂ and playful fashion. All our collections, including menswear will always be wild and popping with that quirky goodness.
Photography: Asad Bin Javed
Grooming: Turab Haider
Models: Zarrar Khan, Suleman Hussain & Qamar Khwaja
Art Direction, Concept & Styling: 9solutions
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Talk us through your mood board for the wedding.
Iâ€™ve always enjoyed looking at pictures of weddings from our grandparentsâ€™ time; the intimacy and festivity infused in them informed my mood board. The small weddings in drawing rooms, in personal gardens, with close loved ones all aroundâ€”thatâ€™s what I wanted. And colour; lots and lots of colour.
Considering that youâ€™ve been part of some memorable bridal campaigns, how did you ensure that your own wedding looks stood out?
Iâ€™ve worked with brands that have a strong aesthetic and thatâ€™s helped me define my own. Having this understanding of my style, of what looks good on me and what I can pull off really allowed me to comfortably go for what I wanted, knowing full well that that confidence would alone be enought to make me stand out. I even went for my fittings on my own, as I wanted it to just be a one-on-one conversation with the designers, and I guess they appreciated that as well. They all knew that I like to experiment with cuts and silhouettes and that I can pull off unconventional looks. With all this in mind, I wasnâ€™t worried about my bridal looks not standing out.
Weddings are stressful for most brides. Was it the same for you? How did you cope with it all?
Being a very chilled out person in general helped me a lot. I made sure everything was organised and delegated to the right people. Once all the orders had been placed and tasks appointed, I didnâ€™t need to worry. The designers knew me, so that end was sorted. Similarly, I went for Carbon Events by Sara Chapra for the dÃ©cor, as she knew my style. She suggested â€˜Walking on Sunshineâ€™ as my theme and I fell in love with it instantly. To reduce stress, my advice is to know yourself and to know who understands you the best. Once you delegate tasks to them, the stress dissipates.
What were your rituals before the wedding? Did you change up your skincare regimen, for example?
To be honest, Iâ€™m not very into rituals. I tried the whole ubtan thing, but I felt too uncomfortable. In terms of skincare, I didnâ€™t change anything at all and didnâ€™t go for any treatments.
I believe to look pretty all you need to be is confidentâ€”a lesson learnt through my modelling campaigns. I donâ€™t recommend anyone to change their skincare routines or get treatments right before the big day. Itâ€™s best to incorporate new products a few months in advance. Even for my bridal looks, I went for skincare and makeup products that I knew worked on me. In fact, I didnâ€™t even go for a facial; I went for it afterwards to detox my skin from all the products during the wedding days.
Your reception look as a modern bride was refreshing. What was the thought process behind it?
Iâ€™m glad you think so. Iâ€™m a modern girl at heart, so it was a no-brainer. Donâ€™t get me wrong, I love traditions, but theyâ€™re not for me. I knew I was never going to be a bride with a dupatta on her head, at least not for my main day. I believe a lot of the traditions are there for other people and they were incorporated in some of the other events of my wedding. But, the main bridal look was going to be quintessentially me. Faraz Manan understood that and thatâ€™s why he started off with the emerald colour actually. The initial outfit he showed me wasnâ€™t too far off from the final look. Anyone who knows me knows that Iâ€™d always wanted to be a Faraz Manan bride. However, it was important that it be a comfortable look, with no fuss on embroidery or heavy detailing. A backless outfit with minimal embellishments on the pants was perfectâ€”for the wedding lunch and the party afterwards.
We fell in love with your bridal shoot. How did you come to the decision of choosing Fatima Tariq for your portraits?
Fatimaâ€™s work is gorgeous and Iâ€™ve been obsessed with it. However, the portraits were a gift from my cousin Farishteh; once she told me about that, I knew I had to get Fatima to cover the rest of the event as well. The way she creates moods and captures moments is truly magical. Both my husband and I are ecstatic at how the shots turned out.
They always call it the brideâ€™s big day. But, did Hasaan have specific wishes for the events or did he leave it all up to you? How did you balance what you both wanted?
As I said, Iâ€™m a chill person and donâ€™t generally freak out, especially when I know everythingâ€™s been sorted. Hasaan, on the other hand, is a lawyer who works all day; he wasnâ€™t able to see a lot of the backend work and got a bit antsy towards the end. But he was also very trusting of me and that helped a lot. His main thing was that he wanted his friends to have fun, but he was also concerned about Covid. So, I decided to stagger the guest list at my wedding lunch; the elders came for lunch and once they left, we had a black-tie sundowner. I wanted to throw him the best party of his life. It was intimate, it was manageable and it was a lot of fun.
Both of you look adorable together. Tell us more about you two. Whatâ€™s the story?
Hasaan and I go way back. Although we were in different schools, we both knew of each other through our friends. However, when we got back from college and saw each other again, it was love at first sight. Heâ€™s always been the person I kept going back to and couldnâ€™t get him out of my head. Heâ€™s the funniest person in the room, heâ€™s humble, heâ€™s kind, he doesnâ€™t gossip, heâ€™s not uptightâ€”I automatically gravitated towards him and the positive aura that surrounds him. When his family found out I was single, they sent me a proposal and now weâ€™re excited to spend the rest of our lives together.
Were there any big day mishaps that you can share with us?
No mishaps at all! One funny incident, though, was how my youngest brotherâ€™s Gen-Z friends took over from DJ Shakir at the sundowner and played their rave music. We are still laughing at the image of a bunch of teens in sunglasses on the dance floor. But ultimately, it was endearing.
You decided not to have a mehndi. Any particular reason for that, or is that something that youâ€™re personally not interested in?
Iâ€™m not a mehndi person at all. Even in non-Covid circumstances, I wouldnâ€™t have had one. I run away from dance practices and I didnâ€™t want to put my friends, who all work, through that. At the end of the day, it was about having a good time and thatâ€™s what we had.
What was your experience as a bride during Covid-19? Would you have done your wedding differently if there was no pandemic?
Quite fun actually. I enjoyed the intimacy of it and, as I said, wouldâ€™ve done it that way regardless. The smaller affair allowed Hasaan and I to hang out individually with all our friends and loved ones, without the pomp and circumstance of a bigger, traditional event. At all the events leading up to the wedding, we had everyone whom we love present and were able to interact with them. Itâ€™s also quite affordable, so I do recommend everyone look into smaller weddings, even after Covid.
Any tips for other brides whoâ€™re preparing for their big day during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis?
Divide your guest list. Thatâ€™s what we did at most of our events. The elders would come for lunch or dinner, enjoy some music and leave. Then our friends would join us. We didnâ€™t want too many people in closed spaces and this really helped with that. Strategic guest list making should be your biggest priority if youâ€™re planning on getting married during this time.
What wouldâ€™ve been your ideal destination wedding, if you couldâ€™ve had it anywhere in the world?
Oh thatâ€™s easy! Hunza or Skardu if in Pakistan (Iâ€™m in love with our northern areas) and Lake Lugano in Italy if anywhere abroad. The Lake Lugano and Como region is my favourite place in the world; I went to college there and a wedding event in that area wouldâ€™ve been the stuff of dreams.
Now that the wedding is over, what are your plans for the honeymoon?
Weâ€™re going on a safari trip to southern Africa. Iâ€™m looking forward to visiting Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya and Zimbabwe. The wide open spaces and the wildlife are going to be amazing. But, both Hasaan and I are city people as well and enjoy good nightlife. So, weâ€™ll be sure to spend some time in Cape Town as well and explore a bit more of South Africa.
How do you even begin to write about a year that was unlike any other? A year that challenged notions of time and tore through the veneer of constructed reality; a year that confronted us with our place in the world. How do you fully encapsulate in words all the fear, the panic, the crippling anxiety, the mistrust, the personal awakenings and the heartaches? How do you collect fragments of shattered dreams and dashed plans, and give meaning to them again? In fact, how do you even start to examine a year that, in many ways, wasn’t really there even.
Tracing the year back to its roots is a place as good as any, I guess. My own isolation began exactly a year ago, a full week before everyone else was forced to withdraw into themselves. It’s almost surreal to think that this week last year we were optimistic that flattening the curve was achievable in a short amount of time. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I imagined us to be going down a rabbit hole. Have we emerged from it? Or are we still trudging along? I do, at times, feel that we’re stuck in a loop. When we hunkered down last year, Pakistan was lodged in a fierce debate over Aurat March in Pakistan. A year later, we’re still there. Did we even learn anything?
I find myself in an odd stasis though. I didn’t buy a 2021 planner; it seemed that I’d be inviting the ire of the Fates by doing so. Funnily enough, this year has reached the date when my 2020 planner stopped being useful. There are pages upon empty pages, waiting to be filled in, with only a handful of appointments sprinkled here and there-most of them Zoom calls. I pick it up and continue to scribble in it, it seems frivolous to throw it away. But somehow, it seems as if I’m reliving the year that wasn’t, injecting life into it posthumously. Do I think that filling in the pages of my 2020 planner will somehow create memories that ought to be there? Possibly.
It would be unfair, though, to completely disregard last year. Perhaps where we can begin when we talk about an impossible year is the new vocabulary we imbibed. ‘Unprecedented’, ‘flatten the curve’, ‘the new normal’, ‘work from home’, ‘Zoom calls’, ‘distance learning’ and many more immediately became commonplace. Or we can recap it in the number of Zoom calls we had to attend, the banana breads we baked, the dalgona coffees we made, the flowers we planted, the books we bought and thought we’d read, the memes we laughed at, the books we actually read, the calls we made or the podcasts we queued up (and didn’t listen to).
Maybe it would be more accurate to record the year in the numbers of tears we shed, the hair we pulled out, the hugs we missed, the masks we bought, the bottles of sanitiser we drained, the friendships we let fade away or, sadly, the people we lost.
There are many ways to record the past, but in a break from my personal tradition of nihilism, I choose ‘hope’ as the one thing that defined this lost year. Hope sprung up unexpectedly in unlikely placesâ€”like the flowers in my garden that I thought would never bloom again. These pockets of hope are the ones that I keep going back to. Those blissful moments that pierced through the darkness, like sunbeams through drawn curtains. The ambient sunbeams that even illuminate the motes of dust floating, suspended mid-air, like time itself.
Whether it was a cool breeze on a summer day, while I was sprawled on the grass in my garden, or videos of the kindness of strangersâ€”hope was there. Or in the night sky full of stars that I hadn’t viewed in ages. It was also in the clean air we finally got to breathe in Lahore, signalling to us that the change we desire is within our reach.
Hope was in the gut-wrenching concert of Andrea Bocelli in front of the Duomo di Milano, as all of Italy wept and we wept with them. Hope was in the brave protestors across the world who declared ‘Enough is enough!’ and took to the streets to reclaim the dignity that was denied to them.
Hope was in the live sessions on Instagram that were determined to keep the arts alive; hope was in the laughter of babies born in the oddest year of them all; hope was in video calls with friends across time zones; hope was in the small gestures of love witnessed over Zoom weddings, when the mere visual of human touch was beauty itself. Hope was in every drop of watercolour that spilt from my paintbrush; it was in every travel plan made and every new item added to the bucket list. It was also in the rekindling of old friendships and the forging of new ones and ironically.
Hope is the vaccine that promises that we can go back to the ‘before times’. But will we really? Is it even possible to go back to how things used to be? Unlikely. The scars from this year will remain with us for quite some time, prompting us to do better. They’ll urge us to change the way we interact with the world, with nature, with each other. They’ll continue to haunt us and insist that we learn from our mistakes. Over time they’ll fade, as all scars do, leaving this time but a bump on our journey. And that’s when our true reckoning of this year will begin.
Photo Courtesy: Author
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