This extract is part of a larger interview.
Style is as much Meesha Shafi’s personal brand as is her booming voice or her unabashed views on women empowerment. It’s refreshing that despite being a fearsome feminist she is equally comfortable embracing her fashionable identity; in fact she more than embraces it. She celebrates it, which is evident in her sartorial choices. Whether it’s her androgynous jumpsuits accessorized with heavy metal, her Gucci Malin sandals or her unorthodox use of glitter in her makeup, Meesha is equally comfortable in an ivory Rohit Bal traditional dress worn with a nose ring. Her bold, red lips are trademark but Meesha Shafi can just about make everything work.
Does it bother her or does she take it as a compliment that her style is so intrinsically associated with Meesha Shafi, I ask her during an indepth interview we sit down for. Not many people obsess over style when it comes to male musicians but when it comes to Meesha Shafi, it is an inseparable part of her. It’s her brand as well as part of her persona.
“You can’t separate me from that,” Meesha comments, without a moment’s delay.
“I have been very, very drawn to fashion or style, just how you clothe yourself, as a form of self-expression from a very young age. I also had people around me who were very fashionable, that includes my parents, so I got a lot of exposure. My dad particularly had a very unusual sense of style and I learnt a lot from him actually. My mother is very elegant. But I saw a lot of funky stuff in my house at a very early age back in the day, and I’m talking about the 80s.”
The eighties was a very funky decade, I pitch in…
“It was a very funky decade and it was totally being embraced around me! So I come from a house of creative people and I think everyone around me was using clothes to express themselves and have fun with it! So I grew up with that; it doesn’t just go back to my modeling days. It’s not just the modeling or fashion industry that exposed me to fashion. I do feel very closely connected to it. When I was a child I would sit and cut up my clothes, stick things on them, paint them and put them back together. So it was very, very, very important for me to be wearing something nobody else is wearing.”
Meesha is known for having a unique dress sense. Many stylists have tried to take credit for it but anyone who knows Meesha also knows that her style is completely her own.
You’ve got a very urban and contemporary style, I ask her. It’s quirky and quite untraditional. Does she ever worry that the masses are unable to relate to her and that she may lose out on mass popularity because of it? Does she feel that her sense of style intimidates people?
“I think it does, but I’m fine with that,” she responds with a smile, as she unfastens the heavy metal belt that she’s wearing over a plum velvet jumpsuit. “I’m completely okay with intimidating people.”
“I was asked about style and I found myself answering that I don’t think people can relate to me too much, at like a mass level,” she continues. “But yeah that’s fine because I would rather that they relate to my music or my creative output rather than what I’m wearing. What I wear is for myself; I’m not doing it for them to understand. I like that I’m giving them something they don’t understand. Because how else are you going to do new things?”
- Read Meesha Shafi’s full interview in Instep on Sunday, in which she speaks about her professional and personal choices.