Nestled away from the bustling weekend crowds, the very first Suzali London exhibition took place on Saturday at The Arch. The premise of Suzali London is to not only introduce the UK market to both high end and emerging designers from India and Pakistan, but to offer a price point to consumers that is affordable. Owning a luxurious designer garment needn’t be demanding on your bank account as Sana, the founder of Suzali London explains.
“The reason why Suzali came about is because I have identified a real gap in the market related to Desi fashion. I feel that desi fashion needs to be more accessible to the UK population. I think in terms of existing supply, you have two extreme markets. You have very high end pieces, which are absolutely stunning. So you have your Sabyasachi, Tarun Tahiliani, beautiful, beautiful outfits and prices are pretty correlated to the intricacy of the work. At the other end of the spectrum, you have much lower prices but personally I don’t think they are as nice and I also don’t feel that it gives a true representation of the amazing designers of South Asia. There is so much talent in India and Pakistan and I feel that there are two real issues here. I don’t think we see the breadth of talent coming from that region and we also don’t see the price point. That is the gap I’m trying to fill.”
In order to do just this, a variety of designers are on offer at Suzali, which allows various budgets to attain a slice of South Asian fashion without compromising on an important aspect – quality.
“We have a variety of price points and designers within the Suzali London collection. There is Nida Azwer who is extremely established and her prices will be slightly higher. I don’t need to speak for her brand, it really does speak for itself. Mehreen Noorani comes with a very impressive CV. She graduated from the Fashion Institute in New York and she has been a buyer for some big brands. She also sits on various fashion institute councils. There are Bollywood actresses who wear some of her embellished capes, which is her signature statement.”
“Naureen Arbab is a well established designer. Karachi based, she supplies quite internationally to Canada, USA, Middle East and South Africa as well, but she doesn’t have any presence in London. That’s where I come in – I’m her exclusive distributor in London. Naureen Arbab’s collection is very versatile. It’s an old meets new kind of collection so you will have some of the more traditional outfits and more versatile items that are still on the traditional side but can be worn different ways.”
With a career in Banking and a degree in Maths, Sana’s sole drive for Suzali London is her pure love for fashion. Following designers very closely, she’s extremely clued up on how well trends and collections translate to an international market like the UK.
“If you think about the UK Asian market, it’s huge. You may have some women who are professionals, stay at home mums, some women of the older generation and I think you have enough variety within the female Desi population to support the outfits that Suzali provides. On the one hand you have very western outfits presented by Sarah Anees and Mehreen Noorani also caters for the modern Asian woman with those embellished capes. Then you have traditional people over here as well so you have designers like Lalarukh who I also stock.”
So how does one get various designers on board? Sana has used a variety of methods to touch base with designers, but the most effective of them all is explaining the gap in the market and enabling them to feel assured that their designs will sell well to a UK market.
“I think more and more Desi women over here are not going back to India and Pakistan as much as they would in my parents generation. We would go back pretty much every other year, whereas now more and more families have now moved out and we don’t have that link or access as easily.”
“Every designer would like to have some presence in London. It’s one of the financial capitals of the world, it’s one of the fashion capitals in the world and it’s such a cosmopolitan city with a large number of fashionable Desi women.”
Feature image: The Arch
A staple feature in most South Asian fashion collections is the bold use of colour, textures and craftsmanship to bring a vision alive.
Raishma Islam is no different and has taken on an 1920s art deco Gatsby feel, with flapper style dresses and gowns and fun ornate saris for SS15. “I like to have a theme and a story running through the collection,” she explained. With a Downtown Abbey feel and a nod to flapper style suits, art deco style prints and beading, Raishma has captured the essence on this particular era without compromising on the core elements that make for stunning Asian clothing.
I love the idea of reinvention and very rarely do we see collections being transported back in time to a period that has a very distinct style. I’m always amazed at how designers fuse two very different worlds and come up with an answer that combines the best of both.
Raishma has done this seamlessly with her new SS15 collection. Having worked with the likes of Elizabeth Emmanuel, Raishma said: “It was a great learning experience for me as I learnt about couture first hand, and it increased my passion for bridal wear design.”
Her passion continued developing until it was time for her venture by herself into the competitive world of fashion. “My father thought I was taking a big risk opening my own store, but I believed in my vision and I knew that it was pioneering for that time. It’s always hard running your own business. You have to believe in yourself always which can be very hard to keep up all the time,” she explained.
Nevertheless, Raishma has overcome obstacles and now runs a successful fashion brand. Stocking kaftans, Asian suits and bridalwear, you can find a full range of outfits to suit your occasion. Whether you’re getting married, attending a wedding or fancy something casual with a hint of glam for your pending summer holidays, there is something for everyone.
More than anything, craftsmanship plays a very important part for those who are particular with their choice in clothing. With no less than 15 years of experience under her belt, Raishma has worked alongside some of the biggest names in the British fashion industry and is a fully degree-qualified designer. This kind of background gives consumers a sense of confidence knowing that they’re paying for quality garments.
I’ve never quite understood why people would want to wear items once and then never have them seen again in public. I am all for buying clothes that can be worn time and time again and that includes luxurious gowns and elegant kaftans. The beauty with Raishma’s collection is even if you wanted a one night wonder, you’ll probably find yourself reaching for her outfits time and time again.
Check out Raishma’s new collection plus much more on www.raishma.co.uk
Images: Asiana Magazine
Saverah’s Urban Muslim Woman Show has been brightly circled on my calendar for months. Finally, on Saturday 14th June, hundreds of elegantly and colorfully dressed ladies descended upon the Novotel Hotel in Hammersmith for an evening of fashion shows, inspirational talks and our collective weakness – shopping!
Accompanying the various clothing and abaya stalls, visitors had the chance to purchase skincare products, handmade crafts, tasty bakes and some gorgeously designed jewellery.
Bringing consumers and businesses together as well as excellent networking opportunities, The Saverah UMW Show had something for everyone. Fashion shows with the latest in modest fashion and thought provoking speeches from inspirational women carried visitors into the evening.
Providing a solid platform to mingle with entrepreneurs, artists and of course official partners and bloggers, the ease of networking made this event one filled with opportunities and potential to establish excellent and unique collaborations.
Designers exhibiting and featuring their collections included Nahara, Asian Designers and Sri Munawwarah. The spectacular shows had visitors snapping away, all keen to leave with their very own nugget of runway glamour.
Nahara’s approach to their collections definitely makes their scarves all the more unique and bespoke. Working with a London-based calligraphy artist, Samir Malik, the end result of this seasons collection consisted of his work actually printed on the soft to the touch silk scarves.
To accompany the several glitzy fashion shows, Saverah also lined up a host of inspirational women who gave thought provoking speeches throughout the night as well as fund raising with Human Appeal who raised an astonishing £44,000.
HRH Princess Basmah, who supports reform in Saudi Arabia, explained the importance of attitudes changing towards women and towards men and boys at home. Having written extensively about political instability and social changes, the Princess, who resides in London, was well placed to talk about the work that still needs to be done to ensure that both men and women are not deprived of four birth given rights; Security, education, freedom and equality.
Her talk rang true to what many people essentially think and believe, but whilst talking with her, it was apparent to us both that not enough is being done to actually implement these changes.
The evening was definitely one that drew together various aspects that make up today’s modern Muslim woman. With an abundance of fashion designers, Saverah made sure to include other refreshing individuals showcasing their talents and passions. Not forgetting the spectacular amount of money raised for Human Appeal, the evening was a massive success and has undoubtedly shown there is much more depth to the modern Muslim woman than we think.
In life, some of us experience a calling so loud that it’s impossible to do anything else except respond to it. Whether we naturally gravitate towards our purpose or it hits us like a tonne of bricks, it eventually finds us.
Ziad Nakad, who was born in Lebanon, embraced his artistic and creative skills very early on in life. Sketching and producing gorgeously flattering outfits for his family, he honed his skills and in 1997 his dream became a reality when he launched his very own fashion show.
Not much is known about Nakad, which for me is just as well because really and truly, his collections really do say it all – whether it’s his haute couture or his bridal wear. The amount of attention to detail and importance placed on creating dresses that adapt and highlight the female silhouette are key traits that Nakad is known for. You don’t have look to far to see how concept almost marries comfort and the effortless finish each garment holds.
Eclectic uses of material and colours paired with a hawk-eye for detail makes Nakad’s dresses exceptionally popular among celebrities and fashion gurus.
In particular his Fall/Winer 2014 collection, which was inspired by the romantic nature of fall. Royal colors such as deep red, blue, emerald, purple, and beige were blended with very distinctive cuts to truly reflect women’s femininity. Shimmering golds gave the illusion of falling leaves, whilst the use of sheer material added an air of elegance. Each dress is a celebration of simplicity and sophistication.
Nakad doesn’t just stop at great design though. In order to truly match his creative standards, he chose to debut this haute couture collection 4,000 ft above the Colorado River.
The magnificent combination of Grand Canyon’s scenery, the completely transparent skywalk, and the exquisite collection, made Ziad Nakad’s fashion show not only the highest but also the most exceptional catwalk on earth.
This kind of effort into the presentation of such a glamourous collection shows you that far from merely wearing a pretty dress, Nakad looks to create an experience for his clientele. One that I’m sure stays with you for a lifetime.
This year’s GPU drew in an estimated 100,000 people over one weekend at the London Excel and amongst all the stalls, fundraisers and keynote speeches, was the Saverah Fashion Show.
Crowds of ladies queued in anticipation of seeing the latest trends in modest, Islamic fashion by an array of designers all of whom put on a dazzling show with innovative, sleek and fashion-forward collections.
Having never attended a fashion show dedicated to Islamic womenswear, I was remarkably gobsmacked at the endless possibilities and creativity when designing for the modern Muslimah.
Draping and embroidery were prominent features in most of the collections, with colours playing a pivotal role. Delicate creams created a whimsical femininity, whilst bold pinks and striking blues proved that modest fashion doesn’t necessarily have to be muted. In fact, none of the designers compromised style when it came to showing just how versatile modest fashion could be.
Spectators were treated to sparkling and chic collections by the likes of Divya Oswal, Neda, Grand Designs and Jaan to name a few. To say we were spoilt for choice is an understatement and given the choice, I would happily have something from each designer in my wardrobe. Check out the gallery below for a selection of gorgeous gowns that set tongues wagging and cameras snapping.
I can’t tell you how much I have been looking forward to 2013’s National Asian Wedding Show, which was probably the case for the crowds of people queuing well before the shutters opened at the London Excel.
There was no such thing as Asian timing where guests were concerned and as this year’s hotly anticipated exhibition got underway, brides-to-be armed with their wing-girls and fiancé’s were eager to see what inspiration they could take away with them.
With over 100 exhibitors plus a much anticipated fashion show, there was plenty to see, do and experience all in one hall. Included within the mix were car hires, lighting, photographers, pop up bars, which served some delicious mocktails, hair and make up, decor and of course, bridal wear.
I quite liked the fact that I appeared more as a bride-to-be dithering around on her own, rather than Press to most people I spoke with, but for those brides that hoped to draw inspiration for their big day, this event well and truly spoilt them for choice as exhibitors from all areas within the Asian wedding industry were out in full blast.
With notable sponsors such as the BBC Asian Network, Roshni Hair and Make Up and the City Pavilion, the organisers truly went to town when putting together an eclectic selection of specialists.
Not only that, guests who attended also got the chance to witness the International Asian Fashion Show.
Attracting what felt like the entire exhibition hall – I literally couldn’t move – designers featured the very best from their collections, drawing oohs and aahs and plenty of smartphone action. Of course the BBC Asian Network’s Noreen Khan was there to introduce the featured designers who would be wowing us with their collections.
Giving us a preview of what was to come in her gorgeous outfit from Fusion, crowds were definitely not left disappointed. I now personally want about 6 dresses for my wedding after seeing the versatility from those Asian designers.
So after attending both the National Asian Wedding Show and the National Wedding Show back in September, which was the better show? In all honesty, there is no clear winner. It’s genuinely down to what you have in mind for your special day.
If you’re looking to incorporate traditional elements then of course a specialist event like the National Asian Wedding Show is the perfect niche exhibition where you can find the right vendor and work with them to create exactly what you have in mind. Similarly, the National Wedding Show boasts the same type of vendors, but of course without that cultural influence.
Would I recommend that brides attend this wedding exhibition? Absolutely. In fact, the National Asian Wedding Show may have swayed it that bit more with me when it comes to the thought, effort and warmth exuded by everyone that I met.
Many of the exhibitors I spoke to have been in the Asian wedding industry for an average of 10 years, so they are well versed in the service they’re offering and are fully aware of emerging trends, which they incorporate and embrace.
The National Asian Wedding Show will be returning in 2014 at the Bradford Hilton on Sunday 12th January, 2014, the Midlands National Motorcycle Museum on Sunday 2nd February and London Heathrow T5 on Sunday 2nd March 2014. The London Excel Show will be back next year on the 18th and 19th October.
“Lightfall” was the name of Gaurav Gupta’s collection for Delhi Couture Week 2013 and in true form, he delivered what can only be described as luxuriously sensational creations.
Silhouettes clothed in silver, gold, black and teal reflected a modern elegance sprinkled with a dusting of tradition. The collection reveals the idea of mythology in the future. This is reflected with intricate attention around the head area as well as pointy shoulders and ear detailing, which adds a certain futuristic feel to the collection.
The sprinkling of tradition comes in the form of the classic embroidery associated with culture and rich history – a past that is firmly cemented, which makes for the perfect opposite against the unknown future.
From an aesthetic perspective, Gupta’s use of fabrics such as soft mesh, satin, georgette and lace fuse beautifully and creates a calm balance that it neither too soft nor harsh.
An alumni of Central Saint Martins in London, Gaurav Gupta has worked with fashion heavyweights such as Stella McCartney and Hussein Chalayan. Working especially close with lines and the motion of fabric, Gupta has always created collections which have been deemed ahead of its own time.
It’s not hard to see why Gupta became an instant success. Following his 2006 collection at India Fashion Week he was awarded Breakthrough Designer on several occasions. Setting the bar for up and coming designers, Gaurav Gupta’s signature style not only excels in experimenting with fabrics and cuts, but allows him the freedom to explore visions perfectly captured in stunning couture collections.
For someone who decides to embrace a trend when it’s nearly over, it’s been quite overwhelming staying up to date with current and future fashion trends for Habibi Lifestyle.
I tend to fleet in and out of love with Asian-wear and right now I’m seriously enamoured with the whole extravagance and richness you can only get from a kameez and a sari. The bold mix of colours, exquisite embroidery and overall attention to detail never ceases to amaze me. Likewise can be said for the abundance of jewellery that adds that all important finishing touch.
While some girls have a weakness for shoes, mine is definitely jewellery. Whether it’s authentic Indian or elaborate costume, I always find myself indecisive given the choice.
One trend that I’ve noticed amongst Asian and Middle Eastern girls lately draws its inspiration from traditional Shingar Patti’s and bridal Tikka’s.
For some, this won’t be a new phenomenon. In fact it could just be that I need to be more at one with my fellow Asians and Arabs!
Back to the trend. Jewelled headbands have added a glamourous touch to Eid outfits this year, but rather than splurging on a 24 carat gold shingar patti, high street stores are offering an alternative that can be utilised for the same effect.
Choker and collar necklaces have been gracing accessory shelves for a while and it seems girls are becoming savvier in making their purchases go much further beyond its intended use.
If you’ve yet to succumb to this alternative, here are a few necklaces that can be used as glamourous headbands.