Ali Xeeshan takes Aimen Khan into his eclectic and vibrant studio
Tell us about the inspiration behind the dÃ©cor in your studio.
Fashion is getting too commercial these days. Thereâ€™s no art value or creativity left. My studio is not a commercial space. When you enter my studio, you are taken on a ride. Itâ€™s an interesting experience that Iâ€™ve always wanted for my clients and visitors. Itâ€™s like a home studio, where girls can come in and feel comfortable discussing their bridals. Iâ€™ve always wanted my space to be colorful and have character. I didnâ€™t want it to be like other nondescript commercial spaces that feel like grocery shops or hospitals. Iâ€™ve collected momentos from all over the world, each one with its own memory and story. My studio talks to you. Itâ€™s welcoming that way.
What significance does your studio hold for you and how does it influence your work?
No matter where I travel in the world, I have to come back to my studio because thatâ€™s the only spot where I can generate ideas. Itâ€™s my comfort zone. It has everything I need. I have different mood lighting, depending on what Iâ€™m designing for (runway, brides. etc) so I can see the same product under different lights. Itâ€™s very comfortable for me, like my own room, where I can be myself. I donâ€™t feel uncomfortable in any spot in it.
Don’t become a Part of the fashion or media industries because you want to be famous. Stop thinking about what you’ll wear to the red carpet. Do your job first
Whatâ€™s the favourite part of your studio, what holds the most significance for you?
My favourite place in my studio is definitely my little forest garden with a huge window overlooking it. On some days, I put my table outside and start operating from there, especially in the winter. Iâ€™m friends with all the birds. They come every day.
Tell us about the birds. It shows in your work and your studio that they hold a lot of importance for you.Â
I have always thought that theyâ€™re little angels. I think they just come and keep an eye on what weâ€™re doing. I think birds are the most beautiful forms nature has taken.
Do you approach your work with a specific process?
With me, itâ€™s mostly a mental process and then execution. I like to take my time and evolve the ideas in my mind first. When Iâ€™m working on a collection, like I am doing right now for PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week in March, I first think of a name. The name sets the mood for the collection, which then helps me set the colour palette. We take a lot of time with the colours because I feel like they can make or break the collection. From the colours, I decide what themes or trends Iâ€™m going to be following. I then put it all on paper. I have a great design team that helps me execute because I canâ€™t be there every second.
Once everything comes out of production we put different things together and see how they look. I usually work on the collection till the very last moment. Sometimes a model is about to step on the runway and I stop her and say leave this, or take that. Itâ€™s a continuous process.
For me, the mood is very important. I like to keep the mood in every piece that I design. There has to be a story. The clothes should speak to you.
I was too loud for some people. They wanted me to calm down but you only get to live life once. Why should I stop on account of other people? Why should I shine less? I can’t be sorry for being fabulous
Do you ever face any creative blocks? If yes, what do you do to get out of them?
Of course! I usually just leave the country or city and go away for a while to clear my mind. Itâ€™s always a good idea to step away from the situation for an aerial view so you can easily figure out what can be done better. When I was in fashion school, they always told us to a take a break for a while and when you come back, youâ€™ll easily be able to point out your mistake. So thatâ€™s what I do.
Do you have trouble working outside of your space?
Usually, yes. But sometimes when Iâ€™m travelling or Iâ€™m in a plane or sitting in a restaurant and I get an idea, I just grab my phone, a piece of paper, or even a napkin and draw it on there.
Youâ€™re an exceptional painter. Do you see yourself branching into that industry in the future?
I honestly think that art is a pure blessing and gift from your maker. I might get into that but part of me is always reluctant, because I feel like there shouldnâ€™t be a price to art. It feels like giving your baby away. That part of me is stopping me from branching out commercially. I havenâ€™t given much thought to it from a business perspective. Lots of friends and people want to buy my art. I think art is above and beyond that. But who doesnâ€™t mind some extra cash? Ha-ha!
Where do you feel most inspired or creative in the world?
Europe. Probably a train ride from Paris to Amsterdam or Rome, any place that has history and rich culture. Since I grew up in Lahore, I take a lot of inspiration from here, Old Lahore too. It has British Raj history, Mughal influence and also contemporary art. Itâ€™s festive and has so much energy. Any place that has character. Iâ€™ve never felt inspired in Dubai or Manhattan.
What is your favourite project that you have worked on in the past?
My favourite has yet to come but all my shows, especially shows that I do for PFDC are my favourite because I feel like my brand grew up with PFDC. Their first show was my debut show. Whenever Iâ€™m showcasing at PFDC, it has a different feeling altogether. People might think Iâ€™m too out there on the runway, but thatâ€™s my moment. I work really hard for that moment, so let me enjoy it! I actually never thought Iâ€™d dance on the runway but it automatically comes out. I want to dance. We work really hard! You canâ€™t take that away from us. Whenever I come out on the runway to take a bow, thatâ€™s my moment.
What are you currently working on?
Iâ€™m branching into lawn with Wardha and also working on pret stores. Iâ€™m really excited and nervous about that.
Have you hit any barriers in your career that have led you to where you are now?
There were lots of barriers. Itâ€™s a cut-throat industry, youâ€™re not easily welcomed but Iâ€™ve been lucky that way. People, who were fashionably evolved and open to ideas, could see where I was coming from. Of course there were hardships and barriers. I was too loud for some people. They wanted me to calm down but you only get to live life once. Why should I stop on account of other people? Why should I shine less? I canâ€™t be sorry for being fabulous.
Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for upcoming artists?
I would just say be true to yourself. Look within you. Stop finding your future over the Internet or in someone else. Everyone has something special. I know itâ€™s a clichÃ© but its true. Donâ€™t become a part of the fashion or media industries because you want to be famous. Stop thinking about what youâ€™ll wear to the red carpet. Do your job first. Work on your strength. If you have it, please bring it on. If you donâ€™t, then donâ€™t cheat. The market is already very saturated. Donâ€™t be a mediocre designer when you can be a top of the line engineer or doctor. Donâ€™t settle for less.