Frieha Altaf is one of Pakistan’s top fashion moguls, having replaced the “one-man army” with a “one-woman army.” Breaking all myths, Altaf has a long list of firsts to her name, from directing big award shows to choreographing major fashion shows to planning all grand parties and events. Having a perfect ramp attitude and business brains, Frieha is a role model for all the women out there!
Fashion Collection women’s day celebration would have been incomplete without a conversation with the ultimate powerhouse, Frieha Altaf!
Fashion Collection: 3 things that people don’t know about Frieha Altaf?
Frieha Altaf: Well the three things that people don’t know about me are perhaps:
1) I am an artist and a sculptor, and I always wanted to become an art professor.
2) I can cook, and I used to cook for a very look time but I stopped when I came back to Pakistan.
3) my real age! on Wikipedia, my age is 15 years younger than I actually am.
Fashion Collection: Regards women empowerment, where are our society at fault? why do you think the women have been pushed to the edge to fight for their rights?
Frieha Altaf: The biggest problem with women and their rights comes from tradition and culture. I always look at how upbringing is and how there’s always division in values. The parents from the beginning should educate their children about equal rights, give them the same values and the same amount of freedom! In Pakistan, the girls are treated worst! there are always rules laid out for them, even their education is done in perspective to a better marriage proposal. Girls are always instructed and prepared for being better wives and homemakers and not prepared for the world and for being themselves. the compilation of all these illogical cultures and traditions has now forced women to be bold and upfront and fight for their rights!
Fashion Collection: Pakistan being extremely patriarchal, what was the biggest challenge for you post-divorce?
Frieha Altaf: “believing in oneself is a shutup call to everyone!” and once you are a success the society comes after you. Post-divorce my family structure had changed. My father and younger brother had passed away and I became the head of the family. Many of my family members including males were now under my care. Also, you face societal challenges once you let society’s opinion affect you. I was always rebellious, I always used to question about the illogical cultures and traditions. what I think is right I go with it! that’s how society never got the chance to give me challenges!
Fashion Collection: When you highlighted your incident considering the #metoo, many of your fraternity members called it a “publicity stunt”. What would you say to them?
Frieha Altaf: When you come out and talk about issues like physical abuse it takes a lot out of you! it takes a lot of courage! it almost kills you! but once you put it out it empowers you. As they say “Kuch to log kaheingay, logoun ka kaam hai kehna”. I don’t care about what people say. what I am proud of and care about is that my statements and experiences about the #metoo movement brought the government into motion as it was on international media. The government officials got in touch with me, the new laws were proposed, made, and implemented! protest regarding sexual abuse started, and above all, it gave power, strength and courage to many other women in the society to speak up and come out with their experiences.
Fashion Collection: How’d you describe yourself in three words?
Frieha Altaf: Well, that’s the most difficult question as my description of myself keeps changing. Umm, I’d describe myself as an activist, a leader, and a trendsetter.
Fashion Collection: If got a chance what’s that one thing you’d wanna change in our society?
Frieha Altaf: One thing that I would want to change in Pakistan is that I would make education mandatory, and I believe the government should take immediate actions on our education system. no child should be deprived of education. I would have put a lot of money into the institutionalization of the education system. also I would have banned child labor. I believe these are the only things that can bring change to Pakistan.
Fashion Collection: Directing all those grand and mystique events, What’s that one thing that keeps you motivated for achieving bigger and better every time?
Frieha Altaf: One thing I do not stand for is mediocrity. even if it is in my work it upsets me, I go after myself, I criticize myself, I harden my team because I believe mediocrity doesn’t leave a foundation or any element for people to aspire to. You have to do something unusual, you have to create your signature style. that’s my motivation.
For me, it’s all about change and something unwonted.
Fashion Collection: Being the best at the business what was the biggest challenge for you as a single parent?
Frieha Altaf: The biggest challenge for any woman who works and is a single parent is economics. I remember when I had gotten divorced, I had to start it all over again with only 14000 rupees in my pocket. it wasn’t easy! I think the motivation comes from your children and the love you have for them and how you wanna give them everything. the challenge for me was also providing and providing the best! which made me work hard and the hard work always pays off!
Fashion Collection: What advice would you give to the next generation of young women?
Frieha Altaf: My advice to the younger generation is that don’t grow up like us! we grew up doing the Gudda Guriya Ki Shaadi, dreaming about our wedding outfit and our groom that can’t be your dream! your ultimate dream has to be being independent, having a career, and obviously having a family! You’d ace in all your roles if you are educated! I’d advise all the younger women reading that please dream and dream big! dream for yourself instead of for others. You got to live only once live it your way! be honest about your work and work hard! Loads of love and duas and a very Happy Women’s Day to all!