Shamaeel Ansari is a designer who tends to make an impact and she didn’t disappoint as she set the Winter Festive edition of Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW) to a brilliant start last night.

Celebrating 30 years of her designing career, Shamaeel chose to host a solo show a day before the event’s multi-designer collections took to the catwalk. But this was no typical solo outing.

Shamaeel Ansari kicked off FPW Winter/Festive with a solo show at her house
Shamaeel Ansari kicked off FPW Winter/Festive with a solo show at her house

Traversing the melting pot of ancient and modern elements that encapsulate Turkey, the designer played with craft, layering, textures and print.

There were the saw-toothed leaves and tulips particular to Iznik pottery, lattice work in golden thread characteristic of the Ottoman era, embellished seagulls soaring over the Bosporus, pomegranate motifs, Suzani motifs in intricate coloured threadwork and a palette that indelibly screamed ‘Shamaeel’: crimson, turquoise, sea-green, vermilion and salmon pink.

Most of The Blue Tulip collection was displayed on mannequins all through the ground floor of Shamaeel Ansari's residence
Most of The Blue Tulip collection was displayed on mannequins all through the ground floor of Shamaeel Ansari's residence

Making the show unique was the way the clothes were presented. Only a select 10 outfits were shown on the catwalk while the rest of the extensive collection stood tall on mannequins positioned all through Shamaeel’s ground floor.

Lit up dramatically, a long shirt worked with thick threadwork stood against a backdrop of curtains with miniature prints and a gorgeous Suzani wall-hangings. Shirts with ruffled collars rubbed shoulders with spread-eagled kaftans, grandiose coats, elaborate sleeves and prints, swirling with colour. Glass displays in the garden showcased the designer’s perpetual romance with red.

Shamaeel's latest collection features Turkish motifs
Shamaeel's latest collection features Turkish motifs

These were clothes crafted with multiple layers and patterns, veritable art pieces, and it was quite an experience to see them displayed museum-like and to observe them up-close. The less formal designs – prints and slightly more tapered silhouettes - were set aside for the catwalk.

The show and the display were classic Shamaeel – a culmination of all that her signature stands for. The designer has long been entranced with Central Asia and Sufi poetry and semblances of these inspirations have always been visible in her clothes. As she herself admits, “I don’t follow whatever is trending at the moment, I just create whatever I feel like creating.”

The palette, consisting of crimson, turquoise, sea-green, vermilion and salmon pink, screamed ‘Shamaeel’
The palette, consisting of crimson, turquoise, sea-green, vermilion and salmon pink, screamed ‘Shamaeel’

And what Shamaeel creates are clothes for fiery, individualistic women rather than designs for the blind fashion follower. It was a show that stood out – more so, for straying away from the usual fashion week format and doing things differently. One could tell that it was curated with the love and passion that has long defined the designer.

A quote she read out to me by Rumi summarized her ethos to the tee: “Let the creativity of what you love be what you do.”

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