“Zero is a lifestyle,” Nabila declares. The stylist is referring to the relaunch of the makeup palette she devised back in 2015, earlier known as ‘No Makeup’, now tweaked and rechristened as ‘Zero Makeup’.
Her appearance exemplifies how she herself is a believer in the ‘zero’ way of living. With an illustrious career spanning 32 years, one would expect Nabila to be indulging in expensive couture and luxury cars. Instead, she tells me that she perpetually invests in functional clothes that she can wear while traveling; comfortable but chic shoes and luggage that is compact enough for hand-carry and yet, with enough space to see her through weeks-long trips.
“I feel very passionate about my work and I travel a lot as I steer my business into new exciting directions,” she says.
On the day we meet, she is wearing characteristically minimal clothes with her hair slicked back, barely visible makeup and nails snipped to a short, no-nonsense length. She still manages to make a statement: the pants she is wearing has slightly different length trouser legs, purchased from an up-and-coming Japanese designer, and her sunglasses are funky. Real style, after all, is intrinsic and subtle – something that she wants to assert with her new palette.
“Over the past few years, I have truly enjoyed ‘No Makeup’,” she explains. “And I want more people to appreciate it and enjoy it with me. I had earlier tailored the product to suit different South Asian complexions. 'Zero Makeup', though, is launching globally and is customised for women all over the world. I have worked out the science of it, so that the five products in the box complement each other when used together.”
The revamped five-in-one compact box - containing blush, concealer, blender, lip color and face powder – is now going to be available in six different shades, running the gamut from a Caucasian 'Nicole Kidman'-like Irish white skin tone to a 'Naomi Campbell' dark.
“With this product, I also want to subliminally encourage women to be comfortable in their own skins,' says Nabila. “Most women in Pakistan, for instance, should ideally be using the darker palettes; a number ‘5’ or ‘6’. But most of them opt for a '3', which is an ivory hue or a fairer '2'," she adds.
“In the new 'Zero Makeup' ad campaign, possibly the most beautiful model is the darkest one, Zara Abid. We haven't altered the color of her complexion. Instead, we have highlighted how flawless and natural her skin looks.”
In order to make an impact with her potential international clientele, ‘Zero Makeup’ is also being advertised with a video featuring Tammin Sursok of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ as well as women of different ethnicities, using the palette and achieving an effortless, minimal look. It’s a strong pitch but how does Nabila plan to popularize her label in a market that is clustered with big players?
“We hope to eventually reach out to the large makeup retail stores but it’s going to be a step-by-step process,” she accepts.
“Right now, we are marketing Zero Makeup via social media and we are opening up our e-store thereby ensuring that we are able to cater to orders from around the world. The palette is also going to be available online via TCS and daraz.pk and I feel that both are online platforms that reach out to the world at large. Physically, it can be purchased within Pakistan from Scentsation outlets and my salons. Simultaneously, the product is going through dry runs in the US and will be launching into stores in a few months.”
It sounds like a well-conceived plan – and a refreshingly realistic plan. Far too often in Pakistani fashion, one hears designers and stylists talking of going ‘international’ which may sound impressive but, when scrutinised more closely, boils down to a one-off show or exhibit.
A single show, regardless of the local publicity and profits it generates, cannot depict a long-term business plan. And a ‘suitcase’ exhibit where a designer takes a limited capsule range and sells it at an exhibit in an international store may mean great business but it’s hardly big business.
One can’t expect Pakistan’s nascent fashion fraternity to have the budgets to launch international standalone stores but they can at least start with small steps, followed through on a regular basis, leading to eventual bigger goals.
It remains to be seen whether ‘Zero Makeup’ will make a mark internationally. Locally, though, one of the main factors that may enable Nabila to harness her market are the lower prices. The new palette, earlier available at Rs 6900, has now been priced down to Rs 4900.
“Beauty needs to be more democratic and inclusive,” she explains. “I’ve been constantly ‘listening’ to the feedback we get on social media and the most frequent concerns have been regarding pricing.”
The palette launches Sunday evening.