Boulevard of Ethnic Chic

Boulevard of Ethnic Chic

Pakistani designer Sania Maskatiya brings handcrafted magic to India Bridal Fashion Week in Delhi

When filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy attended the 84th Academy Awards nomination lunch party in Los Angeles in February last year,not only was designer Sania Maskatiya excited about a fellow Pakistani’s work being recognised on an international platform,but she was thrilled that Obaid-Chinoy was wearing an ensemble designed by her. “It was a hand-embroidered piece in which the tree of life served as the focal theme. In fact,it was a great experience working with Sharmeen and I have designed many outfits for her,” she says.

For someone who launched her self-named label only three years ago,Maskatiya has certainly done well. Today,apart from selling in stores across Pakistan,the 30-year-old Karachi-based designer’s creations are available in Dubai,Saudi Arabia,Singapore,the US,UK and Canada. India too has warmed up to her creations; in fact,the Delhi edition of the Aamby Valley India Bridal Fashion Week (IBFW) — that started on July 23 and is on till July 28 at the Grand Hotel — will see her creations at a stall for the boulevard by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC). And though Maskatiya won’t be coming down for the event — she has prior commitments — she is looking forward to what is her first big showing in India. “I have had a couple of private exhibitions in Mumbai. We also stock and have exhibitions in Ogaan in Delhi. Besides,I had an exhibition in Kolkata earlier this year,and there’s going to be another one in August in Delhi. The bridal week opportunity came about thanks to Mini Bindra of PFDC,” she says.

Her line,however,is not a bridal collection; it’s a mix of ornate pishwas (anarkalis),straight shirts and capes. “The outfits in the collection have been crafted out of cotton,net,chiffon,raw silk,crepe,lamé and jamawar in a palette that ranges from bright hues to pastel shades. We have also used aari ka kaam (thread work) in resham along with zardozi,marori,nakshi dabka work with kora tilla stones,apart from sequins,pearls and Swarovski crystals,” says this textile design graduate of Karachi’s Indus Valley School of Art and

Architecture,who is also a regular at Pakistan’s

fashion weeks.

Having shown her collections in Pakistan and India,she notes that the biggest difference between the two markets is the colour palette. “Indians love bright festive colours,whereas pastels do really well in Pakistan. Besides,we make relatively shorter outfits for the former whereas in my home country,the clothing — particularly the formal variety — features longer silhouettes,” she says. Her design philosophy is textile-oriented,even as she develops her own prints. She dwells on the use of embroidered yardage in a bid to promote several embroidery techniques in her country.


Maskatiya is looking forward to presenting her first fashion show in India. Notwithstanding the fissures in Indo-Pak relations,she says she has never been refused a visa. “One just needs to plan the visit well in advance,” she says. At present,she is focusing on her private showings in New York and Chicago next month and a fashion show at the PFDC bridal couture week taking place in Lahore in October.

Other Pakistani designers whose creations will be on display at the PFDC Boulevard include Sana Safinaz,Khadijah Shah of the label Elan,Maheen Kardar Ali of Karma and Mini Bindra of Rubaaiyat.

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