Pakistan’s pioneering couturier Nilofer Shahid of the design house Meeras was awarded with Le Grade De Chevalier Dan L’ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres on May 27, 2014 by the French government at the Governor House in Lahore. HE Mr Philippe Thiebaud, the French ambassador to Pakistan conferred the award upon the designer for her contributions to the development of art, culture and fashion design. Shahid is the first Pakistani fashion designer on whom this honour has been bestowed.
For the past 35 years, Shahid has been working relentlessly in fashion and has undoubtedly revolutionised the classic vision of Haute Couture garments and accessories. “Nilofer Shahid has worked tirelessly at bridging the gap between Pakistan and the western world through fashion,” says Philippe Thiébaud at the ceremony, “she has played a major role in bringing Pakistan forward and exposing a different side of the country through fashion design.”
The collection in particular that caught the French government’s eye was the conversation between Empress Josephine Bon Parte and Empress Nur Jehan. Shahid’s collections have revolved around the culture and heritage of Pakistan, her ancestry dates her bloodline from Afghanistan to Turkey. While the designer has not showcased anything new and does not take part in local fashion weeks, her contributions to promoting Pakistan’s culture and heritage cannot be overlooked.
The event included a documentary by Maram and Aabroo titled, ‘Nilofer Shahid’s journey in Paris’ that showed her journey and experiences in the fashion world of Paris. Nilofer Shahid’s French chapter began in 1996 at the Grand Premier Ball, followed immediately by the Paris Haute Couture Week sponsored by Boucheron in 1997. Furthermore the designer had the greatest honour of exhibiting alongside Balenciage in 2006 at the Paris Couture Week. She has been the only Pakistani designer to be invited by Le Chambre de Syndicale de la couture to show her collection at the Salon Boucheron, Place Vendome during Paris Haute Couture Week in 2007.
Even though the designer no longer shows her collections, one cannot deny that she has changed the way we Pakistani’s look, not only at fashion but also our culture and heritage.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2014.
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