Q. So Kami, as cliché as it may sound, our foremost question to you is how did your journey as a designer take effect?
It has been twenty years since I have been in the field of fashion. I graduated from Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design in 2000. I was part of the third batch and as soon as I graduated I started my business along with Maheen Kardar and that enterprise was Karma, we worked for 8 years and then 12 years ago House of Kamiyar Rokni was born. I run this organization with my cousin Tia, who is on a little sabbatical these days.
Q. So, who is the creative being behind those beautiful bespoke made-to-order bridals?
Well, Tia does the research and development and then I design my creations. Having said that, we don’t have designated jobs, we do it all together and it’s fun that way.
Q. What changes have you seen in the Fashion industry, from the time you started to present day?
Well, a lot has changed. There are so many designers with their own aesthetic sense. I have seen the industry develop, just like you see a baby growing in front of you. When I started, the country had just opened up to fashion magazines, and then Pakistan Design Council was born and a platform of fashion week happened which took fashion industry to a completely different level. And today, Fashion industry has become humongous.
Q. Why did you choose to part your ways with Karma?
Well, it’s simple. There were creative differences and I thought I could do better on my own.
Q,Very recently you did a collaboration with another brand, does this mean you are expanding your business to a whole new level?
Yes, I did a collaboration with Anaya where we had luxury unstitched pieces on affordable prices. We also did a bridal line with Anaya which was at a very affordable price point because I think that’s the future. In any industry when there is innovation and technology you have to use it, and this was all mechanized stuff. Now a days there is a lot of mechanized embroidery and I feel if u want to stay relevant and current you have to explore what’s the future and then you have to dabble with what the technical innovations in your field are. I also believe in good synergy, and Anaya is owned by a high school friend of mine, Kiran Chaudhry. We did this experimental line which went really well and now we will continue and work on the second line.
Q. What is your design philosophy?
My design philosophy is mixing art and culture, and imagination. I like the elements of world history and culture. I also believe in craftsmanship and creating fashion which has a certain use of craft that makes it timeless, so I basically play with traditional elements but make sure it has an element of surprise. Simply put, House of Kamiyar Rokni creates dresses that are rooted in tradition for the modern woman.
Q. And what is your take on the A-list designers whose dresses are just bling but nothing else?
Well, to each to their own. We are not into European or Lebanese kind of aesthetic, we do variations on traditional work.
Q. When will Pakistan Fashion Industry be taken seriously on global fashion platforms?
We are close. It’s only a question of time and we will be there. Sania Maskatiya showed her collection and NYFW. That is huge. A lot of the designers are very popular in UAE. I think, things have developed enough, and there are many design houses that have that kind of scale and production facilities which is required to compete in an international market. Also I think, why we have not been able to make a mark in international market is the fact we are still one of the few countries where people do wear their national dress so there is a huge market within the country. And tends to sustain a lot of business. But this is not stopping designers from going global, so slowly but surely we will get there.
Q. Which female luminary would you love to design an outfit for and why?
- Cate blanchett because she is a beautiful combination of beauty and brains.
- Fatima Jinnah has always fascinated me, she was a such a strong woman for that time
- Madhulbala because she was beyond a conventional heroine, she was unusual in so many ways, the enigma surrounding her persona is still very appealing.
Q. How important is Instagram to connect with the consumers?
Oh, it’s extremely important. It is visual, instant and fairly inexpensive as compared to other advertising touch points. We can control our reach and hit our target audience so accurately. I think if you are in fashion then Instagram is a MUST. You can’t survive without Instagram in this field.
Q. And what is your take on personal accounts being public?
Well my page is public, and I think it gives the audience a chance to know you as a person. It helps in connecting with the audience. Publishing is dying, the last fashion magazine Libas is also no longer in print, so yes I interact with my followers and fans through my personal Instagram account. People want to know what your life is, what you do, your activities and since we are public figures so it’s okay. It is helpful from business point of view also, it helps build the brand. Now to what level it is that you want to display your personal life varies from person to person.
Q. How do you deal with trolling?
- I think it’s rude to comment without thinking rationally, but we can’t stop the trolls. So I just ignore by blocking people.
- If you weren’t a fashion designer, what profession you would have chosen?
- If not fashion then anything in art. Be it textile designing, carpet, basically anything that falls under the category of art. I could have even been a fashion blogger like you.
Q. Who are your three most favorite international designers?
- Yves Saint Laurent. He was really ahead of the curves during 60s, he adapted street culture into women’s clothing, he put them in pants and trench coats, he empowered them. I loved his sense of color and since colors are a very strong element in my creations, I can identify with him as a designer.
- Chanel. She was totally ahead of her time. She changed how women dressed and created blueprint of how modern woman dressed even to today. That kind of design vocabulary is something to be admired.
- Cristóbal Balenciaga. He is a master craftsman in terms of cuts and structure.
Q. And any favorites in India?
Sabyasachi for sure. He has taken his brand to another level. I love his aesthetics. I also like Rohit Bahl.
Q. What are the three things you notice in a woman?
- Sense of humor
- Individual style
- Balance between looking stylish and natural
Q. What are the three things you notice in a man?
Just the fitting of their outfits. In Pakistan, men don’t really give importance to fittings and it really is annoying. So if a man is wearing perfectly fit dress, ill notice.
Q. Many of our female readers want to know how exorbitant your brand is!
We are a pretty expensive brand. Our bridals start from 5 lac to 10 lac and more. But we do accommodate people. At the end of the day, we are a niche brand and have a specific clientele. Having said that, we like to cater to people who like our work and try to work around their budgets if possible.
Q. Who are your 3:00 am friends?
HSY, Fia Jamshed, Amna Haq, Zainab Qayum and, Rehan Bashir. I am very close to these guys and love bitching with them about who is wearing what or how horrible someone looked.
Q. Three words to describe our fashion industry?
- Over the top
Q. Three desi trends you hate the most?
- Girls wearing their bridals on other peoples wedding, basically over dressing,
- Too much makeup and over done hair
- Too much bling on outfits, where nothing is defined
Q. Three best dressed people in our entertainment industry?
- Fia jamshed
- Mahira khan
Q. Three worst dressed people in our entertainment industry?
Oh, I think it would be rude to point out and I would have to be a little diplomatic here. There are a lot!!! I mean most of them need a stylist!
Q. Three underrated fashion designers?
- Zahir abbas
- Iman Ahmad of Body Focus
- Yousuf Bashir Qureshi
Q. Three overrated fashion designers?
I genuinely don’t think anyone is overrated. The designers who have got tremendous attention have earned it. I mean you don’t t get success if you have not created what people want. They deserve to be there. However I would like to add here, some designers do like to constantly pat themselves on the back and give themselves titles. So they need to calm down! Let people appreciate them !
Q. What’s your take on the trend of copying dresses?
Well if you talk about liberty backside “designers” then you can actually find all the outfits of all the designers there. They are alive and thriving and now with Instagram it has become easier for them to copy. The quality is obviously not even 25% of what designers offer. Price conscious people go to them. But what is upsetting is, when second tier or third tier designers who proclaim to be designers copy your designs. And what’s even worse is when our elite designers copy international designers, now that’s embarrassing.
Q. Do we have good stylists?
Tariq Amin and Nabila are too good. Barring them, there are Mehak Saeed and Yasir Abdul Aziz. It’s a developing industry.
Q. Three things you hate about yourself?
- I can be little undisciplined, I wish had more control over myself
- I can also be a little hyper critical
- I can also be insensitive
Q. Three best traits in you?