In a country where many things are not progressing at the state that they should, fashion continues to break barriers, making its place as an industry to be taken seriously, as well as gaining momentum internationally. This is unusual on many levels because in this patriarchal set up, where men are in power everywhere, the fashion industry is one that is largely run and controlled by women, and is the one industry that is doing so well. Which goes to show that women, when given power, can really shuffle things around.
However, things weren’t always like this. There was a time where Pakistan was too conservative and controlling of a society to allow women to simply slip into power like this. There were some women who took that right for us on our behalf, and on this day, it’s necessary that we pay our thanks to these women for making us a force to be reckoned with.
Bunto Kazmi is a revered name in the fashion fraternity, and when one looks at her work, it’s easy to understand why. Kazmi carries style, tradition and revivalism in her blood; she belongs to a prominent family that already had their roots in fashion as early as the 50s. It was in fact her mother in law, Mrs Sughra Kazmi that began the business. Taking over the family business, Kazmi is considered to be one of the first bridal couturiers of the country, and it is no surprise that Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy trusted Kazmi to create the look that she would wear to the 84th Academy Awards when she won her first award.
Fun, fabulous and fierce! Frieha Altaf is the epitome of strength and creativity. While her awards and accolades are way too diverse to be able to list down in such a small space, Altaf is well known all over Pakistan, and men like to flatter themselves by saying that she thinks and works like a man. Beginning a modelling career in the 80s, when modelling wasn’t easy or respectable, Altaf championed for freedom from stereotypes. She proudly admits that ‘men are intimidated by her’, and men can only wish they were more like her: She juggles both professional life and motherhood with ease, and also manages to look extremely hot while doing it all!
Fareshteh Aslam is the mother of fashion journalism as she was the editor and creator of Instep, the first ever fashion broad-paper publication. She started her career in Sports journalism but soon turned to the stylish world of fashion, her aim always being to keep women centrestage. Fareshteh has played a pivotal role in the rise of the industry, whether at Instep, Lux Style Ki Duniya, Lux Style Awards, Pond’s Miracle Journey or the countless events and initiatives that she keeps working on. Now a PR maven, Fareshteh is spreading her magic to media communications.
Maheen Khan is well known even outside the fashion industry for looking so flawless all through these years! She revolutionized fashion by being the first original fashion designer, brought truck art to the forefront with her label ‘Gulabo’, and made us fall in love her funky silver hair and impeccable sense of style. Khan is an established name in the country and is well known internationally as well. She continues to be the symbol for ‘timelessness’ as her work through the years, as well as her standing in the industry even today, prove that women at all ages can be powerful, fun and successful.
If there is anyone who can be considered the backbone of fashion, its Seher Saigol. She was the first person to introduce Pakistan’s first International glossy magazine, Libas, that every Pakistani girl grew up reading. It was a guide to following all the latest trends in fashion, beauty and lifestyle and connected Pakistan with India and the UK, where it was published. Sehyr can be credited with giving discipline and growth to the fashion weeks in Pakistan and thus pushing the business of fashion to the limelight. Fast forward to today: Saigol is the chairperson for Pakistan Fashion Design Council and a powerhouse in her own right.
While Fifi Haroon is credited with various kinds of achievements, she should be foremost applauded for being rebellious and risky at a time when things were not easy for women in fashion. With the launch of her magazine, Xtra, Haroon lay the foundation of celebrity journalism and is an example for all fashion and celebrity journalists today. This talented lady has such a strong hold over her words, that not only can she write well, but she can also sing them, having also been a vocalist for Junoon back in the day.
We love how Nabila is such a strong force that her first name alone is a brand on its own and well recognizable amongst people of all ages and sexes. (Think Madonna, or Kajol) Fashion is incomplete without her touch: she can transform the ordinary into fabulous by her vision. She is the most celebrated stylist and her salon, Nabilas, is responsible for all major make up and style trends in Pakistan. Having also recently created her own ‘No Make-up Palette’, Nabila proves that no task is unattainable for Pakistani women.
Sonya Battla is one of the finest fashion designers of our country. Having built her brand nearly 15 years ago, and continuing to maintain impeccable quality, her clothes are well thought out and relevant (they are actually sensitive). Sonya has shied away from major expansion, being a perfectionist makes that impossible, but when it comes to design she has set a benchmark for other Pakistani designers to strive towards.