Designer Focus: Ali Xeeshan

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It’s difficult for me to be a blogger. While others scour the world for ideas, I feel like I have too many of them. There are countless books I have read; numerous places I have traveled to; and lists of favorite designers that I’d like to include here, but don’t have the time to write about. Sometimes I plan ideas for blog posts so far in advance that I forget to include some of my present ideas. I was reminded of one Pakistani designer I forgot to mention in my previous posts early on. The purpose of this blog is to impart knowledge to my readers and shed light on current issues, talented authors, artistic designers in the world and give travel tips to travel fiends among you, but I digress. Today, I will only talk about Pakistan’s premier designer, Ali Xeeshan.

I used to be a regular viewer of Nida Yasir’s Good Morning Pakistan on ARY Digital. Among the usual fiasco that is her show, she keeps her viewers posted about new trends in Pakistan’s fashion and beauty industry and informs us about established and upcoming designers. Her delivery is questionable but by Pakistan’s standards, the program was quite instructional at the time. Now being a blogger myself, I have found other means to keep abreast with the industry trends than suffer through two hours of unorganized televised programming. Anyways, Ali Xeeshan was one of the featured designers on her show and I was all ears.

My Introduction To Ali Xeeshan

I am not sure why I didn’t hear about Ali Xeeshan before. This was back in 2012 so social media in Pakistan was still a budding concept. And at the time, I was developing a fashion identity myself and knew of a handful of designers such as Bunto Kazmi, Sana Safinaz, Maria B., and that’s about it.

What struck me first about him on that show was his flamboyant appearance and demeanor. It was grand, avant-guard, edgy, and daring like Donatella Versace or Alexander McQueen. He had on an all-black outfit with giant, black spectacles that Sylvia Weinstock’s is known for. I believe he had a cane and earrings too (????). I could tell he was an artist, not just part of a business. But that’s just the way I am – a different soul so to speak. I am more curious about the designer and his life story than his/her product. I am like that with everything. It’s fun to learn what influences are behind an artist’s painting, sculpture, a building’s architecture or in this case a bridal outfit and seek it out as I view the piece. To me it builds an invisible relationship with the creator of the piece and that creation itself becomes more meaningful.

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Being raised in the United States, I wasn’t turned off by his appearance, but rather it made me curious. Once I moved passed his appearance I focused on his designs and was even more impressed. His work reflects the most ornate and stylized fashion in Pakistan’s industry. I definitely picked up on Mughal and Rajasthani influences in his modern designs. The models, who looked like Ali Xeeshan’s version of dolls had on jewelry designed by him and the whole collection looked appropriate for a coronation party of a Mughal prince. So is he different and if he is how is he different from the great Bunto Kazmi who specializes in Mughal bridal designs?

What Stands Ali Xeeshan Apart?

In my humble opinion, he is quite different. Bunto Kazmi’s embroidery is superb, but she sticks to traditional and conservative silhouettes and cuts in her designs. Her designs remind of Mughal queens whereas Ali Xeeshan’s designs are fit for a young Mughal princess. While Bunto Kazmi’s embroidery is bar none, the originality of her work lies in her embroidery and her embroidery designs, not her cuts and silhouettes. Another difference prominent is the use of color. Bunto Kazmi sticks mostly sticks to two to three colors, while Ali Xeeshan isn’t afraid to splash his lenghas and dupattas with a fusion of loud colors.

Ali Xeeshan’s genius also lies in how he incorporates and styles traditional embroidery in more edgier cuts and ways. He designs include tiered ghararas (an original idea, I think), loud lenghas with simply modern cholis, tiered peshwas, and everything in between including worked shawls and chaaders. His bold designs and color combinations are for those fashionistas who know how to make a bold and striking impression at a gathering. An Ali Xeeshan lengha with one of his gota and kirin dupattas could be a festive option for your Mehndi, while the subtle elegance of Bunto Kazmi should be reserved for your Baraat or Valima. I think you could even get away with being brash in one of his gharara pieces at your mehndi.

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Another aspect of Ali Xeeshan I enjoy is his social messages on his runway shows and in advertisement campaigns. So besides learning about trending Ali Xeeshan collections, you get informed of social issues important to the designer. Just last year he highlighted the important issue of child marriages through his bridal collection “Khaamoshi”. A good cause mixed with impeccable work shows what a noble man he is indeed.

He is quite exclusive. He hasn’t advertised much of his contact details on his social media pages and he doesn’t have a website. So most of his work I have seen is on two-dimensional screens. From his runway shows and pictures, I can tell his embroidery is definitely another amazing facet of his clothes. He revives a lot of traditional work much like Bunto Kazmi. But he adds elements like pearls, stones, tilla work, along with threadwork intricately embroidered together on high-quality fabric. His designs like his personality and silhouettes are unique as well – a lotus flower here, a bird there, whatever the motif is, it is part of a story scattered throughout the collection.

Like Bunto Kazmi and other hard-working and high-paying production design houses, he doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay a minimum of Rs. 3.5+. However, if you love Ali Xeeshan as a person and want to look different during your wedding events, add a Ali Xeeshan piece or two to your trousseau or personal designer collection. You will stand out from the crowd at each gathering. Happy Shopping!!

 

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