This January, Pakistan’s ace choreographer and show director Imran Kureishi completed 40 years in the fashion world. He is one of the few established choreographers of the country who have shaped and trained many a novice models. Though he is armed with a degree in chemical engineering and has also studied French Literature, his abilities are best seen in his creative work. Kureishi began his fashion career four decades ago with a simple stage tableau. Since then he has done thousands of shows, including shows for major multi-nationals, government functionaries like the army, navy, PTV, TDAP; Pakistan embassies and missions abroad, and a large number of fashion weeks including FPW, KFW, and IFW.
Kureishi has worked with every major designer and stylist in the country, and he has choreographed shows in numerous countries including US, Canada, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the UAE, Bahrain, Singapore and Uzbekistan on numerous occasions. Kureishi also has to his credit shows done for various dignitaries including the Queen of Bahrain, President of Singapore, Prime Minister of Turkey, Prince of Jordan, and President of Mauritius.
Upon completing his 40 years in the fashion industry Kureishi exclaims, “I feel at the top of the world. It’s a great milestone, and I never thought I would last this long. All in all if I had to do it again I wouldn’t hesitate. I am planning on celebrating my 40 years, but it’s a surprise.”
While remembering the fashion scene in ’80s Kureishi reflects, “At that time the fashion environment was very makeshift; we had to make do with whatever was available. There weren’t too many designers or professional models; we had to rely on whatever was available then. Fast forward, today the fashion world is much more organised and professional today than it was 40 years ago and there has been a lot of progress in every aspect and facet of the fashion industry.”
Kureishi has been single-handedly responsible for introducing and training nearly all the top models in Pakistan. “Iraj Manzoor; Vaneeza Ahmed; Zoella; Rubab Masood; Sunita Marshall and Nadia Hussian are still my favourite models,” proclaims Kureishi. “However, the former models were far more enthusiastic about doing good work and used to put their heart and soul into it. They rehearsed endlessly to get the perfect performance. Today’s models are all about wanting to get highly paid and not putting in that extra effort. My message to upcoming models is to work hard and be sincere to yourself and to your work,” adds Kureishi.
Has technology and fashion weeks changed the fashion scene completely or partially? To this end, Kureishi says, “Too many fashion weeks in each season have weakened fashion by putting too much pressure on the designers in short spans of time. You do not expect flowering and fruiting trees to bring forth flowers or fruits more than once a season.” And we couldn’t agree more.
Kureishi’s talents are not limited to choreography, he is an artist too and the interesting part is that he has never been to an art school. He has a natural flair for the artistic side of things. Kureishi has also dabbled in teaching dance, designing ensembles, stained glass painting, silk painting, and sculpture. It is interesting to note that he was the first one to start stained glass painting in Pakistan. “I had the honour of exhibiting my stained glass collection based on Mughal miniatures at the United Nations NY in 1993. As far as my silk/sari collections are concerned, I have exhibited my own hand painted collections mostly in abroad, not in Pakistan. Presently I do silk painting, which combines my two passions of art and fashion,” informs Kureishi who also owns an amazing collection of masks. While describing his fascination with masks, Kureishi elucidates, “I have a collection of masks that spans as long as my career. I have collected them from all over the world - as near as Sri Lanka and as far as Peru and Guatemala. I believe we all wear masks. We wear different masks for different people; as friends, family, foes, professionals, etc.”
One wonders, what’s the secret of his sustainability in this fickle world of fashion? “Well, my secret of sustainability has been hard work, sincerity, creativity, and punctuality,” Kureishi says with a grin.
The man who has to his credit some dynamic local shows including ‘Kolachi to Karachi’; ‘The Toy Story’; ‘Pajama Party’ and some fantastic shows abroad including four shows for Nilofer Shahid for the Pakistan Embassy in Turkey and ‘Mercedes Benz Fashion Week - Doha - twice a year for four years, is all set to embrace new decade with vigour. “I am working on a lot of international shows in the coming year and I am looking forward to an exciting new decade!”
— Erum Noor Muzaffar