The first thing that strikes one about Urooj Fahad is her aura of calm efficiency. She is friendly and patient and has the knack of making the client feel at ease. Urooj has been in the designing business for 15 years and launched her label in 2010. “I started casually for family and friends around about 15 years ago. My friends in college would order clothes that I wore, but professionally I started almost a decade ago,” she shares. She has a home-based studio in Karachi. She is innovative and creative and believes in experimenting with materials, colours, cuts and designs. These days Urooj is working on a bridal collection for the coming wedding season starting from October.
What is your design philosophy?
To customise each design according to the body type, so that the person wearing it can own it with comfort and confidence.
When did you first exhibit your collection?
My first professional exhibition was in Lahore at a multi-designer store, along with other designers. But before my exhibition, I had been lending my dresses to morning shows hosts and models like Maya Khan, Fia, etc. I used to get orders from ex-pat women who watched the shows. Since then I have done successful exhibitions locally and internationally. My exhibition in Dubai got me clients from India and Bangladesh.
What type of clothes do you design for women?
I design eastern, western and fusions. My clothes are practical and wearable. I don’t believe in too much embellishment and go for trendy, smart cuts and styles.
Why do you think women should wear designer clothes?
Why shouldn’t women wear clothes that are designed by the professionals who know their business and can come up with clothes that flatter their personality and make them look good? When you know you are wearing good clothes, your confidence level increases! Seeing my clients pleased wearing my brand makes me happy and encourages me to work harder each day.
What was the first outfit that you designed?
It happened in my university days. I wore something that a friend liked, and asked me to make it for her. That was just the beginning, on a modest scale, of course, but some of my loyal and regular clients are those for whom I designed during my university days.
How would you define your own sense of style?
Elegant, classy and pastels.
What is your signature embellishment and fabric choice?
Zardozi and Aari work. We use only pure fabrics.
What is the inspiration behind your latest collection?
Nature! If you look around, you will observe the colour combinations that are so inspiring. Some combinations are common but then there are unique colour combinations, too.
Do you prefer sketching designs or actually constructing them?
For me, it is sketching dozens of designs and constructing them in my mind before actually constructing them. I first visualise, then sketch. After that comes the process of colour selection, trial and error and final construction. I am old-fashioned in my approach. Without paper and pen, I just can’t do.
What seasonal looks and colours are you expecting this season?
Loose kurtas with fine, intricate details and pastels.
In your opinion what is the biggest mistake a person can make while dressing here?
Seeing celebrities’ pictures and then trying to look like them while ignoring their body type. Not everyone can be size zero. All sizes are beautiful if accepted with confidence. Recently, a client saw Katrina Kaif’s wedding photos and wanted the sari like hers. I had to explain gently it would not suit her because of the obvious difference in the body types.
What is the one piece of clothing that you shy away from wearing and why?
Anything with a trail. I am a person who is always on her toes and I prefer clothes in which I can walk fast.
What are the difficulties faced by designers in getting their work done?
There is no business that comes without difficulty. One difficulty – and the most important one, I am sure – is inflation. At the time of booking, the price of materials is different but sometimes prices go up, but the client does not always understand, and wants us to honour the price agreed upon. Then there are unforeseen circumstances: the karigar may develop health issues, unexpected rain or disruption due to circumstances beyond my control.
What are the high points and low points of being a designer?
Oh, there are so many high points. I always have new wardrobe according to the season. Also, in the designing business, you get to socialise frequently and get appreciated.
One of the low points is that people expect you to dress stylishly at all times. Your casuals need to be elegant, as you are judged on what you wear.
How long does it take to design an outfit?
It depends on the type of design. A casual sketch can take three to five days. For formals, it takes longer, sometimes, even weeks. Because with formals, measurements according to cut and fabric have to be perfect as they cannot come for trial fittings. For them, I have to make a calligo, which is a dress made of inexpensive cloth, to ensure that measurements are correct.
Do you think there is potential for new designers in our fashion industry?
There is a lot of potentials for new designers. Fresh talent means fresh ideas, which is always great. The most important thing for new designers wanting to create a niche for themselves is persistence. Of course, investment is another very important aspect, as returns take very long to materialise and that’s why many promising designers fold up. The key is persistence with firm commitment and loyalty to your client.
How do you manage to strike the right balance between family and work?
My parents and husband supported me a lot when my children were small. I would say I was lucky to have family support, as it got me through the time when my kids were younger. Now they are older and pretty self-sufficient, and understand my nature of work. My married sister could not be there physically to help me, as she doesn’t live in Karachi but supported me morally. In fact, my first shoot in Turkey was conducted by my sister only.
What are your future plans for your brand?
To be more into formals and bridals.
How old you were when you became obsessed with makeup?
I am not, actually. While travelling, I don’t even keep makeup.
What is one cosmetic you cannot do without?
Blush and sunscreen.
When stepping out, do you wear make up all the time?
No, bare skin works for me best with sunscreen.
When it comes to cosmetics, which brand do you usually use?
I don’t have one particular brand.
What’s in your beauty bag?
Few things that I keep in a pouch are lip shade, blush, mascara and sunscreen.
Your go-to lipstick?
Too Faced’s Sold Out.
When applying makeup, what do you dread the most?
That would be the eyeliner spreading and smudging!
Do you go to salon regularly for your facials?
No, I use some serums instead.
Your favourite local beautician:
Your favourite international beautician:
Your preferred spa or salon?
Joie’s Salon & Spa.
Gucci’s Flora right now, but I keep switching.
Your beauty regimen?
Hyaluronic acid serum, Vitamin C serum daily and Retinol once a week. I also apply sunscreen.
Do you use anti-aging creams?
My daily skin regimen takes care of that.
Do you believe in treatments like Botox?
Not for myself, but each to their own.
Full makeup or a good skin with minimal makeup?
I believe in taking care of my skin, staying hydrated as it soothes and heals skin. I don’t like too much makeup.
Where do you go for your make-up shopping?
I get my stuff from abroad.
Do you use whitening creams?
No, I don’t do use whitening creams and don’t think they are good.
What is beauty to you?
Being confident in your own skin and of yourself.