An idea that changed your life?
I think my father’s death really changed my life. Before his passing, I was an overprotected young girl with little ambition in life. I had always imagined I would be taken care of until one fine day when my mother and I were left to fend for ourselves. I guess it was a wakeup call for me.
You a working woman with a husband and children. How do you maintain a work-life balance?
All mothers out there will agree with me when I say that nothing changes you more than having a baby. Saying that it is hard work would be an understatement. Thankfully, I am lucky enough to be able to work from home so my daughter is with me almost all the time. My husband is also very supportive of what I do.
What sparked your interest in fashion and modeling?
Even in my student days, I was always very eager to be independent financially. During college, I began my own small business wherein I made and sold T-shirts to my fellow students. Still, I had no intentions of being a part of the fashion industry per se until I did some freelance modeling for Neelofar Shahid on a whim. Everyone loved that first shoot so much than offers started flying in and voila! There has been no looking back ever since.
Who is your favourite designer and why?
Amongst Pakistani designers, my favourites include Umer Sayeed for bridal wear, HSY for his timeless and elegant cuts and Bodyfocus as well. Internationally, my favourites are Armani, Calvin Klein and of course, Elie Saab.
How has the Pakistani fashion industry changed over the past years?
In the early days, we didn’t have any proper design houses and the handful of designers who did exist barely had any technical know-how about designing. We didn’t have many catwalk shows or fashion weeks, it was mostly just print modeling. Now, the industry has grown substantially; it is much more organised and professional and there are some extremely skilled people working in it.
How did Vaneeza Lawn come about?
I think it started when I ended up doing so many lawn campaigns for brands like Gul Ahmed and Al-Karam. I was a lawn model for almost nine years and yet, I would often not find prints which suited my taste. So I thought to myself, why not follow international trends and try to incorporate them into Pakistani culture. That is how Vaneeza Lawn was developed.
How does it feel to be one of the leading names in the Pakistani fashion industry?
The industry gave me confidence and instilled a business acumen in me that I still benefit from, even though I am not modeling any longer. The respect and love I have gotten from everyone is humbling.
Any advice for aspiring female models?
When I started modeling, the fashion industry was much smaller. There were a handful of other models and little work for them to do so the competition was higher. We all worked very hard to remain on top of our game. Nowadays, I think that although there are so many more models, there is also a lot of work available for them so they tend to take their careers for granted. They are not as afraid of losing a contract as I would have been because they know that if one contract goes, two others will come their way. My advice for them would be to not take anything for granted.
Vaneeza Ahmad Ali
Supermodel / Designer
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, July 20th, 2014.
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