One of the pioneer designers of our country, Shamaeel Ansari’s name is synonymous with elegance and grandeur. She has been creating bespoke ensembles with flattering cuts for women since 37 years. Her couture is an interesting blend of contemporary and vintage with rich embroideries.
According to Shamaeel, she has always been inclined towards designing. “The first outfit I designed was a culture-inspired original and one of its kind unique outfit.” Her brand ‘The House of Shamaeel’ was launched in a Charity Show in August, 1987 in London. In the ’90s, she did a series of shows that were performed on location against historical backgrounds. These include Hindu Gymkhana, and ‘The Orient Express’, held at the City Station, Karachi. To date, she has done 200 shows on national and international level including England, U.S.A, Thailand, Philippines, Turkey, Rome and Emirates. Shamaeel has been the Chairperson of the Fashion Pakistan Council and has also done exports and designing for international brands.
“I am the only designer that has done solo shows with stories inspired by history and culture in magnificent historical locations. I have credited some of the most exotic solo shows held to date in the UK also,” elucidates Shamaeel who is a graduate in Finance and Corporate Law from the University of California in Berkeley.
“My philosophy of design is based on perfection. I pay attention to details - each stitch matters. All this adds up to what is a work of art. My clothes reflect modernity with an unmistakable link to the essence of Pakistani culture. We are renowned for our intricate hand embroideries,” expresses Shamaeel.
Shamaeel has regarded The Blue Tulip and Symposium of Queens as her best shows. The Blue Tulip, drew on the Turkish influences that have been a major inspiration to the designer through her career, was showcased in Karachi in 2017 whereas Symposium of Queens was a period collection held in London in 2019.
In unique colour tones, Shamaeel bridal wear speaks eloquently of designer’s fine taste and creativity. “Since wedding is a special occasion we at House of Shamaeel, make customised bridal dresses. Brides-to-be call to take appointments with me. We discuss in detail their wedding theme and then we design the dress according to their specifications and personality,” explains Shamaeel.
“My bridal wear is different from the rest in the sense that I use an array of colours from the red family like maroon, vermilion, plum ivory, and others. As a result, the colour palette is understated, yet strong, earthy and elegant. The deep colours are set off with contrasting fawns and burnished gold. Over all, the colours are potent, yet give a muted and soft approach to the whole collection for brides,” she elaborates.
Shamaeel is one of the early designers in Pakistan to have chartered international markets and resources. She has worked across a network of international trade fares such as Market Week NYC, Heimtex Germany, and Magic U.S.A which led her to bring Donna Karen to Pakistan while developing products for companies such as Club Monaco, Canada and Eddie Bauer. These, among other associations, continue to catapult her brand both as a highly exportable product and, for countless international clients, a highly revered occasion.
According to Shamaeel, to be innovative you need to be passionate. “I would like to say that sustainability in any business or any brand has to do if there has been uniqueness in the brand and there have been customers who have been with you for years. My brand is 37 years old and it speaks for itself. And in order to keep things going, you need to be innovative. In all these years, my passion has taken me to places. I am always inspired to do more and more. We have given designs for exports for companies like Donna Karen, Eddie Bauer and a lot of other companies,” she shares.
“We are now also doing interiors of homes and we make exquisite tapestry and upholstery. We are the brand that has grown and grown and we also work with exports. So, if you are a good brand and you keep your uniqueness and you have customers all the time, you should always move forward,” she adds.
“As a Pioneer designer of Pakistan since 1987, I have been on social media from the time it became relevant. It is one place where everybody is exposed. The truth comes forward; you can see that hey, this is a copy of so and so. You can turn around and see that this just does not make any sense; you can say this is full of life and beauty, so this is something that will bring forth a lot of things. And perhaps it is the time when every designer should be on social media. Times are changing, you cannot afford to remain aloof, join the bandwagon and show it to the world how creative and brilliant you can be.”
In today’s world there are schools for fashion degrees, go and get fashion degrees. Keep researching all international and local designers and then turn around and see where your passion lies; what kind of product you want to do - if it’s high-end, just shirts, pants or mass producing. Do what you are good at. You need to start with that one product and then things will move forward with time. We also entertain young and aspiring designers to come and do internships at our studio.
How old you were when you became obsessed with makeup?
Actually, I am not obsessed with makeup at all.
When stepping out, do you wear makeup all the time?
No, not all the time but sometimes.
When it comes to cosmetics, which brand do you usually use?
It’s M.A.C and Chanel most of the time. Also some of Bobbi Brown products.
What’s in your beauty bag?
It has lipstick, blush-on, mascara, eyeliner, and a small bottle of perfume.
You go-to lipstick:
Burning love by M.A.C.
When applying makeup, what do you dread the most?
Haha. I think it’s eyeliner for every one of us.
Do you go to a salon regularly for your facials?
Yes, I do. Taking care of your skin is important.
Your favourite international stylist or beautician:
Your go-to place for hair and makeup?
Mehar Salon and Saman Salon.
Coco Mademoiselle and Gabrielle Chanel Essence.
Your beauty regimen?
Rinse your face with water and do not sleep with any makeup on.
Do you use anti-aging creams?
I believe to use organic stuff more.
Do you believe in treatments like Botox?
No, I don’t.
What’s your idea of makeup?
I prefer good skin with a minimal amount of makeup.
Where do you go for your makeup shopping?
What is beauty to you?
I think it lies within.