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Interview

Nadia Rehan

Doyenne of designers By Sumeha Khalid

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ollowing the age old British adage “A dress makes a person and we make the dress”, in the realms of fashion, slowly but surely a seasoned fashionista has created a niche for herself – without making too much fuss about it. While most designers spend a lot, and pull every string possible, on projection and promotion, Nadia Rehan believes in focusing on her work. And the dedication definitely shows in her striking creations. Finding her true calling, as a teenager, Now a doyenne of designers, Nadia Rehan cut her teeth by painting her very first duppattas for school. That mundane beginning gave her a sense that fashion designing was the thing for her. And with passion and determination her bywords, she gave it her all and then some. Nadia by now has not only garnered the reputation of being a versatile and talented designer but has also proved to be a source of inspiration for cub designers. Be it the jumpsuit or the digital printed separates – that are totally in these days, Nadia has literally been there, done that – leaving the rest to wonder and imitate. Here’s how pure fashion instinct makes it in the real world – the world of fashion. Taking the leap 16 years ago, when fashion was not really an industry, Nadia decided to produce a line that was not only smart and elegant but extremely affordable at the same time. And there

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was no looking back for her! “It’s something I feel I always had within. The thought of having become something else, if not a designer, has not even crossed my mind, for I always knew deep down that this is what I wanted to be,” says the creative Nadia reminiscing about her earlier days in business. Led by her instinct, Nadia mastered the art of designing purely through trial and error. She was never formally tutored in fashion designing, but then that is hardly surprising for haven’t we seen some of the best designers in Pakistan who have never even been to a fashion school? While a degree does help in equipping you with the technicalities, it is the inherent flair that makes one stand out in this, or for that matter, any career. Emphasizing on the same point, Nadia reveals: “I never went to any fashion school or thought of pursuing an academic degree in fashion. That was also owing to nonexistence of such institutions when I started out.” Doing her bit and in a successful manner, Nadia has designed beautiful fusion separates as well as complete suits, dresses, gowns, jumpsuits, threadworks, casuals, you name it and she’s done it. Nadia is hailed for her pret line which has a record off-take from the shelves. Her exhibitions are generally a sell-out affair owing to the fact that she offers classy fabric, stylishly sculpted at prices that are a steal. Her most recent exhibition at her studio last week was no exception. “My recent exhibition catered to women of varied tastes. There was something for everyone, from the young and feisty to the graceful and mellow. I had opted for bright shades beautified with add-ons and diamantes. The evening was quite spectacular in terms of sales and I am grateful to all my clients who always love my exclusive pieces.” This unassuming fashionista, who drapes herself simply says: “I am not a brand conscious person as is evident from my personal wardrobe. I prefer wearing straight, simple cuts in solid shades.” About the fact that Nadia has

been a source of inspiration for cub designers, she says, “With the advent of fashion design schools and courses which were, as I reiterate, not common some decade and a half ago, I feel today’s younger lot are blessed and I am always supportive of them and would love to promote them in every possible manner. Indeed my designs have been shared and reproduced by designers. This phenomenon too has always been a source of inner satisfaction and happiness for me as I realize that my work has the calibre that many a designer would like to share.” Having worked with quite a few

glamour girls, Neha remains Nadia’s personal favorite. As for international ladies, “I like Eman. She’s an extremely versatile model.” While Elan is her favourite brand locally, “for being very creative and original,” she adores “Elber Albaz and Lanvin for their cuts.” Future plans for Nadia include increasing and fortifying her national client base. After a relaxing chat session with the down-to-earth, home loving, balanced and enterprising fashionasta, one recalls the lyrics of an Elvis Presley song ‘You gotta follow the dream wherever the dream may lead’.

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Books

Islamophobia in the West This is an important publication in the current global scenario aimed to unravel ‘the narrative of fear that has long dominated discussions about Muslims and Islam’ By Syed Afsar Sajid

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athan Lean is an author and scholar of Middle East studies. He has to his credit a plethora of writings on Islam, American foreign policy and politics, and global affairs. He is a co-author of Iran, Israel and the United States: Regime Security vs. Political Legitimacy (2011) and a contributing writer at PolicyMic. He is editor-in-chief of Asian Media and currently resides in Washington, DC. The Islamophobia Industry sub-titled ‘How The Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims’ is an important publication in the current global scenario aimed to unravel ‘the narrative of fear that has long dominated discussions about Muslims and Islam’. It reflects the ever increasing tempo of anti-Muslim feeling swaying the United States and Europe. The knowledgeable author of the book ventures to explore the minds of the thus-called manufacturers of Islamophobia – ‘a highly-organized enterprise of conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, evangelical religious leaders, and politicians, united in their quest to exhume the ghosts of September 11 and convince their compatriots that Islam is the enemy.’ Lean has successfully unveiled their scare tactics, spotlighted their motives, and exposed the motifs that circumnavigate their propagandist designs. The book in the words of Ingrid Mattson of Huron University

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College is ‘an important resource for all people who wish to understand the forces that are manipulating our political process and discourse’. John L. Esposito, a university professor and founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for MuslimChristian Understanding, at Georgetown University, Wa s h i n g t o n , DC, has contributed a thoughtful ‘foreword’ to the book. In his view The Islamophobia Industry Islamophobia By Nathan Lean was not a Publisher: Pluto Press, 345 Archway Road, v o l c a n i c eruption like London N6 5AA tsunami in Pages: 222; Price: $17.00 US (Rs.1195/-) the wake of Available at Readings, Lahore the ominous episode of 9/11. It has had resurgence’, he goes on to say, owes long and deep historical roots like anti-Semitism itself to ‘the significant influx of and xenophobia. ‘Its contemporary Muslims to the West in the late


20th century, the Iranian revolution hijackings, hostage taking, and other acts of terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s, attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and subsequent terrorist attacks in Europe’. Tracing the roots of this epidemic, he opines that given everything positive about Islam and its followers, ‘the acts of terrorists over the last three decades have fed the growth of Islampophobia in this country’. The book is thought to be an extraordinarily important and groundbreaking study, exposing ‘the multi-million dollar cottage industry of fear mongers and network of funders and organizations that support and perpetuate bigotry, racism and a climate of fear that sustains a threatening social cancer’. John L. Esposito considers that ‘Islamophobia is not a problem for Muslims alone, it is our problem. Governments, policymakers, the media, educational institutions, and religious and corporate leaders have a critical role to play in transforming our societies and influencing our citizens and policies to contain the voices of hate and the exclusivist theologies (of militant religious and secular fundamentalists alike) if we are to promote global understanding and peace.’ Apart from the ‘introduction’ and the ‘conclusion’, the book is divided into some seven chapters with self-speaking titles like ‘Monsters among us: A history of sowing fear in America; A web of deception: Fomenting hate online; Media mayhem: Broadcasting anti-Muslim madness; We come bearing Crosses: The Christian right’s battle for eternity; Of politics and prophecy: The alliance of the pro-Israel right; To Washington and beyond: Islamophobia as Government policy, and Across the pond: The deadly effects of hate in Europe’. A host of writers, political analysts and public opinion leaders from the West have favourably loudspoken on the book. Writer

Karen Armstrong calls it ‘a compelling counter-narrative that reveals the vested interests and highlyorganized networks of those who preach the virulent Islamophobia that is not only endangering world peace but is also corroding the

and enablers of Islamophobia in America and the destructive effect of their politics on our national fabric’. Columnist Glenn Greenwald has very aptly censured America’s bad acts and mistakes over the past decade tracing them to the genesis of Islamophobia and its culprits. The devious campaigners of the phenomenon have been hiding in the dark for too long; the book drags them out into the light. Written in an anecdotal form, the book seeks to analyze, in a rational way of course, the paradigmatic implications of its theme. The concluding remarks of the author would amply illustrate his mission and vision in the broader context of its message: ‘Muslims and Islam are not to be feared, nor are blacks, Jews, Catholics, or any other group that faces systematic discrimination. Rather, there is great urgency to resist and counter those whose aim it is to chop up humanity into different minority blocks, pitting them against one another, and gambling with other people’s freedom for the sake of politics or profit. ‘With the forward progression of time, the battle will become more difficult, the stakes higher, the dangers of escalation more real, and the prejudices more deeply engrained. Only by protecting one another from the fracturing of societies, only by refusing to fall prey to this vicious and ceaseless movement to antagonize, isolate, and persecute Muslims in the United States, Europe, and everywhere around the globe, will this fear factory, the lslamophobia industry, be rightfully, forcefully and finally stamped out’.

‘Muslims and Islam are not to be feared, nor are blacks, Jews, Catholics, or any other group that faces systematic discrimination. Rather, there is great urgency to resist and counter those whose aim it is to chop up humanity into different minority blocks, pitting them against one another, and gambling with other people’s freedom for the sake of politics or profit’ tolerance and egalitarian ethos that should characterize Western society’. Author Reza Aslan thinks that by writing the book, Lean ‘shines a light on the network of business, political, and religious organizations and individuals who employ rank bigotry to promote their intrests’. Nihad Awad of the CAIR pronounces that the book is ‘an eye-opener – the most comprehensive book to date on a new and dangerous cycle of minority persecution in American society’, exposing the key-players, funders

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Lounge issue no 107