This year The House of Kamiar Rokni made a comeback to the runway with Moonrise. It was a veritable rise back into the business of fashion for him and it came right after a shakeup at his namesake design house and joining of retail giant Sapphire. Moonrise opened to rave reviews and since then has been tweaked and twisted to take centre stage at many weddings. What works is that the atelier features both the the purely traditional to the utterly bold and Kami caters to women who like both.
When it comes to The House of Kamiar Rokni, every year we await the splendor and hope for greater regularity in showing. This year, the designer shares that being a part of a corporate structure and having timelines to meet means that there’s been a combination of general maturity as a designer and a person.
“The structure has been rejuvenating; not only because it gives a routine but because when you’re creating at the level that one has to for the high street, you get a lot of ideas and they filter into your own work. Besides, you’re surrounded by the young and that’s also very galvanizing,” he says with his quintessential positive outlook.
We wondered whether Kami would build on the admiration received on Moonrise and he confirms that he’ll be showing a luxury pret collection at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week early next year.
“A diffused version of the same aesthetic but more organic and done in a very traditional bohemian way. When people do luxury pret, it tends to be very over rather than under.” He plans to play with muslin, hand-woven cotton, block print, lappa gota. “It will be The House of Kamiar Rokni ethos but in a more relaxed and organic, hippie way. It’s still germinating and being researched so it will evolve but my strength lies in editing so it’ll boil down to how I edit the whole show in the end.” He added, “I’m interested in the millennial girl of today. The idea that I could tap into a new audience with my luxury pret interests me and allows me to explore my bohemian aesthetic, which one can’t do with bridals”.
We discussed the solo show, a growing trend that was started in 2014 when one major designer stepped off the fashion week omnibus. Since then, the trend picked up pace and every designer (who could afford it) dabbled in it, citing reasons like full creative control and it being the “next step”. Kami, however, seems very comfortable with showing at the PFDC fashion weeks.
“I would love to have a solo showing but I think the age of a solo show is gone. If I had one, it would be very elitist but if I could find a way to translate it on social media and use technology in a new way that would be very interesting but I have not felt the need.” He is more interested in solidifying an online presence and selling online. He plans on his luxury pret collection being available online but not having a physical presence. “It’s time to get techy which is how I think I can take it to the next level [rather than doing a solo show] because that’s the evolution that makes sense to me and my brand.”
Does being Design Director at a mass oriented brand mean he has to curtail his creativity? “You have to think about the bottom line, which can mean toning down your aesthetic or making it more user friendly, like any product, but limitations can also be a vehicle for creativity.” He laughs, “I’ve always looked at it like that because ideally I’d love to be living in Venice but I don’t so I make do. Similarly, I make do with the limitations I have as a designer and push within that vocabulary.”
A trade delegation from Belgium visited Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) to explore opportunities for promoting bilateral trade and economic relations between Pakistan and Belgium. Being a supporter of PFDC from the get go, Kami attended the meet and greet but feels that there are very few designers that are modern enough for the western world and we have a long way to go. Kami’s clothes are rooted in culture, tradition and heritage, which he reckons makes them rather costume-like for the western world.
“I don’t think the western world is particularly interested in me and frankly nor am I interested in them. The way the fashion industry is operating world over makes it about zoning in on the niche. I think I’m too much of an homage to 70s’ YSL, which is not what’s happening there. The west is essentially a black mini skirt with a motorcycle jacket and a really cool shoe,” he laughs.
Showing abroad, having international exhibitions is not what’s on his mind. He’s more in touch with the younger generation, how they spend their money online and what they want and this has a lot to do with being at Sapphire. “I want a girl to be able to afford a House of Kamiar Rokni jora and not break the bank and still be cool and effortless. There’s a certain sense of discipline and galvanization where you have to be responsible and sensible which can also inform your aesthetic not just your person.”
The wheels for change, nay evolution, are set in motion and one feels it’s a good time to be Kamiar Rokni.