With a degree in miniature painting attributing to remarkable attention to detail, sleek silhouettes and a decade of experience, Zara Shahjahan has definitely made her mark on the local fashion scene.
In recent years Zara Shahjahan's eponymous design house has seen an exponential boom in interest -- in response to which the Lahore-based designer recently opened up a flagship store in Karachi. The boutique, located on Karachi's Khayaban-e-Shujaat, stocks her casual line, COCO, as well as luxury pret.
Here, the designer reflects on her latest venture:
How has your style evolved over the years?
Zara Shahjahan (ZS): The Zara Shahjahan label is known for its soft, feminine aesthetic and particularly for florals. I have mostly stuck to what I do best, along with pushing my creative boundaries by experimenting with fabrics, taking design inspiration from culture and art in terms of print development. However, my brand will always have a vintage, soft and feminine feel to it. My last collection, 'A Folk Tale' was a walk away from florals, where I played with ethnic prints and embroideries but that too, as a collection, was extremely feminine.
|Amna Babar models the 'City of Gardens' collection. — Photo courtesy: Zara Shahjahan's Instagram|
Who/what do you draw inspiration from?
ZS: Inspiration is in everything. Art, culture, heritage, nature; it is all about creating an interesting amalgamation of various facets of what is around oneself.
|— Photo courtesy: Zara Shahjahan's Instagram|
What kind of audience do you have in mind when you're designing your clothes?
ZS: Our branding strategy caters to specific segments. From young girls, to the average Pakistani woman wanting everyday designer apparel to formals and bridals, our brand has specific lines catering to each segment and price point, fulfilling the design needs of each. For us, it is about making clothes for women who want dainty aesthetics, quality fabric and embellishment.
What's a typical day like for you?
ZS: A typical day starts with me dropping my daughter to school and going to my design studio. I am usually multitasking from designing to managing, from selecting fabrics to answering PR queries. It is crazy and it is fulfilling.
Describe the Zara Shahjahan label in a few words. What makes it unique?
ZS: Zara Shahjahan is a name synonymous to grace and elegance. Bringing intricately developed designer apparel to women seeking ladylike aesthetics, a keen eye on embellishment and above all quality, Zara Shahjahan has managed to establish itself as a lifestyle brand over a span of 10 years.
What do you think are the current/future trends in fashion, as well as the it colour for the season?
ZS: This season, colours are inspired by nature. The palette is extremely fresh and bright, with hues of pale pastels. Silhouettes are simple and straight; it is about symmetry in cuts.
What's the reception been like so far from your store in Karachi?
ZS: The response is great. Not just in terms of sales but we are also receiving positive feedback about the product. Our COCO by Zara Shahjahan line is doing particularly well as it caters to the everyday apparel needs of the modern Pakistani woman.
|— Photo courtesy: Zara Shahjahan|
|— Photo courtesy: Zara Shahjahan|
What are some of your personal favourite pieces from the collection(s) you have in store in Karachi?
ZS: I personally love the ocean blue midi skirt in silk at the Karachi store.
If you could dress any one person - living or dead - who would it be and why?
ZS: Grace Kelly. She was a symbol of elegance and that's what the label represents too.
What's next in the pipeline for Zara Shahjahan?
ZS: Having taken a leap forward in terms of retail expansion locally as well as our up-coming E-Store that will make our product available across borders also, our brand will focus on creating depth in our product lines this year. Re-introducing our basics line in COCO is something we are working on, as well as investing in our Zara Shahjahan accessories range.