Vancouver Fashion Week SS19 - Interview With Designer Shamsha Hashwani

Editorial images provided by Shamsha Hashwani
Runway images courtesy of Simon Lau

Please share a bit about your journey to embrace fashion design as a career.

Like many individuals, I had my own passion growing up and it was fashion. I was often called the “fashionista” of the family. I enjoyed dressing up, collecting magazines and flipping through pages and pages of fashion articles. However, the thought of pursuing anything had never come to mind until much later in my life.

When I grew up, I got married and moved to Pakistan. My family, especially my kids were my focus, my world. Once my kids went off to university, I had more time on my hands and I had the opportunity to focus on myself. I wondered, what if I tested the market and introduced a clothing line of my own? Without much hesitation and lots of enthusiasm I went for it! Of course – I could not have done it without the support of my family and close friends who believed in me every step of the way. 

How did you learn your skills?

I never studied fashion design, nor do I have any prior experience in the fashion industry before I launched my fashion brand. I have always been inspired and passionate about fashion. I am self-taught, and through my experiences I have learned and grown both professionally and personally.

 What comes easiest for you as a designer? What is hardest?

What comes easiest to me as a designer is creating a myriad of looks for a specific collection. However, what I find not necessarily the hardest, but the most time consuming is selecting the final looks for production. I create each look based on the collection theme, design concept and mood board. Selecting the final picks is one of the most tedious parts of the process as I go through a series of questions, debates, suggestions and alterations with my team. This process gives us the opportunity to conceptualize the collection down to the details and ensure its cohesiveness.

 Where do you find inspiration for new collections? How important is colour to your design process?

Because of my passion to create, I am constantly (many times subconsciously) taking inspiration from my everyday life activities (as cliché as it may be). For example, visiting the mosque and feeling inspired by the marble designs on the floor or the architecture - paying attention to design elements I have never noticed before or am noticing differently.

Combining colours is one of my favourite and essential steps when designing. Having alluring colours that complement each other plays a vital role that sets the tone for an entire piece. 

Readers would love to know more about the current collection you showed at Vancouver Fashion Week.

“This collection is very close to my heart as it is a tribute to my late-mother, Shanaz. Shanaz symbolizes love, compassion, integrity, courage and endurance. My mother was my support, my mentor, my best friend”.

Shanaz was an artist; this collection is inspired by her paintings depicting beautiful flowers, hence, the designs are specifically focused on floral embroidery. Textural embroidery techniques include 3D embellishments, beadwork, wasli motifs and intricate thread work.

The 16-piece collection features contemporary silhouettes ranging from glamorous jumpsuits, bejeweled gowns, and a modern twist to Shamsha Hashwani’s signature design aesthetics. The pieces redolent of old world and contemporary culture are crafted with silk, chiffon, georgette and jamawar, on a colour palette of gem colours.

“This is my tribute to Shanaz, my memories of her and my never ending love for her”.

My fav look in this whole collection is the one-shoulder shown on the far right above. Just wow!

 Do you have a favorite look in this collection?

One of my favorite looks in this collection is the “Fusion Saree”. It is an amalgamation of both eastern and western styles. A blouse imbued with striking silver embroidery (what we refer to as zardozi detailing), paired with contrasting colored, embroidered pants. For the final touch, the outfit is styled with one of my signature, hand crafted and intricately worked shawls.

Where can readers purchase your designs?

My designs are available at my boutique in Karachi, Pakistan. However, for international clientele, my designs are also available on my website and social media platforms – Instagram and Facebook. We deliver worldwide.

What's next for you as a designer and your brand? 

This season I will be launching my latest winter collection, which will also be available online for purchase. Furthermore, in the year 2019 I will be participating in my next fashion show in Pakistan. Stay tuned on social media for more! 

What advice do you have for young fashion artists just beginning their journey to become designers?

The advice that I would like to share with young designers is to remind them to stay true to themselves as artists. Realize your strengths and focus on them to improve them further. I realized that my strengths as an artist are my attention to detail and my colour combinations. I continue to focus on those strengths and today I am known for those qualities which stand out about my brand.

The process of designing is a step by step learning experience so it is important not to spread yourself too thin and lose focus. Set a goal and work backwards to create a strategy as to how to accomplish your goal. Do remember that not everything will go as expected or as you wished for, which is completely alright and sometimes essential for your learning. Most importantly, enjoy the journey of self realization and self expression.