Dressed elegantly in an olive green shirt, black waistcoat and a pair of dark jeans, designer Noman Ansari, aka Nomi Ansari exhibits an understated style, which does seem in line with his design philosophy as he makes his way in to Koel Café for a tête-à-tête with The Express Tribune. He maintains a certain aura by not taking off his shades, but is by no means reserved. He unapologetically points out at a family sitting nearby as he sits down, calling them boring.
Nomi has been working in the fashion industry for over a decade now. His clothes are far from orthodox, but their vibrancy belies a hint of tradition. A master of colours, the designer’s work echoes the youthful charm that Nomi himself embodies and his innovation shows the amount of thought that goes into a particular piece. “I am a filmy person, but when I am in a black mood, I watch movies that are dark. For a colourful touch to my designs, I go for light-hearted movies. Anything can inspire me — from an object to the birds,” he asserts. “But before I start working on a new collection for any of my lines, I keep eight options right in front of me. I do research, roam around markets and once I get there, I give my 200 per cent to every piece that I design.”
His work mostly features an array of vivid and unique colour combinations, which is why he took everyone by surprise when he showcased an experimental black colour-based bridal collection four years ago. He shares that he recently made a black bridal outfit for a client who was planning an intense themed wedding with black roses décor. However, Nomi stresses that colours are something that he will always do.
Unlike many designers who entered the fashion industry by focusing on bridal wear, Nomi seems to have a preference for prêt. “I take fashion weeks as a creative exercise. They are an image-oriented thing for me, whereas bridal weeks are more business-like. Fashion weeks are the only platform where you can show your creativity,” he says.
Nevertheless, Nomi remains a favourite with the brides when it comes to their trousseau. So, does that mean he has never gotten into a rift with a bridezilla? Not really, according to the designer, who seems to completely understand the pressures involved in planning a wedding. “There haven’t been any nightmarish brides. It’s an important day in a girl’s life, she has this image of how she wants to look, how she will walk, the bridesmaids and the drama involved with it all. Everyone wants to look their best,” he says. However, upon insisting he shares a memorable incident: “A friend of mine was getting married. On her trial day, she wore the dress and was happy with it, but the next day, her dress got stolen. It wasn’t there. So, literally in 15 days, we made the same wedding dress for her, all over again!”
Being one of the top couturiers of Pakistan, Nomi knows his game inside out and hence, his opinion about the craft holds significant value. Unfortunately, it appears that the designer feels the same can’t be said for others: “There are people in the fashion industry who certainly don’t know the difference between drapes and patterns, between Prêt and Couture. They call a cotton collection a Prêt line. These terms are being incorrectly used. Thank goodness I went to a fashion school,” he comments.
Nomi has definitely grown by leaps and bounds. In his early days, he was even unsure about how to register his company. He recently launched a men’s line and participated in the Fashion Parade in London, showcasing a tongue-in-cheek Movember collection. Now, apart from a continuing lawn collection and planning a men’s formal line, Nomi is all set to open up two stores — one in Lahore and one in Karachi. “I am pretty much prepared for the store. I believe there should be variety for everyone. There shouldn’t be stencil-looking silhouettes hanging up there. I am a perfectionist. I want the hangers and the clothes hanging in a particular way,” he emphasises. “Also, the store should have a character of its own. It should be able to take you to another level. Every texture has a story to tell and your own living space is very important; it should generate positive vibes. When there is negativity around you, it gets to you.”
As the conversation moves towards a rather personal conclusion, he finally takes off his shades and ponders over the question of re-settling down with gleaming eyes. He is ready to look for that special someone in his life; a girl who has “mental peace of mind and positivity, who is natural to talk to and have a conversation with about anything; from travelling and movies to media and shopping.”
For a person who is only in his mid-thirties and already stands as a cut above the rest, he seems to have everything planned. “I want to retire at 55. I should have a big farmhouse by then, where I can place two ponies, an elephant, cats and dogs, and not to forget, birds! At the farmhouse, life should be lived by eating healthy, organic and real food,” he shares of his ideal retirement.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2013.