Amna Sheikh, the most recent winner of the Bank Alfalah Rising Talent PSFW’17 Edition, is one designer that the industry has to watch out for! We were fortunate enough to get an exclusive and in-depth insight into in her collection for Bank Alfalah Rising Talent’17 and her journey from a fashion design student to emerging victorious on one of the biggest platform for fashion in Pakistan.
1) What is your education background?
I gave my Matriculation exams from Divisional Public School(Sciences) but later realized I had a knack for for arts and then chose to do F.A. in Fine arts from Kinnaird College, Lahore. For under-grad, I went to Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design (PIFD) and specialized in Fashion Design.
2) How did you decide to go in fashion?
I was interested in arts since childhood but the things that inspired me the most were fashion illustrations. I used to reproduce illustrations of different artists and soon developed a strong love for design and Fashion. Then PIFD happened. The rest, as they say, is history.
3) About the collection, what is its name and inspiration?
The name of my collection is Rivaj-e-Virasat. The objective was to bring the forgotten cultural silhouettes of Pakistan back, and in a way that makes them contemporary yet wearable. I believe that you don’t necessarily have to follow western fashion and silhouettes to look modern. The beauty is in redecorating what you already have and making it into something that nobody else possesses.
4) What were the design elements incorporated?
I realized that traditional Pakistani silhouettes are worn only as in formals. I wanted to incorporate the traditional silhouettes and elements in casual wear and to make it more comfortable, opted to make garments out of denim. I used different shades of denim with gold Tila and Gota embellishments. For the Saari and shalwar I used silk, which had a digitally printed denim texture on it. Chunky gold tassels was the detailing added to perfect the outfits.
5) How did the Bank Alfalah Rising Talent team get in touch? What was your first reaction like?
Every year Bank Alfalah selects the top performers in thesis from the Fashion Design department at PIFD . So everyone works hard that year, hoping to get selected for the showcase. Maria B and Kamiar Rokni – prominent designers and part of the Pakistan Fashion Design Council of Pakistan-were the jurors at the time we presented our thesis. Therefore, they were well familiarized with everybody’s work in detail and selected students for Bank Alfalah Rising Talent entirely on merit and consultation with our teachers and coordinators. It’s a very fair and square process.
I was sitting in my office [at Generation] when I got the call from team Bank Alfalah. At first, I couldn’t believe that they picked me out of so many talented people! I was overwhelmed!
6) What were the events leading up to the show like?
One word to summarize it all: hectic.
After I got the call from Bank Alfalah I was told to show my thesis portfolio and garments to Mrs. Saigol and the PFDC panel. 22 graduates from PIFD were called by and when we arraived at the interview venue a shock awaited us: Unlike the previous times, we were not going to showcase our thesis collection at the show but were supposed to make a whole new collection comprising four garments, that was wearable and salable in the Pakistani market.
At first, I had my back to the wall since I was also working full-time at Generation. But I had not come that far, to only come that far. All the candidates made sample garments within the given time limit and presented them to the panel. Out of all the 22 students, four- including me- were selected and assigned mentors to guide us.
My mentor was Maria B. I am truly thankful to her for giving direction to my vague ideas and guiding on making the collection more market friendly without killing the creativity.
Finally, the collection was presented to Mrs. Saigol and the panel. After approval on the garments we started working on accessories and props. Everything was completed a few days before the show and thankfully, we had enough time for some last minute changes.
Other than the whole production process, we had to shoot Social Media promotion videos for Bank Alfalah as well. There was a video of our introduction and another one with our mentors.
In retrospect, the whole experience was worth all the efforts. Great for enhancing our learning curve as designers!
7) What is your personal style and how did it influence your collection for Bank Alfalah?
I mix and matches separates and prefer to keep things classic and timeless. Sometimes I give my look a more contemporary update by keep details such as cuts, textures, patterns, colors and accessories on-trend. My collection for the Bank Alfalah Rising Talent’17 was thus, a reflection of my personal style.
8) Who did you feel was a strong contender in this year’s Rising Talent?
I feel like all the contenders this year were very strong. There was an equal chance of winning for everybody. All four collections were very different from each other and very strong in their own way.
9) What was your winning moment like? Please share your sentiments.
The Rising talent showcase was on Day 1 of PSFW’17. The contestants then had a day and a half day after that for getting the votes in so that the results could be announced at the end of Day 3. Unlike previous years there was no online voting this time. Votes were only casted at the Bank Alfalah booth set up at the venue of the show.
After the Ali Xeeshan finale on day 3, the crowd was told to gather at the Bank Alfalah booth for the winner announcement. There was a panel at the ceremony including Kamiar Rokni, Saad Ali and many others, who also had a cheque and the winning trophy.
In minutes our friends, family, the media and the paperzzi gathered around the booth. The moment they announced my name as the winner was the happiest moment of my life! Fortunately, I’m very good friends with the 3 other contenders and this win came as a source of happiness for them too- making it all the more special for me!
10) Now that you’ve won, what do you plan to do with the prize money?
I’m going to invest this money in making more collections and starting up my own business soon!
11) Are you also taking orders? How can customers reach you?
Yes, I’m taking orders! Customers can order through social media or reach me on my number.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Amna-Sheikh-1131250773669901/
12) What did you wear on PSFW’17?
I wore black harem pants paired with a black crop top. The look on day one had to be comfortable since there was a lot of work to be done backstage.
I wore a piece that was an extension of my collection Rivaj-e-Virasat: a flared jumpsuit with Angrakha-inspired neckline made in denim. It had ‘Aari’ work on its neckline, rendered in Tilla. I further went desi by wearing traditional bangles.
Day 3 was a big day for us as the results were to be announced. I wore a white button down shirt paired with a basic black skirt and stockings. The look on day 3 was more chic and corporate.
13) Lastly, what is your recipe for success? What is your advice for girls out there?
The recipe for success for me is to never give up! Opportunity doesn’t walk upto you, you have to look for opportunities by working hard. My advice to younger people is to not get disappointed by failures and keep working hard.