With Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW) right around the corner, we caught up with fashion week stalwart, Shehla Chatoor, who'll be showing on Day 1.
Chatoor has kept her bridal wear, the very thing that made her famous, off the runway until now. But adapting to the changing ways of the sartorial game, the designer is ready to take the plunge and make her bridal debut this weekend.
1) You're showing bridals at fashion week for the first time. What made you take the leap? What are you hoping the brand will gain from the exposure?
Shehla Chatoor (SC): I started my label 'Shehla' with a bridal and trousseau line 20 years ago. My brand is primarily associated with bridal wear but I always opted to show my luxury pret at fashion weeks.
Since the theme at FPW15 is winter/festive and in Pakistan, winter is all about wedding festivities, we chose to showcase our bridals and wedding-wear. Also, this year we celebrate the labels’ milestone 20th anniversary and therefore, we wanted to celebrate by giving a glimpse of what our brand in primarily known for, which is bridals.
2) What can you tell us about your upcoming bridal collection 'All The Raj'? How will it stand apart from other bridal collections we’ve seen this year?
SC: ll The Raj' is inspired from sub-continent royalty, the grandeur of yore and subtle style influences left by the British. This vintage revivalist collection is also a sincere ode to traditional craftsmen. This collection is timeless and regal with a contemporary twist and is for the classic and boho-edgy brides.
The opulent collection is offset with exquisite handmade in-house jewels specially created for this collection and bejewelled and ornamental clutches, batwas, even shoes.
3) What’s the one thing (ok, maybe two or three things) you hate to see on a bride?
SC: OTT (over the top) brides or brides who literally look like they are trapped in their bridals.
4) What kind of woman is a Shehla Chatoor bride?
SC: A signature 'Shehla' bride is someone who is elegant, powerful yet simple. She is someone who respects tradition with a contemporary twist, looking for old world luxury, seeking high quality craftsmanship, history and immaculate detailing. I believe bridals should have heirloom qualities to be passed down to generations.
5) You’ve become a go-to designer for young celebrities both at home and abroad. How has that helped your brand grow? Who’s your favourite celebrity to dress?
SC: My brand has always been associated with luxe and glamour. I have been honoured to dress some super talented and gorgeous women. From lead Bollywood actress Amy Jackson to our very own celebrities like Ayesha Omar, Sanam Saeed, Aminah Sheikh and many others.
I wanted our local red carpet to look alluring and this is how it all started. Any woman who is confident, strong, sophisticated is an ideal ambassador for the brand, be it a celebrity or not. I have had the opportunity and truly enjoy dressing up such women.
6) You'll be celebrating two decades in the fashion business this year. How different is the industry now from when you started out? What challenges have you faced and overcome and what are some obstacles you still have to deal with in the present?
SC: It has not been an easy path for sure, but my love for fashion, beauty and art have made these 20 years and this occupation an irreplaceable part of my life.
It has been a challenging 20 years and the fashion field in Pakistan is getting increasingly competitive. There have been many ups and downs and initially, when I started my career, I had to face a great deal of hardships to get established; there was no social media to use to promote the label and increase brand awareness.
There were no fashion weeks, so there was no platform to showcase your collection. All this has changed now. The new changes bring new challenges and it is these challenges that keep you going.
This is just the beginning; the brand I have created knows no bounds and will continue to strive and reach new heights.
I believe the initial problems that I faced still exist today and the number one problem was and still is human resources, but it is my love for fashion and all things beautiful that brought me in this field and still keeps me going
As Ratan Tata said, "Ups and downs in life are very important to keep us going, because a straight line, even in an E.C.G. means we are not alive.”