Designer Focus: Khadija Shah


Khadija Shah attributes her love for fashion to her mother, Aneela. She shed light on how Elan and Sapphire came into being in a recent interview. According to Khadija, her mother owned her own atelier, Ela, and would take her and her sister to shops where they would pick fabrics and embellishments and made outfits she deemed “better than any boutique”. I myself remember doing this before the explosion of designer houses in Pakistan made it really easy for us visiting guests and/or working women. There was something inspiring about walking the narrow lanes of Karachi in the heat in search of fabric, laces, and buttons to mimic the latest trends in fashion.

After completing her Bachelors in Science with honors at the London School of Economics, Khadijah returned to Pakistan and started setting a vision for expanding her mother’s atelier, which is now known as Elan. Elan today is synonymous with elegance, opulence and luxury. Established in 2006, the fashion powerhouse earned early success because of its intricately detailed and luxurious evening and bridal wear and tastefully done body-conscious silhouettes.


As the creative director of Elan, Khadijah is respected for her combination of intricate embellishments, western silhouettes and scrutiny for details. Each collection is conceived with glamour, elegance and versatility in mind. Elan is acclaimed for their taste in subtle pastel shades in bridal that rely more on the heavy gold or silver thread work and embellishments rather than the fabric colors. This approach is quite different than any Lahori designer because Lahoris love to play with bright colors. Maybe that’s why people flock to her designs because they stand apart from the rest of the design houses.

In March 2012, Khadijah launched her debut seasonal unstitched printed lawn collection which is now considered the most anticipated lawn in Pakistan each season. In 2014, Elan added to its portfolio Elan Vital, a casual avant-garde ready to wear diffusion line and also officially launched an e-store where customers from across the globe can purchase Élan’s Luxury Prét Collection and Élan Vital. In a short span of ten years, Khadijah has expanded her label and created an effective and influential place for Elan in the fashion industry.

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The design house was founded in Lahore in Khadija’s parents’ home and now since reached global heights. Just recently she represented Pakistan in Germany and also showcased her designs at the SOS Children’s Village Pakistan Fashion Show & Gala Dinner in London.  The brand is preferred by those who settle for nothing less than international standards of quality and stitching detail in their eastern wear. The design team labors over every detail of their creations, employing intricate hand-stitching as well as other classic and modern techniques. The brand is really influenced by international fashion. Modern or traditional, heavily worked or elegantly embellished, haute couture or ready to wear prêt; everything designed in Elan is timeless and beautiful, season after season.

Besides designing for Elan, Khadija is also the Creative Director of Sapphire. Her collaboration with the affordable and accessible brand in 2015 was well received by the masses. The collection consisted of cambric short shirts and pants. All the shirts had lovely prints and the pants were beautifully machine embroidered with threads and different fabrics like organza. Khadijah’s aesthetics are clearly reflected in the brand’s merchandise and consumers can notice that besides intricate bridal wear, she has a knack for printed designs as well. There are brightly colored tunics that are representative of Lahori culture. Her creativity is reflected in block printing, wildly printed cotton, and digitally printed silk tunics with buttons, tassels and embroidered detailing such as ships and netting. She adds her personal touch with florals and geometrics such as bold lines as well as fun prints of vases and flocks of butterflies. I am always in awe when I visit their store.

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If you like a unique and well-defined look for your wedding, then do consider Elan for your big day. If you are in the market for some colorful spring/summer pret-wear, then consider Sapphire. You won’t be disappointed. Happy Shopping!