White magic

Saadia Qamar May 05, 2010

KARACHI: At Fashion Pakistan Week in April, it was proudly announced that a designer’s collection had been bought out by a buyer from Dubai.

That, as it turned out, was Shahla Rahman of Unbeatable. The news did not come as a surprise. Rahman showed a predominately white collection with accents of gold and silver lamé. It was one of the few highlights on a day designers mostly disappointed with their collections. Rahman has been working as a designer for 25 years now.

It started out, according to her “out of sheer boredom”, and also because her family depended on her to provide them with good clothes the year round. Since then she has “genuinely enjoyed making clothes”. After marrying at a young age and giving birth to twin daughters, she started teaching at a local school. Where, according to her, “out of boredom, I took 15-20 outfits to sell them, and it completely sold out.”

But she held her first solo exhibition in the late 1980s at the old Holiday Inn which was a sell-out with the exception of seven pieces. Shahla Rahman took the remaining items to a local store and told them to sell them off; by late evening they sold out and that was how it all started. Rahman believes that it is much easier now for designers. In the 1980s, she says, “Fashion was unheard of.

We were not as lucky as today’s young generation. We explored the wholesale shops, there were no fashion design schools and no designers were around to give tips to young people who could easily intern at their factory(s). Today’s crowd should be thankful for all of this.” Rahman started work with a small shop in Clifton, and moved almost a decade ago to the environs of Park Towers.

While the mall has seen a dip in traffic owing to the constant security threats and rumours, Rahman does not believe that it has been an issue. “There is a strong security system at the mall, I have never had issues with it.” At Fashion Pakistan Week, she says her work was completely sold out to buyers from the US and Dubai.

The hottest tickets? A cocktail dress and an outfit modelled by Nadia Hussain, “which had as many as 150 kalis and was 22 yards long”. While one of Shahla Rahman’s daughters has also tried her hand at designing, Rahman is expanding her set-up. She plans to open another outlet next to the Unbeatable store exclusively for brides-to-be.

The store will cater to Pakistani expats living abroad or women moving to the country after they tie the knot, and will feature ready-to-wear bridal ensembles. Rahman is also scheduled to visit Dubai this September 2010 to showcase her work at Fashion Lounge Dubai.


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