Spotlight: We're not just a skinny girl brand, says designer Mahgul RashidPakistan
Remember that striking embellished skirt and top Humaima rocked at a Dekh Magar Pyaar Hai event recently? And that edgy red and white outfit Mahira wore at a Bin Roye promotion?
They were both by design house Mahgul.
Though Mahgul burst onto the scene just two years ago, it's made a significant impact on the fashion market. From unconventional cuts to artistic embroideries, the design house focuses on experimenting not just with its silhouettes but also techniques. With a very straightforward design philosophy, the brand continues to grow as its first concept studio just opened up in Lahore, and it's also part of the line-up for PFDC L’Oréal Paris Bridal Week 2015 this September.
Mahgul Rashid, the creative head of Mahgul, was at hand at the studio's open house to talk about the brand's future – which is nicely encapsulated by the interiors around us.
The concept of the studio is three-fold, with a section to browse through the entire collection, a bridal cube and a designated section for appointments. There is a particular rawness to the the space that brings the focus to the clothes.
From textured grey floors to sleek racks, the studio is anything but what you would expect from a typical studio. The simplicity of the interiors complements the intricacy on the clothes and rather than becoming a overwhelming experience, the space creates a harmonious balance that makes the client comfortable in their surroundings.
"I wanted an unfinished, industrial feel to the studio so it would complement the ornateness of the clothes," says Rashid. "It is all about a personalized shopping experience where my clients not only get to see the process we undergo in making the clothes but I get to interact with them and get a feel of what will not only suit their body type but their personality also."
While most designers are looking into retail stores, this young brand opted for a studio instead. "We are a very young brand and I feel a studio allows for us to develop the foundation of a retail store in the future. But for now I am very happy working out of the space we have created," explains Rashid. While she stocks at multiple multi-label stores across the country, Rashid feels retail is very impersonal and in order to grow as a design house it is imperative to be hands-on with the clients. "This is where I will be creating the foundation of a retail store eventually," she says.
An artist by training, Rashid opens up about some of the most challenging aspects of having a design house, admitting: "As cliched as it might sound, the most challenging aspect is finding out what women want. I am so set in my ways that it is challenging to break people's notions about clothes and styles, getting them to try on something new and different is what challenges me the most."
While understanding what women want, the brand is becoming known as a 'skinny girl' brand, something which the designer gently refutes. "This is a notion out there but we actually cater to all sorts of body types," she says. "I can see where this comes from, at the moment I am the only one designing the silhouettes and so the experimental cuts stem from what I would wear. "As the brand grows and we have more designers on our team the range of silhouettes will also become diverse."
As the premise of the design house stems from the designer's background in fine art, she feels it is hard for her to do something typical. "I constantly want to innovate and try to keep my designs fresh and that is what keeps me going," she says. "My clients understand the kind of aesthetic the brand has but I am very honest with my input, if I feel a certain silhouette will not suit a particular body type I will explain it to the client and that has worked out well for me so far."
Rashid also feels that because the brand experiments with different techniques, it keeps her artisans on their toes and interested in the design process. "This is the biggest compliment for a designer: when the artisans who are actually translating the designs onto the fabric remain interested and willing to try new things. I want to be known as an artist in their field rather than just a designer and that is what drives me to create something unique for my clients."
After this milestone, what's next on the horizon for Mahgul?
"One thing I do know," says Rashid, "is that whenever we open up a retail outlet it will be a concept store rather than just a store."