The fashion powerhouse Umar Sayeed: It is the most amazing, world class, and outstanding collection! These were the words which always resonated from clients and buyers’ mouth whenever Umar Sayeed showcased his bridal collection on the ramp. In an exclusive Interview with us the veteran designer talks about the change in Fashion Industry and his experiences as a designer.
What does Pakistan fashion have these days that wasn’t present before? It is definitely the way a dress is created to enhance sophistication and grace with style that was lacking before. Umar Sayee, a muse for the fashion onlookers and an inspiration for those who think that fashion is the heart beat for a person, for whom clothes exhibit your taste of life. Umar Sayeed took fashion very seriously from the beginning and continued his path with much determination. This passion was the reason behind ignoring and breaking stereolypical notions of males not taking fashion as a profession of choice. Some 25 years ago he sensed the beauty and importance of heritage and has been true to the profession till this very day.
Let’s have a look on latest Umar Sayeed Bridal Wear Collection:-
Umar Sayeed proved himself before the world with his ingenious and inventive work and he is humble about his success as he thinks that it is a journey of learning and unlearning every day. For him work is worship and he is true and loyal to his profession. This is one of the reasons that he has never displayed and mediocre collection on the ramp. The previous year he didn’t participate much in the fashion shows and when asked he simply stated that he himself wasn’t satisfied with the collection and displaying it without personal satisfaction for the sake of money was just not what he believed in. Loyal and true to his passions, this Lord of fashion has time and again competed at the international platform to make us all proud. We talked to Umar Sayeed in this special New Year issue as a special treat for our readers who must have wished to take a sneak peak into the life of this ultra classic designer.
Your success in the field of fashion has not been overnight. Would you like to recall your start in 1990s and the journey that still continues?
This success didn’t happen overnight. The old guns of the industry like me faced tremendous problems at the beginning of their careers especially when you have a society who couldn’t swallow the existence of male designers in fashion line. When I started this professional could see Rizwan Beyg the only male figure beside me working as a designer. And we were criticized first but later on the trend changed and now you can observe the demolished stereotypical notions as most of the designers are male. I am not making a comparison but 25 years ago nobody took fashion seriously and now the things have changed completely. With the concept of fashion designing schools the fashion itself has become an industry.
The house of Umar Sayeed always tries to enhance the hidden sophistication and elegance in one’s personality through right cuts. Designing and colour schemes. Probably by the grace of God we are able to generate appreciation from International clients since there are so many Pakistanis and Indians living abroad.
After all these years do you regret any moment ore trend that you should not have encouraged?
No I am not guilty of any such crime. I do whatever I feel of doing and then there is not regret afterwards.
You do not have any formal fashion training? How did you home your designing skills over the years considering that you are now role model for the young designers?
Designing clothes is an art and an institution can only polish your abilities, they are inborn and gifted. In our times there were no fashion institutes and we learned and created on our own without any guidance. The main reason behind our learning was that we made mistakes and we experienced it all and then unlearn the things that shouldn’t be the part of the work. Now with so many fashion institutes where you can learn a lot, there shouldn’t be any room for mistakes.
Pakistan’s fashion industry has grown over the years. How do you personality feel about this growth? Are we moving in the right direction?
If you are asking about my honest opinion than I don’t think so that we are heading in right direction. It seems that every other person is turning into a fashion designer without any experience. I am not against those who are learning from fashion institutes, I just feel that we are overloading this industry with those designers who have started their careers from drawing room exhibitions and family appraisal. The runway shows are buying this talent with money. This is saddening to an extent as every Tom, Dick and Harry has become part of this big game. Though educated designers have made their way into this field but with the addition of two many designers it will soon reach its saturation point. The same case has been seen in our music industry and this is alarming too.
Honestly, the increase in number of rising fashion weeks is producing nothing except quantity instead of quality clothes. I am not saying that we shouldn’t encourage these fashion shows but they are generating less of the talent and revenue and more of the mediocre art. It’s not acceptable as fashion is an art and there shouldn’t be any mediocrity in arts.
Do you think Pakistan’s fashion industry is ready to compete internationally? In this regard how much is TDAP helping the designers?
TDAP is helping few of the designers as you need contacts in the ministry to get you going to the international platform. The problem is that no one is taking fashion serious and we have seen that all around the world this is a serious flourishing business. Here in our country the case is diferent and opposite to the rest of the world. If you are not taking it seriously yourself, do you think the rest of the world would take it your business sincerely?
If you have to choose your brand ambassador who would it be?
It would definitely be Meesha Shafi.
You works mostly reflect heritage. How do you manage to blend that with contemporary fashion?
Heritage is one thing that we should feel proud of an promote it. Our heritage is beautiful and we should use it in a right manner. This is one of the reasons why my clothes are blend of heritage and contemporary cuts.
Over the years which international designers have inspired you?
It’s Valentino who has inspire me over the years and the clothes are with classic cuts and elegant style.
You are one of Pakistan’s internationally acclaimed designers. What are your feeling about it?
I never consider myself successful as I learn everyday but I have mixed emotions about my country. I feel proud to be a part of country with rich heritage and beautiful culture but on the same time I feel bad for all the things that have occured to my poor motherland. It’s us who have ruined this beautiful piece of land. Everyone should work for a cause and do something for the betterment of humanity. This is the high time to use words into actions.
There are too many fashion weeks happening around the year? What is your take on this?
Honestly, the increase in number of fashion weeks in producing nothing except quantity instead of quality clothes. I am not saying that we shouldn’t encourage these fashion shows but they are generating less of the talent and revenue and more of the mediocre art. It is not acceptable as fashion is an art and there shouldn’t be any mediocrity in arts.
Why did you not participate fully in fashion weeks and fashion shows?
How can I showcase my collection when I myself didn’t feel satisfied with about my work? This year I wasn’t satisfied with my work and true to dedication, I couldn’t have the courage to put passable stuff on the ramp for the sake of revenue.
Are you working on a new collection? Kindly elaborate on what your fans may expect?
My work always depicts some past story and is an extension of my previous collection. I cannot forget past and use it with the contemporary style. My next collection will be an interrelation of old things stories with new happenings.
Many fashion schools have been established in recent years, which churn out hundreds of designers every year? How do you see the scope of creativity in them? Will it lead to saturation in fashion industry?
I never had and will never have issues with those institutes which are actually nurturing youngsters to learn about fashion. I’ll encourage anyone who has a talent and seriousness to take fashion as a profession. In our times things were different as there were rarely any academies to groom us as professionals. As the new generation is a learned one so they shouldn’t be committing any mistakes as we did in our past. My only issue is with those so called designers who have started their career from their drawing rooms. They are not contributing much to this industry instead of copying designs from leading designers and International market.
Many of the new designers are copying the works of international designers? How can we put a check on this practice?
You are talking about international designers I can name the shops that actually copy the hard work and creativity of national designers. it is frustrating to some extent and we cannot put any check on it. This comes under ethics and everyone should be aware about their good and bad will.
You have a large international clientele. How do you create a different identity or niche for your customer?
The house of Umar Sayeed always tries to enhance the hidden sophistication and elegance in one’s personality through right cuts, designing and colour schemes. Probably by the grace of God we are able to generate appreciation from international clients since there are so many Pakistanis and Indians living abroad.
Can you name reigning trends for this season and 2013, as far as what’s hot in colour, fabrics and cuts we should be looking out for?
This is the high time when we should forbid goodbye to long shirts and large volume outfits. Length will go up in a moderate manner and warm colours will be in. The colour palettes will mostly includes all shades of green.
As a fashion designer yourself, do you find it harder to buy clothes designed by other people?
Yes, I really find it difficult to buy someone else’s clothes. The funny thing is I never like my own clothes too but still I wear them anyways. Allow me to share one of my habits with your readers: I always find bad clothes very tempting and interesting since there is so much to observe. Whenever I stare at a lady, she gives me a very weird look when actually I am more interested in her clothes than her own self (Laughing).
What does pret and couture mean to you? When will couture come to mean more than just bridal in Pakistan?
Our problem is that we have made the bridal terminology an abuse. We should take pride on our creations since our bridal wear are famous all around world. Bridal work is difficult and pret is easy to handle since there is less embroidery and more of cut work. You have to make one pattern and then copy the design with different colour schemes. The only thing challenging in pret wear is to create something different and unique over a short period of time.
What does vintage have fashion has that contemporary fashion never will have?
It may sound cliched but old is gold and there is not comparison to it. The vintage fashion is timeless, elegant, unique and absolutely stunning and this thing isn’t observed in contemporary.
Most classic piece that you have created…
I take pride in making timelss classic Saris and Ghagras.
It’s the saris which make ladies belonging a different age groups look elegant.
The best thing about being a Pakistani…
You can say it the best or the worst at the same time but we are very resilient and immune towards tragedies now and we forget them very easily.