It’s always exciting to discover new designers with a unique signature. What’s more unusual is when these talented newbies have a range that is as wearable as it is distinctive. The duo Saira Shakira has been creating a buzz in Lahore society ever since they launched two years ago. Their sophisticated luxury prêt was an instant hit, incorporating subtle embellishments and unusual cuts.
Saira Faisal and Shakira Usman both graduated with distinction from the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design. When they started their label two years ago, it was because no one was designing the sort of clothes that they, themselves, wanted to wear. Their label Saira Shakira soon became a word-of-mouth phenomenon in Lahore.
Their label is known for slimming silhouettes and elegant detailing. They create texture in their ensembles by juxtaposing different fabrics and by using built-up embroideries. They are known for their use of cutwork, lace and unusual cuts.
At the time of their launch, they were among a very small number of designers championing shorter hemlines. Their dropped waist and dropped hipline cuts give a very lean silhouette. They combine pretty embroideries and a little bling on elegant outfits that are incredibly versatile. Their prêt is perfect for dinners and GTs but can also be dressed up for weddings and formal events.
Saira and Shakira were in the same year studying fashion at PIFD. Their husbands are close friends and encouraged them to launch a label together. Ever since then, they have never looked back. “We’re lucky in that we have similar design sensibilities. Our strengths complement each other and we can creatively bounce ideas off each other. Since we have had the same formal training in fashion design, it is easy to work together on design elements,” Shakira explains.
Their label initially offered only luxury prêt and their first few collections focused heavily on pastels. Embroidery and subtle bling gave a formal feel to fusion cuts while their exquisite detailing had customers beating path to their door. Their latest work focuses on brighter colours, particularly for formals, but incorporates the elegant cuts and pretty detailing that is Saira Shakira’s signature.
“We design for modern women who want a chic, contemporary look”, says Saira Faisal. "These are the clothes that we ourselves love to wear."
While Saira and Shakira describe their cuts as a fusion of the East with West, the outfits have a modern Eastern sensibility. This contemporary twist on Eastern wear is part of the appeal of the label. Flared, voluminous sleeves and sheath cuts are paired with cutwork and thread embroideries in a look that is modern without being jarring. These are outfits that work as well at a family lunch as they do at a swish GT.
Over the past year, Saira Shakira have expanded their line to include formals as well as luxury prêt and have begun stocking their prêt range at the PFDC in Lahore. Their prêt collection falls within a price range of Rs15,000 and Rs40,000. Their formals are for Rs55,000 and onwards and are available by appointment at their Model Town studio.
The designer duo is now working on a new collection that they hope may get selected for the PFDC Fashion Week in April. If they are selected, fashion week will be a major challenge. While the jump from designing for society ladies and designing for the ramp is a huge one, Saira and Shakira have the formal training to make the transition with style. Whilst fashion week would undoubtedly be a massive learning curve for this relatively new but talented duo, it would be interesting to see what they come up with.
Meanwhile, they are considering options for stocking in Karachi. Until then, checking out their studio or their rack at PFDC is a must if you are visiting Lahore.
Oxford-grad Salima Feerasta is a social commentator and lover of style in any form or fashion. She blogs at karachista.com and tweets @karachista
Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2014.
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