We were delighted to hear Khadijah Shah, the brains behind Élan, sit down for a chat with renowned journalist Fifi Haroon from BBC Urdu during her recent trip to London. The interview revolved around the evolution of fashion in Pakistan, the growth of Khadijah’s brand Elan and how it appealed to an Indian clientele in particular. Sapphire also came up, amongst other issues.
Here are some of the interesting things that came up in the interview:
Élan has a growing interest amongst Indians
“They [Indian clientele] have awareness about Pakistani designers now too, my lawn is also available in India and I regularly make bridals for the Indian market too,” the designer informed.
“They all appreciated my work (at the fashion show for which Khadijah was in London), they all told me how they like our choice of colours,” Khadijah said, speaking of her use of pastels in bridals, as compared to the traditional reds and dark colours.
Khadijah Shah studied International Relations
That’s right, the designer studied International Relations at the London School of Economics! The international relations knowledge has come in handy as customer relations now, as Fifi pointed out!
How her family business began
“Fashion was something I kind of grew up with,” Khadijah reminisced over the in-house tailor and small workshop in her childhood home, which was always of great interest to her. It’s a passion she inherited from her mother and grandmother.
Why her bridal ensembles are so expensive!
The crystals and embellishments used in Élan ensembles are of top-notch quality, and Khadijah vouches for that. Small packets of crystals cost thousands of rupees, and it’s evident from the gleam and shine when you see them up close!
What is the most expensive element in an outfit
“Hand-worked embellishments are the most precious aspect of her ensembles,” Khadijah revealed.
Does Élan use real fur?
Animal activists can calm down. Elan has used faux-fur for their recent luxury pret line, keeping in mind the sensibilities of the people.
What did Khadijah Shah wear to her own wedding?
A gold gharara, cream short kameez with a grassy green (or dhaani, as Khadijah called it!) dupatta, all by the pioneer Bunto Kazmi. How perfect does that sound? We need to get our hands on a picture of Khadijah as a bride!
News flash: Élan flagship store in Karachi
Khadijah also revealed that the Élan store in Karachi is currently under construction and will be opening very soon. A likely magnum opus, as Fifi predicts it to be! Now that’s some high-end fashion to look forward to.
What was her favourite era, in terms of fashion?
“As far as beauty, grandeur and adornment is concerned, the courts of Lucknow and the fashion we see in blockbuster Indian films today…” is what appeals to Khadijah the most. This grandeur is definitely something that comes across in her designs.
The Sapphire split
“Sapphire was a passionate endeavour, and is something I’m very attached to and will remain attached to; it’s just that our visions were not aligned anymore. Their direction was going one way and mine the other,” Khadijah explained regarding her split with textile brand Sapphire.
Will Khadijah launch her own high-street brand, Fifi asked. “You never know, I might,” Khadijah replied.
Fashion in Karachi versus Lahore
“I feel as far as Elan is concerned, my Karachi customers are not very different,” Khadijah mused, when asked about the difference in taste between Karachites and Lahoris.