It was more than 27 years ago that Shamaeel Ansari made a decision that changed the course of her career and her life. It also had a major impact on Pakistan’s fashion scene. After graduating from the University of California at Berkley with a major in Finance and Corporate Law, Shamaeel was supposed to join her family business. It was then that she decided against it and opted to go for her one true passion- fashion designing. It all began at London’s Café Royale back in 1987. The event was an Imran Khan Benefit Evening which served as a memorable debut for Shamaeel. She has not looked back since.
Today Shamaeel is one of the legends of Pakistan’s ever-growing fashion industry. Regarded amongst the doyennes of the fashion scene in this country, Shamaeel has established herself as an immensely creative designer whose label has stood the test of time. And it keeps growing in terms of both size and stature. From its roots in Pakistan, ‘Shamaeel’ has gone global over the years.
Hailed amongst the pioneer designers of Pakistan who made the Pakistani woman aware of fashion sensibilities, it is designers like Shamaeel that we should be thanking for instilling in us a true fashion sense. It was Shamaeel and designers of her calibre who added value to a regular outfit by lending their style sensibilities. Those who have once experienced Shamaeel can never be satisfied with anything else.The class and elegance that you see in this brand is something else altogether.
Known for her deluxe and top-of-the-line creations ‘Shamaeel’s’ is a brand that spells regal all the way. Her design philosophy is “Orientalism, vintage tradition, regal cultures and colour sensibilities,” which is also her hallmark, evident in a Shamaeel Ansari ensemble. “It is our eye for details, colour sensibilities and originality that our brand is known for,” she told ‘Brides & You’ in a recent interview.
This fashion icon enjoys a huge fan following when it comes to bridals. In fact the brand name ‘Shamaeel’ is synonymous with regal and timeless bridals. When asked if she has consciously worked on this aspect of designing, Shamaeel candidly responds, “Creating bridals is something I enjoy doing. Bridals are all about detailing. Being original to design that unique piece, one needs visualisation and creation to go hand in hand. We have a loyal clientele that keeps coming back to us because they know they will get what they want and more at ‘Shamaeel’s’. We believe in being original and that is also something that we have maintained since our inception.”
Here is one brand that does not churn out the same patterns and silhouettes day in and day out. It keeps on innovating while incorporating changing styles and trends. “Every year we come up with a different line, there’s always something new for our clients,” apprises Ansari. “However, a Shamaeel Ansari bridal can never be passé. Our bridals are classic that will never go out of style. One bridal of ours comprises of three or four separate pieces that can be worn differently on different occasions. Hence the claim that my creations can be worn in every season and the adorner will emerge super stylish irrespective of the many trends and fads.”
As for her favourite shades, “I love working with rich reds, rose pinks, ivories, maroons and earth tones because they are vintage and form a perfect backdrop for our specialised ornate embroideries and embellishments, especially antique and bareek tankas. We are best known for our embroideries. You will see some form of embellishments in my prêt line also.”
This designer caters to all age groups “ranging from 20-55 we have something for everyone. We have serviced three generations in the nearly three decades that we have been around” so her target market is basically all fashion conscious ladies.
Talking about current fashion trends and colours Shamaeel says, “As far as colours go focus is on rich hues this season. However, when designing a bridal there is no specific trend that can and should be followed. I have consultation sessions with my brides and together we discuss what they want and what would actually suit them. The best advice for brides-to-be is to follow your own sense of style that enhances your personality and brings out your best features rather than being a fashion victim. Trends are to be kept in mind and tastefully incorporated but they cannot be imposed upon you. Each bridal has to be handled in a personalised manner.”
This designer does not believe in role models for she feels, “One can only use role models in creating benchmarks in business. My hallmark is originality. I do not look elsewhere for inspiration for my creations. It would not be wrong to say that I am my own inspiration!” Shamaeel has recently launched her ‘House of Shamaeel’ that showcases beautiful bridal luxury line, evening wear prêt and cotton line. “House of Shamaeel is all about a certain image, very old romance, traditional and classic- that is also our philosophy! And that is also something I am focusing on at this point in time.”
Shamaeel has enjoyed the privilege of being Chairperson of Fashion Council and she believes fashion councils, “Provide young entrants an opportunity to enter into fashion at a low cost. I feel being there was a chance to mentor young people. It was a great way of giving back to the industry I have loved for 27 years,” Shamaeel signs off.