Saleha Kashif is the name of the woman behind the dresses that are taking over the bridal scene this winter. A graduate from Home Economics College Lahore, Saleha although has no formal fashion degree but a vibrant knack for imagination which has enabled her to make a mark in such a short period of time. Social Diary’s correspondent Nudrat Mustafa spoke to the charming designer Saleha Kashif who exposed to us the exquisite ways in which she gets enthused, insight on her collections, advice every bride should take, and what is on the horizon for her and her brand.
How and when did you start out in fashion design and bridal wear?
I was always fascinated by distinct style aesthetics. My interest in fashion design went into full swing when I moved to Karachi. I started experimenting with new colours and styles on myself. My friends and family loved what I was doing and I started designing for them out of my house. The response was overwhelmingly great and this is how my business started flourishing.
Can you talk a bit about your design process, from start to finish?
Every outfit from my bespoke collection starts off as a hand-drawn illustration which I personally curate with precise attention to detail. Initially I meet with the client to talk about what their requirement and vision is for a certain design. We talk about colours, fabric, shapes, and cuts which is later translated into individually detailed drawings. Then the sampling process comes in. I personally monitor each process and once I approve the sample, we send the designs into production.
Who, what and where inspires you?
Most of my designs take inspiration from old-world glamour particularly from the Mughal era blended with contemporary fashion. I am drawn to striking silhouettes and enchanting colour palettes which reflect in all my creations. There’s a lot fusion going on in terms of traditional embroidery and embellishments in my work. At the end of the day, I aim to create designs that are both subtle and intricate in nature.
What are bridal dos and don’ts?
For brides it’s all about harmonizing traditional aesthetics with modern silhouettes. Whatever a bride adorns on her big day should have a traditional touch. I believe in playing safe for such moments and tend to be a little apprehensive while experimenting with cutting-edge designs. Another no-no for me is gaudy accessories that steals thunder from your bridal wear. Don’t let your jewellery overpower your ensemble. If your dress has lots of intricate details as it is, opt for simpler pieces. Subtlety is key for creating a sublime look.
How are you supporting local artisans?
Our workforce comprises of skilled craftsmen who are masters of this trade and have literally inherited this skill. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship; we are giving them opportunity and a platform to fuse their artwork with our signature style. They are not only earning a livelihood but are becoming experts in artistry.
Do you have a personal favourite style of bridal gown, and if so, why?
I love our traditional bridal wear. Be it long shirts with Lehengas or short shirts with Ghararas. Elaborate bridal pieces with trails will always have my stamp of approval and appeal to me the most.
Which other designers inspire you the most, and why?
I definitely draw inspiration from iconic names in our local industry who have pretty much reinvented the fashion landscape. There are a number of designers who have been globally acclaimed like Neelofer Shahid and Bunto Kazmi. Internationally speaking, labels like Ellie Saab, Dior, and Ralph and Russo are my personal favourites.
What do you like to do when you’re not designing?
Apart from my work routine, I like spending quality time with my family and friends. I love travelling so whenever it’s possible I indulge in some globetrotting and go for a short vacation.
Why is it important for you to produce your dresses in limited quantities?
We produce around 2-15 numbers of each design. There is where our element of distinctiveness lays and makes every creation special. It’s somewhat nice to know that only a few others have the same dress as you and one won’t run into someone who’s wearing a mass-produced item. An overload of repetitive ensemble kills the purpose of exclusivity and luxury. We put a lot of emphasis on craftsmanship and originality as I want women to appreciate the expertise that goes into making her outfit.
What can we look forward to seeing from you next?
At the moment, our spring/summer collection is under way. You’ll see a fusion of modern cut lines in tandem with embroideries and use of exclusive materials. We are also working on our new bridal and formal collection so that’s something I’m very excited to unveil.
Finally, if you had any words of wisdom to pass on to a Bride-to-be looking for the perfect wedding dress, what would they be?
When you start looking for your perfect dress, simply be true to yourself and your personality. To find a dress that’s the perfect fit, it is essential to understand what body shape you are. Choosing cuts which suit your body shape and flatters your figure will obviously give you more confidence and add flair to your whole look.