Fashion weeks and award shows come and go, forever on a loop, and just as busy on the circuit is Nomi Ansari, whose life and career appears like a hyperbole of designing new collections, wardrobes for celebrity friends, films and always, his travels. Nomi Ansari’s craft, year after another, has managed to create its niche in the ensembles of any one who likes a splash of colour in their life. His own life is just as colourful and he’s always on the go, managing work and a star-studded social life with his family, pets and the more than occasional migraine that is part and parcel of this demanding kind of business.
In this Instep exclusive, he shares plans for the upcoming year, plans for his 20th work anniversary celebration and comments on controversies that are looming in the fashion industry these days…
Instep: You started off the year with Kaleidoscope, shown at the Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi. Tell us about your PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week collection, which I hear is all about athleisure?
Nomi Ansari (NA): Kaleidoscope was a signature collection that had mirror-work as a twist. We’re known for our colour palette and the structure and contour of our clothes, which people want and adore. Kaleidoscope was very well received. Now, at PSFW 2019, we’re collaborating with a brand called Tuhura Athletics for a gymwear collection for women and men, titled Nomi Ansari Active, which is going to be available online. It’s an extremely affordable collection. Let’s see how it goes.
Instep: You’re one of the few designers who consistently show in both Lahore and Karachi. How important is this for business?
NA: Extremely. The PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week is a bigger platform and for someone like me, who is from Karachi, I see that it opens up more business for me in Lahore. In terms of business, Lahore suits me better. PFDC, as a council, is also very organized and is more welcoming and open to new ideas.
Karachi is a bigger city; it has bigger problems. There is more mafia, more bloggers, more journalists, and of course more designers. There are councils and then there are TV channels doing their own shows, sometimes with better aesthetics and bigger budgets. This diversion has created a lot of issues; it’s all jumbled up and ideas are not being shared. We need to work as an industry and work under one platform otherwise, it eventually won’t work for anyone.
Instep: You as a brand will also be celebrating 20 years in the industry soon. You must be planning something big?
Nomi Ansari: We’re planning something extremely exciting that hasn’t been done before, in Pakistan at least. Of course, I am going to be doing something that is completely out of the box, something that will actually create a ‘rainbow in the city.’ We’re doing our paperwork and research on this and it’s going to be fun, retro and will be befitting to our 20-year celebration.
My brand is my baby. We don’t have any investors, this is something we started off with one room and one sewing machine, and we now come in the list of the top 3 fashion brands in Pakistan.
Instep: You’ve also been an integral part of the Lux Style Awards over the years. What do you think of their evolution?
NA: Technically, I started my career with LSAs, with the very first one. We were a part of Tariq Amin’s segment. This was something I was very close to, but with time we evolved and so did the event. Over time, I feel the Lux Style Awards have become more like the Lux Awards. The platform celebrates film, fashion, TV, and music – which is amazing and that’s why I attend it every year – but when it comes to style, that is one element that is missing. You cannot use the word ‘style’ for the LSAs anymore. I just feel some people are stuck in the eighties; they are just not growing and they’re stuck in an era where there were only four colours. The canvas is way too big now; the LSAs need to explore themselves.
Instep: Nomi, you’re quite the explorer yourself. Let’s talk vacations and your love for adventure. You’re one to enjoy your holidays and travels. What are the places you love going to for inspiration?
NA: Travelling is something I love and that’s where I think I get all my innovative ideas from. I am always travel ready and I take 4-5 vacations a year, which also includes traveling for work. It’s an eye-opener to see so many cultures, peoples, trends, high-street fashion, eclectic clothing; it all gives me another sort of high.
Usually, it’s anywhere in Europe that I love, but recently, it’s Istanbul which I found to be the most underrated places in the world. It’s beautiful. It’s European yet there’s so much Islamic history and amazing people all around. I am still developing inspiration from the city since it has so much to offer, but I just fell in love with the city when I recently visited it.
Instep: And lastly, what fashion trends do you see for the summer?
NA: Clearly, summer is going to be extremely hot this year, and I see a lot of pastels, solid colours, and whites out there. I see a lot of Irish linen, cotton, and muslin in people’s wardrobe this season. Something which I hope and wish to see less of this season, however, is florals and flower pots and tassels. There’s not going to be a lot of difference in pret and luxury pret this summer and I think there’s going to be a lot of eclectic fashion out there. I think people are pretty aware of fashion and trends and they will be creating amazing ensembles here too. I see a lot of mix and match this time and also because it’s summer, I see something looser, long and comfortable for people this season – something which is more lounge-like.