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Minaahil Umar- An Epitome of Grace and Grandeur

Minahil Umar Designer

Minahil, an architect by training, received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the National College of Arts (NCA) in 2019. Before joining NCA, she studied at Lahore Grammer School where she pursued her interests in Art, Computer Science, and languages. Minahil’s work while at NCA revolved around Urban Architecture, particularly on reimagining South Asian cities.

Stunned by her eloquent talent for creating artistic visuals that are clearly visible through her work, we decided to catch up with the dedicated designer about her off-work routine.

What kind of a person Minaahil is when she is not working or designing?

Downtime is spent predominantly with family, especially my little angel daughter, truly a bundle of Joy.

What sparked your interest in fashion designing?

I’d always been observant and with the passage of time developed a firm understanding of fabric, designing, and color compatibility. I was already offering advice and guidance to friends, and it seemed only natural to take a step in this direction and introduce a revival in the Pakistani couture ecosystem.

Who has been your biggest inspiration from the fashion industry?
I have always been inspired by the originality of the idea or theme but if I have to pick a name — Coco Chanel tops the list; simple, elegant, and original.

Are you self taught or have you formally studied fashion? If so, from where?

The answer to this question is a bit more complex than a simple yes/no response. I didn’t major in fashion but went to what is without a doubt one of Pakistan’s best art schools – NCA that focused on our holistic development as artists. So, despite majoring in architecture, I received some form of training in a range of other arenas; fashion, theatre, music, and miniature art among other things.

How do you think Covid-19 has affected the world of couture? How has it affected your business?

COVID 19’s impact is rooted in its inherent uncertainty. We have experienced a massive disruption in our supply chains, have had to rework our workshops to ensure physical distancing, and developed alternative payment and delivery services.

When it comes to being an artist, what exactly are you most fascinated about that eventually becomes a part of your work of art?

They say ‘God lies in the details’. For me, details matter a lot. There’s a way to express yourself in depth which makes every piece truly unique. While I focus on depth and detail – my work at the same time is minimalistic.

Does this demotivate you that a strong lobby of designers has already been here and it is difficult to survive for a comparatively new designer?

I believe every designer has their own uniqueness and their work has its own charm. There’s no end to learning, whenever I see an artist whose work stands out, I connect with them, exchange ideas. To evolve, it’s so important to learn.

I believe firmly that I have in the past, and continue to prove myself by the quality of my work. Fear goes out of the window when you’re only competing with yourself for self-improvement.

What is your personal style statement?

I like to keep it simple, so a white kurta, jeans with a pair of khussas any day.

If you could dress up one famous face from anywhere in the world, who would it be?

Deepika Padukone for sure!

How do you manage to create a merge of contemporary and traditional at the same time while keeping the real essence of old-time charm alive?

Honoring your roots, feeling truly blessed to have a rich culture of native art, poetry, literature – grounds your ways of thinking. This grounding is the cornerstone of my work, and I strive for constant improvement drawing upon contemporary style. So, for me, it isn’t a challenge to capture the old-time charm alive. It is the tradition that fuels my passion for this line of work.

If not a designer, what would have been your career path?

I’d have been an architect, offering advisory services on urban development.

What were you most afraid of while entering into this business?

Keeping a balance between my family and work.

What one hurdle that you faced the most in this business?

I don’t think I have faced many hurdles, it has all been really smooth for me up till now.

What is one opportunity that you are impatiently waiting for?

Waiting for would probably not be the best way to describe it, I’d reframe your question a bit, if I may, and share the opportunities that I’m working towards.
1- I’m currently working towards expanding into North America. Currently researching on the best combination of digital platforms, comprehensive warehousing, and payment gateway development strategies to expand into North America and cater not only to the Pakistani diaspora but also to allies who admire South Asian designs and fabric.
2- Working towards transitioning into an ethical workplace, where raw materials are sourced via fair trade, safe and inclusive workspaces are provided, and staff is compensated and rewarded for the real value that they bring to the table. I firmly believe that the Karigars are the lifeline of any business and I hope to set a standard of fair compensation and inclusive workspace. We all know it’s about time, someone has to take the first step.

What are your further plans regarding your designs?
At this point I’m content with my creative expression, I’ve reached a position where the business is stable with a small but robust clientele. I wish to connect, learn, and be inspired by others who are doing work that’s similar to mine. We really are carving a niche, and it would be great to connect with likeminded people.

What do you think?

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Written by Zernab Farooqui

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