I remember Mahgul Rashid’s debut at the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week in 2013. It was impressive but even more effective was the machinery that helped elevate her brand into public and media consciousness. Mahgul is Nasreen Sheikh’s grand daughter and with Selina Rashid (Lotus PR) as her sister-in-law (Mahgul is married to Selina’s brother) it was expected that she would get excellent PR. And she did. With celebrities like Meesha Shafi wearing and showing off Mahgul designs on the red carpet, she got the visibility a new brand can only dream of and it seemed that this young designer was all set to take off. To be fair, she did appear to have ideas.
Then she decided to sit out the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week in 2014, opting for a bridal showcase at the PFDC L’Oreal Bridal Week later in 2014. It was decent, but nothing memorable. It didn’t have the impact that Mahgul’s debut had had and she kind of slid into the backseat. Personally, I still didn’t have enough information or impression to form an opinion on the young brand. There were no eureka moments.
That changed when I recently visited her studio in Lahore and checked out her range of limited edition cottons. That, and speaking to her at length about her design ethos and thought process, has changed r rather has helped me form a fair opinion. My opinion on Mahgul Rashid: she’s an extremely intelligent designer who weaves thought process into her designs. She doesn’t make pretty clothes (though most of them end up looking fantastic), but clothes with quirk and character. It’s the sign of a genuine designer, one who doesn’t design for the masses but designs for her own satisfaction and is happy with the fact that fewer women will wear her clothes but those who do will be the ones who connect with what she is designing.
And so I ended up buying three Mahgul Rashid tunics from her exclusive summer collection. One, the silk, was a black print with tiger faces all over an edgy black pattern. This print was inspired by Richard Parker and the visual effects from Life of Pi. It was all about optical illusion, just like the film. The second tunic, a short top, has detailed art work of dissected fruits. Weird as this may sound, I love the interplay of leaves and seeds and the florescent orange zip just holds it together. The third, a more conventional tunic, is a simple striped lightweight cotton but the fly on the back lends it its character. I’m not a fan of creepy bugs but this one just begged for attention.
There were at least five other tunics I would have happily bought had they fitted or had I the money. It’s not the best idea to have an exhibition at the tail end of the month when budgets are low. The good thing is that Mahgul isn’t going anywhere. This exhibition at Ensemble may be over but the brand certainly will go places.
Three cheers for design!