Spanning over three successful decades, Shamaeel Ansari’s voyage in the Pakistani fashion industry can be best described as a ground-breaking era in itself. Fittingly known by the moniker, the Czarina of style, Shamaeel is among a handful of pioneering designers who changed the face of Asian fashion designing. To the millennials who weren’t lucky enough to witness her journey so far, here’s a sneak review of her fashion expedition…
Shamaeel made history in the early 90s when she introduced concepts which were alien to local fashion scene. The designer not only aced the artistry of apparels but also knew how to present them with a unique appeal. She came up with a series of shows that were executed on outdoor locations against historical backdrops. Though it was never done or seen before in Pakistan, the idea was welcomed by all and sundry, and now it’s a norm.
These included a resplendent showcase at Hindu GymKhana in 1990, another one in 1992 in Ismaili Gymkhana. Her most remembered and imitated show to date must be The Orient Express, held at the City Station in Karachi where models arrived on the ramp in Pakistan’s oldest steam engine. How dramatic is that! One can never forget the Venetian imagery of the show at Baradari in 1996.
For Shamaeel, fashion isn’t just business. It’s an expression and thus she also started adding a narration behind her ramp shows so that the viewers could get a background to her inspirations.
Another fun fact is that nowadays we anticipate that new collections of designer brands will run out of stock within a few hours, but back in 2010, women use to gather hours before Shamaeel’s exhibition and buy almost 90 percent of the attire on display.
Over the years, Shamaeel has established her signature couture style. Luxury, grandeur and traditional values are some of the highlighting aspects in all her collections infused with contemporary tones. She has created breakthrough designs and has represented Pakistan around the world.
In 2017, Shamaeel presented ‘The Blue Tulip’ collection which she termed as a “stream of consciousness” where an idea materialized into an ensemble. The collection drew heavy inspirations from the Ottoman Empire. It was loaded with vintage glamour and antique-colour ways. ‘The Blue Tulip’ had a Turkish-inspired tapestry and accents from that part of the world. The designer also interviewed owner of Iznik Classics in Istanbul along with Mehmet Said Cetinkaya during her journey in Turkey.
With a rich history of design and many more tales of grandeur to come, Shamaeel Ansari is still going strong framing the national narrative on fashion with aplomb.