New Delhi: Her maternal
grandmother is a direct descendant of Tipu Sultan and grandfather
was a businessman in Bangalore. Well-known Pakistani designer
Shamaeel Ansari, who calls Delhi a "home away from home", feels
the Indian fashion industry is more established and is keen to
have exchange of design activities between the two nations.
"I know for a fact that the Indian fashion industry has been a
more established and older industry. India as a country hosts many
crafts and exhibitions. I feel the entire sub-continent can learn
so much from it. Perhaps an artisan exchange for vocational
training would be a great idea," Ansari told IANS in an e-mail
interview from Karachi.
"Pakistan and India share their roots, their culture and a common
value system and heritage. This is what we already share and this
is the right step to begin from and build upon," she added.
Ansari shares a special relationship with the capital and calls it
a "a home away from home".
"Delhi for me is special, reason being people make the place
memorable. My best friend from college resides in Delhi. I have
had the good fortune of visiting Delhi consistently for 24 years.
"The place to me has been much more than what it can ever be to
anyone. To me, it means much more than shopping or sightseeing. It
is familiarity and a home away from home," she said.
"I have also had the opportunity of making some very close friends
in Delhi through the years. I feel human beings bond at a level
beyond national borders. Your joy, your sorrows are shared with
people you love. At that point, it is not national frontiers or
nationality we think of. It is the people you are close to, you
desire to be with," she added.
Ansari's strong and deep connection with India is no surprise as
one can find traces of Indian cultural influence in the family
lineage. Her maternal grandmother is a direct descendant of Tipu
Sultan and grandfather was a businessman in Bangalore. In fact,
their family had set up the Mysore silk weaving in Seringapatam at
that time. Generations later, her family moved to Pakistan, a year
before the partition in 1947.
So, her fascination towards designs is no surprise as Ansari grew
up with south Indian tradition of textiles and colours and painted
her dreams in all colours.
Coming from a business family, she went to the US to study finance
to contribute and take the business forward. But destiny had
something else in store for her, as before heading home, she took
a brief two-month sojourn in London and revisited museums and art
galleries and then life took a U-turn.
"Sitting at the Victoria Albert Museum (which was exhibiting the
throne of Tip Sultan and textiles of that era), I decided to delve
into the grandeur and richness of my ancestral history. Colours
spoke to me, the fine embroideries captured my love for detailed
craft, textures of velvet so sensual had me salivating," she said.
Hence she enrolled in the London School of Fashion and her debut
collection was displayed at Cafe Royale in London for an Imran
Khan Benefit Evening in August 1987, and after that she never
Today, Ansari has completed 24 years in the fashion business and
and designs under the label 'Shamaeel'. Her style of designing is
laced with magnificence and grandeur. Her solo shows are a treat
to watch as they are staged at historical venues with excellent
presentation. Flamboyant and exotic would be the apt way to define
her style of dressing and presentation.
Apart from designing for her label, she has now donned the hat of
the chairperson of Fashion Pakistan Council (FPK) and is working
towards betterment of the Pakistan fashion industry with her
expertise along with a bunch of other veterans from the industry.
"I feel fashion must be developed into mainstream business models.
Along side hosting fashion weeks, it is important for the council
to develop the fashion industry. At FPC, we take this as our first
agenda. The council is conducting monthly seminars on sourcing,
supply, production chain management, retail management, fashion
marketing, textile industry liaisons, craft development and
integration into design and styling," she said.
"Each of these seminars is conducted by specialists within these
fields. Not only in fashion but in the textile industry at large.
Secondly, we are organising inter-city and international shows to
develop and refine the new talent. It is the aim of the council to
financially record the data and sales of the fashion industry,"
(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)