MAHGUL is critically acclaimed as one of the subcontinent’s most exciting fashion brands led by powerhouse creative director Mahgul Rahsid’s edgy, avant garde interpretation of Pakistani design. The brand has been nominated four times in a row for Pakistan’s premier fashion honour. She is clearly the most exciting designer of her generation and we managed to catch up with her exclusively and talk about her inspirations, designs and collaboration with Sapphire.
You are one of the most elusive yet creative designers of your generation. Why do you refuse to self-promote in an industry where clothes sell by a name?
I guess I want to question that very notion. It’s always going to be creative thought, skill and craft for me and this concept of aspirational consumption for a person over a product has its limitation. I remain at the back allowing the work to come forth instead of engaging with media for self-celebration constantly. I’m trying to, at a slower pace, make a name for Mahgul the brand and thankfully it is working. My clientele knows what a Mahgul design is.
How do you balance your fast fashion aesthetic with your bespoke couture?
Fast fashion suits my hyper creative self; where I get to make and create at a pace that’s more me. The couture is for the part I have inside which likes to engage with artisans and craftsman to enable their skill to be pushed to go beyond what’s being done- it takes time and therefore I have separated these. In my thought and way of work.
Sapphire is said to have grown exponentially since your appointment as creative director. Walk us through some of the new features and innovations you brought in.
Many people ask me about Sapphire and Sapphire’s growth. I always tell them I hardly have time to do that yet. It’s taken me just the past few months to gain an understanding and in many ways to do damage control – there has been a lot of work done at the back end. I have been engaging with the designers to reboot completely and we have been trying our level best to maintain designs and quantity for the existing stores. Alongside, I remain questioning the commodity which is unstitched lawn, the future of fast fashion in the Pakistani economy, and my premise as an artist. It is a new role that’s going to take some time to grow on Sapphire and me. You’ll see by next year.
You introduced the Sapphire seed bags in August which received thunderous applause. What was your philosophy in doing so?
The seed bag and many similar initiatives will continue to be introduced at Sapphire. We have a huge role to play to fix the environment. I tell my designers to also be conscious about design. We don’t want to waste fabric, we don’t want to be encouraging the use of plastic. I believe Sapphire can have a voice that goes beyond telling someone what sort of clothes they should wear. I am trying to define the tone of the voice.
What in your opinion need to change or evolve for fashion in Pakistan?
We need to grow; grow in our mind, grow in accepting that there are all types of people. We need to evolve ourselves and see the strength of fashion.
A Mahgul outfit always stands out for being signature and unique. What is your design inspiration?
I have always designed with the thought process to make something that has a point of view. Bridals and formals are quite expensive and the reason for someone willing to pay that expense is for them to able to tell that someone has poured their honesty into it. If I’m taking the role of a designer it needs to show the perspective of a designer and not just ordinary mimics.
The Mahgul woman always stands out and always feels she owns the crowd.
In a unique move you brought Kamiar Rokni on board with you as a close collaborator recently. Do you think designers can work together towards a common vision or does the creative/competitive conflict bring challenges?
Of course collaboration is everything for me. Strength doesn’t lay in saying one is incomparable or that one doesn’t need anyone else. Strength to me, is in embracing and accepting.
The role of creative director required me to direct the right people to come together to provide the best possible fashion in Pakistan. Kami is for me, someone that the fast fashion retail market needs. He’s a consciously creative person and strives for making and defining Pakistani fashion. I’m more than happy that our consumers at fashion get a feel for his skill and mind. I hope I can bring more creative minds together.
The industry acknowledges that you have built a team of young, fresh and exciting talent at Sapphire that do not just include fashion designers. Tell us more about your team.
I’m very proud of the Sapphire design team. We have a whole team of fine artists as well as designers. This is just a start to nurture the Sapphire design team and Sapphire the brand to think and create holistically. It’s hardly been 8 months but it’s a great beginning.
What is your vision for high street retail in Pakistan?
To actually define what high street fashion is. To go beyond the phenomenon of what we all have been delving in to which is unstitched lawn. It’s a direction that has started, I want to define what Pakistani fashion is in a global context.