By Manal Khan
Zainab Chottani may not have made it to the brouhaha of big names of wedding wear designers in the country (yet) but she has steadily acquired a quiet respectability amongst her fans. Zainab’s name boosted to fame after she started showing at fashion weeks and since then she has been busy associating herself with Bridal Couture Week, Fashion Pakistan Week, TV shows (dressing morning show hosts and lending wardrobes to serials) and showing whenever the need. Her latest appearance at the Shaan-e-Pakistan showcase in Delhi has further propelled her ‘bridal’ success and paved her way to reach out to the Indian market as well. She is available by appointment at her studio in Karachi which is where she stocks her collection.
Something Haute catches up with Zainab Chottani on her experience in India and her future plans in Pakistan…
Tell us about your experience at Shaan-e-Pakistan? What was the response like?
Zainab Chottani: Honestly, most Pakistani exhibitions based in India are not very well organized, so I wasn’t expecting much when I was going to India for Shaan-e-Pakistan, but I was very pleasantly surprised that everything was very organized and punctual. The Indians were very welcoming and gave us a very warm response.
Tell us about the collection that you showcased in India. Is it available here now?
ZC: Yes, we first took the collection to Lahore right after the exhibition, and then brought it to Karachi. It’s available at our studio here.
My collection was actually a sequel to my first bridal collection, called ‘Dhanak’. It was a continuation of that since it was very well received; however, for the Indian audience I wanted something more colourful and vibrant since their culture is very vibrant itself. Therefore in this collection, I added more colours. This collection is called ‘Aqasia Dhanak’ and it means reflection of shimmer. The theme of this collection was moonlight romance so you’ll see a lot of turquoise and blue and sequins.
What would you say is the difference between Indian and Pakistani design aesthetic? Other than bridals, how would you compare the street fashion of India with Pakistan?
ZC: The design sensibilities of Indians and Pakistanis is very different. The first most obvious difference is that Indian clothes are always very bright and colouful as opposed to our designs. For instance, if you asked a Pakistani and an Indian designer to make a yellow jora, the Pakistani designer would probably use a mellow, lemon yellow, whereas the Indian designer would most likely use a bright burnt yellow.
In terms of cuts, I feel that they are six months behind us. For instance we’ve moved on to the short shirts now and Indians are still making long shirts, and it was the opposite when we had introduced the long shirts.
Whereas street fashion is concerned, I feel that India has become extremely westernized and you hardly ever see women wearing eastern wear. The only time they wear eastern clothes is during weddings and Diwali etc.
How does a platform like this help with sales? Were you able to reach out to the international market?
ZC: The response is actually quite amazing. I didn’t exhibit there; we only showcased our collection on the ramp. But we basically exchanged cards with the people there and we’re still receiving orders through our online stores and lots of queries are coming in since the Shaan-e-Pakistan exhibition.
Will you be showcasing at the Fashion Week in November?
ZC: Yes I will, and then again later at BCW in Lahore. Can’t tell you much about the exhibition yet, but it’s going to be a really fun and colourful collection.
Why do you choose to showcase at BCW and not PLBW?
ZC: There isn’t a specific reason for this. Initially I was approached by BCW when they had first started doing bridal couture week, and at that time Vinny was heading this and as we have been friends for some time, it was only natural for me to choose BCW. Over time I’ve also noticed that from a commercial point of view, BCW is more beneficial for me. It gets more exposure and coverage on TV and that’s better advertising for my brand.