The Express Tribune – Maheen Karim on elegance, femininity and high street fashion

KARACHI: Maheen Karim entered the fashion world in 2006, but had decided she would become a fashion designer much earlier on. “Since I was 13, I wanted to design. From a relatively young age, I wanted to enter this field. So I opted for Saint Martins College of Art and Design and pursued a degree in Fashion Design and Marketing,” she said, in an interview that took place at her Clifton residence.

Karim said she was never interested in men’s wear. “For me, women’s wear has a lot to do with timeless elegance, something that you can call ‘mature fashion’. Women’s wear has to have a very sophisticated style.”

Her design philosophy, according to her, is largely defined by her idea of femininity. “I have never followed trends per se. I would rather choose an elegant woman over a trendy one,” said the designer. “She should sport a feminine and sophisticated look. I design in a way that makes women feel very feminine.”

Karim, who has a successful career to boast, had a story to tell when asked why Oscar-winning film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy preferred to wear an outfit designed by her at the Gucci Award for Women in Cinema at the 69th Venice International Film Festival last year. “We are childhood friends and went to Karachi Grammar School together. Since our school days, both of us were termed as ambitious,” recalled Karim. “It’s very kind of her to remember me and to take me along this path. I styled the outfit she wore at the Venice Film Festival, and also wore a tailcoat that I designed when she was receiving an award from the president of Pakistan,” added Karim adding that Obaid-Chinoy owns the largest collection of her outfits.

All set for launching her prêt collection in collaboration with Bonanza, Karim said, “I believe that runway clothes should be on the shelf, where they are available for everyone. Zahir Rahimtoola said he was sure his wife Sheherzad would love to wear my clothes too,” she said, referring to the CEO of Labels. The designer revealed that Shezray and Shehrnaz Husain of The House of Ensemble also encouraged her to step into the high street market and said they would love to wear her clothes from the runway. “With my deal with Bonanza, I am now offering designer wear for high street fashion. It’s just what Kate Moss did for Topshop or Karl Lagerfeld did for H&M!”

With a price tag of Rs3,000 and above, Karim said that she is launching her prêt wear for the common man.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2013.

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