Being a western girl, if twenty years ago anybody would have told Aeliya Hayat that she would be designing a modest clothes line in Pakistan, she would have simply laughed in their face.
Yes, this is how unpredictably her life has changed since then. After she met her husband and accepted Islam, her life took quite a drastic turn. Changing a dressing style was one of the challenges. But she turned this challenge into an advantage. Since sewing and her love for fashion was always among her top interests, she figured why couldn’t modesty and style go together?
It has been a bit more than a year since she moved from New Zealand to Pakistan and is new to Pakistan and the fashion scene here.
After living in different countries, meeting many people from all parts of the world and experiencing multiple cultures, she considers herself as the best example of a fusion between East and West.
Her in this exclusive interview with Fashion Collection, she talks about the launch of her clothing line in Pakistan combining Western cuts and Eastern embellishments with modesty in style.
Fashion Collection: What interests you most about your work?
Aeliya Hayat: I think the whole process of creating an outfit is an exciting journey. First seeing it taking shape on paper, then picking the right fabric and it being put together by a skilled tailor, adding finishing touches and finally when it comes to life and looks the way you thought it would or even better. But the journey doesn’t end there. The real destination and satisfaction is to see a happy client wearing that design that started off on paper.
FC: What are the most critical results you expect from your designs?
AH: I have a very practical approach with my work. Designs should be wearable in accordance to the season and climate without compromising on the wearer looking their best, appropriate to the occasion with some distinct and unique style.
FC: Tell us about your journey of becoming a designer.
AH: My journey of becoming a designer started from a problem. A personal experience of not being able to find the right outfit within religious dress code alongside fashion trends inspired me to create my own style, something that encompasses elegance, modernity and modesty. I respect cultural traditions and the way they enhance any design but at the same time giving it a more international look is my aim.
FC: What are you most passionate about as a designer? Why?
AH: I am passionate about making modest clothes look appealing, stylish, not boring. I’m passionate about women empowerment, confidence and giving each woman an option for how they want to dress. The clothes we wear is more than just a cover of a body, it’s a reflection of who we are. The way we dress affects how we are perceived and what silent statement we make.
FC: How would you describe your personal fashion statement?
AH: fusion of East and West, modesty in style. Basically what I’m trying to incorporate into my own personal line.
FC: If you could change the world, what would you do?
AH: I would increase people’s consciousness and self awareness. To make this world a better place we should become better humans first. True Connection with our Creator should be strengthen and encouraged on individual level as well as a society in whole.
FC: What design inspirations would you like to pass on to future generations?
AH: I believe our world is becoming a global village, cultures get interlaced with one another, this new era teaches us more tolerance and acceptance. Rapid development of technology breaks all borders, be that good or bad. New generations will experience a very interesting time ahead full of challenges and blessings. All said above will be reflected in future designs, and in the present moment we lay a foundation for it. My designs are meant to show how East and West can coexist in beautiful synergy and how we can learn and adopt good things from every culture. My designs are a way of putting differences aside and coming together as one.
FC: How do you rate Pakistan fashion scene right now?
AH: I think it’s booming. There is a lot of talent in Pakistan and I have witnessed it at first hand after attending a Thesis display of Fashion Design students at Iqra University. It was impressive, the level of creativity, innovation, detailing and aesthetics I have seen there gave me a great confidence for the future of fashion in Pakistan.
FC: What would you classify as your biggest achievement?
AH: My achievement is to be who I am today. God has blessed me with beautiful kids, caring supportive husband, sincere friends. And now an opportunity to express myself and my life journey through my designs. It’s important for every individual to find a right balance in life and I’d like to think I did it.
FC: What would be your idea of simplicity?
AH: Simplicity is my second name! It’s a big part of who I am as a person and perhaps as a designer. I strongly believe less is more and simple things in life need to be valued more as it’s the little things that make up the big things in life.
FC: What are you designing these days?
AH: These days I am working on designs that could help us to survive this hot weather. Bearing the heat and staying covered is a real deal. Finding the right fabrics and interesting cuts to combat this weather is a new experience for me, since I come from New Zealand and it doesn’t get that hot there. Pakistani lawn no doubt deserves all its glory. I’m enjoying experimenting with new fabrics, trying different embellishments that are quite new for me.
FC: What would you classify your utmost strength as a designer?
AH: I think my exposure to different cultures, being a foreigner here gives me a liberty to design on my own terms.
FC: If you were not a designer, what else would you do?
AH: My other qualification is a psychologist. I enjoy working with youth, teaching and social work.
FC: What are some comfort-zone-friendly ways to rock the latest trends?
AH: I think making one step at a time, pushing yourself out of comfort zone just a bit will gradually lead to your comfort zone expansion. I encourage many of my Pakistani friends and relatives to try new styles, new cuts. For example such outfit as a kimono… could be a great go to in summer made from breathable fabric with light inner top and flowing trousers – wonderful combination.
But don’t follow fashion blindly, make your own adjustments to make sure what suits you best.
FC: Which is the 2019 fashion trend you love?
AH: Medium length shirts are all time favourite for me. Tie dye fabrics is a world trend for summer 2019 that I love and it could compliment local designs quite a lot. Cigarette pants are definitely in these days, but don’t limit yourself to it only. Try shorter shirts with culottes pants too.
FC: Which is the 2019 fashion trend you hate?
AH: I don’t hate anything. It’s a matter of a right choice and what suits you. Everyone has different taste and body types, be open to trying new styles and remember you are always free to choose what not to wear.
FC: What habit would you like to break?
AH: Depends if you mean my own habit or the habit among us in our society. If it were my own, then perhaps it would be procrastination. But in the case of the bigger picture perhaps the habit of duality, having many faces, being hypocritical, talking behind person’s back.
FC: What designers do you wear?
AH: I’m still loyal to western brands, Zara, Glassons, H&M. Even living in Pakistan I still feel comfy wearing western cuts. Out of Pakistani designers I like Maria B and some designs from Lime Light.
FC: Which four famous personalities would you seat at your dinner table?
AH: My first choice would be a holy personality, that I believe possesses ultimate characteristics of Insaan e Kamil, that is of course our beloved Prophet Mohammed and his household.
Talking about our times, I would invite Oprah Winfrey, Imran Khan and Steve Jobbs
FC: What advice would you give your younger self?
AH: Never say never! This is what my life is all about.
FC: What for you is perfect happiness?
AH: I think there is no such thing as perfect happiness. Happiness is not a final destination, it’s a scenery that you see or don’t see on the way. Real happiness is within us, it’s an ability to enjoy what you have and not to wait for what you want. We often find that sensation of happiness when and where we least expect it in the little beautiful moments around us.