Bollywood stars and billionaires have a new couture favourite in Pakistani designer Faraz Manan
It's a fashion invasion
Last Diwali, Jacqueline Fernandez brought traffic to a grinding halt when she stepped out in a racy red sari—halter neckline playing up those toned shoulders—instantly landing herself on every best-dressed list the Internet whipped up. Pakistani designer Faraz Manan could not have orchestrated a glitzier invasion of our celebrity focused fashion appetite if he’d tried. One of the most beloved couturiers from across the border, Manan has attracted Saudi sheikhas, the Al-Thani royal family of Qatar and Pakistan’s millionaires to his fold over the last 15 years. But his new-found fame in India can be almost singularly attributed to one mega influencer: Kareena Kapoor Khan. The label’s brand ambassador has helped Manan become a household name in the Hindi film industry, with stars from Fernandez to Madhuri Dixit Nene, and even the late Sridevi picking his designs for their red carpet appearances.
ELLE: You have a wonderful friendship with Kareena Kapoor Khan. How did your paths cross?
Faraz Manan: We actually started working with Karisma Kapoor a few years ago, and after a while, we naturally started working with Kareena. The sisters are very close, and are quite similar in terms of their tastes and habits. Kareena and I bond over our traditions, family values and love for food. I recall when we did our very first shoot together in Jaipur, we were both scheduled to leave for home the very next day. Just before boarding, we both realised that we wanted to stay back for another day, relax and indulge in Rajasthani food. So we did. And that’s how we became friends from day one.
Kareena Kapoor Khan
ELLE: You’ve built one of the biggest Pakistani couture labels over the past 15 years. How did you get started on this journey?
FM: I actually studied finance. I had never planned to become a designer, so I don’t have any technical fashion education. I was inspired by watching my mother, Memoona, who started her label as a hobby 18 years ago. It caught my interest and I took over the business.
ELLE: How would you describe your specific oeuvre, and its massive success?
FM: I would call it classic fusion. I love experimenting with the new while designing, but it has to have a classic, timeless appeal. I favour the tailoring techniques of the West and the embroideries of the East—we are very strong in our old-school threadwork techniques, especially Zardosi, which is a craft that our artisans from the subcontinent excel in.
An outfit from Manan’s Mirage line
ELLE: Now that you’ve tasted success on both sides of the border, are there similarities between the demands of your Indian and Pakistani clientele?
FM: Both countries are very similar culturally, but the unique point about the women in Pakistan is their classic, conservative approach, whereas in India, the audience is more experimental, and bold in their use of colour and cuts.
An outfit from Manan’s Lumiere line
ELLE: What can we look forward to from the Faraz Manan label?
FM: At the moment, we’re the only couture brand from the subcontinent to have a flagship store in Dubai, and that was a major step for us to grow the label—not just in the Gulf but globally, in a way that’s organic and not a passing fad. We’re also expanding into lifestyle, especially interiors. I would also love to present my collection in India, whenever the logistics allow us to do so. For the time being, I am doing shows in Dubai, which makes it easy for all my Indian, Pakistani and Arab clients to come together to see my work.