LAHORE: Nilofer Shahid’s collections almost always revolve around Pakistani culture. While the couturier has not showcased anything new since last year’s Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW), her contributions to promoting local fashion cannot be overlooked.
As an ambassador of great design, she has shown in Paris, New York, Turkey and most recently in Mauritius. In fact, Shahid was the only Pakistani designer to showcase at the Pakistan-Mauritius Friendship Week held from October 20 to October 25.
“I only got two weeks’ notice for the show so I picked up pieces from different collections and put them together,” Shahid told The Express Tribune. “This collection mainly comprised of the pieces I had made for a show in Turkey, which was a sartorial depiction of a conversation between Rumi & Allama Iqbal.”
Explaining the five segments of her showcase, Shahid said, “The first was red and depicted the world in chaos and confusion, which creates darkness. This led to a segment that was purely black, which is what chaos eventually leads to.”
The third was inspired by self realisation and a journey of sorts, which was depicted with earthy tones. The fourth part was all white, where the soul has been cleansed and goes on to a higher level of spirituality. This was a little-more bridal than the previous three segments, with the fifth one being Shahid’s piece de resistance, titled Tree of Life. This collection was in blue, denoting spirituality.
“The final outfit was to be presented in New York at the World Fashion Week but that was not possible due to security reasons. So, it was presented in Turkey in 2012 instead,” shared the designer. “The dress is a message of peace, love and connectivity. The word ‘peace’ is written on it in different languages, along with flora and fauna from all over the world. On one side of the dress, there is darkness and the other is a painting where one is enlightened,” she added.
In the past, Shahid has created collections inspired by the likes of Omer Khayyam, Khalil Jibran and Noor Jehan. “I have always tried to stay true to our roots, except for the Rembrandt collection which was inspired by the great Dutch artist,” she said. Shahid also added that she has her own pace of working and doesn’t aim for fashion weeks. “It’s great that younger designers have the energy to be churning out material but that doesn’t work for me,” she said.
While in Mauritius, Shahid spoke about synergies in fashion, swapping student and designer faculties and the ongoing exchange of fashion between the two countries. “My mission from when I first showed abroad in 1995 was to send a message across to the world about who Pakistanis are and their culture and heritage. I used to get frustrated with people’s image of our country because when they saw our work, they’d say it is very Arab or Indian but never just Pakistani,” Shahid confessed.
The Mauritius collection was much lighter ready-to-wear, as compared to her usual ensembles but this is what she will be focusing on henceforth. The designer has recently released a chiffon collection and also lawn, earlier in the year. “I’ll launch that in a proper manner,” she said. Her jewelry has also gained considerable popularity and Shahid plans to launch it alongside the upcoming demi couture collection. At a time when design is so often generic, Shahid does fashion like it should be: unique, thought- provoking and with reverence to heritage.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2016.