Pakistani designer Monica Paracha began her own label in 2003 and since then has become an internationally recognised designer.
Paracha has exhibited her designs in America, England, Bahrain, India and this year in June was one of 14 international designers to take part in a show in Paris, France.
She talks to The Express Tribune about her road to international acclaim and how she has incorporated the Pakistani culture into her designs.
How long have you been designing and how did you get involved in the area?
I have always designed my own clothes, including my wedding dress. Formally, I studied fashion merchandising and fashion designing through an external programme in the United States.
You’ve taken part in many international shows, how does it feel representing Pakistan globally?
This is a positive by-product since I have never been sponsored by the government. However, I feel very passionately about my country and am proud to represent it. With only negative news about Pakistan abroad, people are surprised to see this softer side.
I make it a point to bring out the cultural richness of my country and educate people on who Pakistanis really are. It is not too difficult a task; I am surprised that we don’t do this more.
How do you find inspiration for the different designs you do?
I like to research and find inspiration from different cultures and arts from various time periods. While travelling I absorb what I see, this brings freshness and innovation to my collections.
You make handbags, clothes and now shoes, is there anything you are looking into as well?
All these things keep me busy enough! However, I am experimenting with fashion jewellery as well.
Are your designs kept at any particular shops in Pakistan?
Yes, they are at the newly opened Fashion Pakistan Lounge in Lahore, at Labels in Karachi, and soon they will be kept at Labels in Lahore soon as well.
What materials do you use for your designs?
I love silk chiffon, but I also use cottons, velvets, satins, etc. I also like using antique embroidered materials and I make use of Swarovski crystals.
Your designs are quite pricey, who is your target market? Is it more profitable for you to cater to international markets?
Initially I was only doing Haute-couture, so pricing was not an issue. However, since the launch of my Pret line I am trying to balance quality and price as the market in Pakistan is quite competitive.
It is relatively profitable to cater to the international market but one still has to stay competitive and extremely quality conscious.
Are you going to exhibit your designs at Fashion week or another show in the country?
I am not sure. Shows in Pakistan charge the same amount which I end up spending for international shows as my line usually gets sponsored by the organisers and I do not have to deal with politics in international shows!
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2010.