Maheen Karim talks to Fashion Central

I was born on 31st August 1979 in Karachi and obtained all of my secondary school education at the Karachi Grammar School. On completion of my A levels I went on for further studies to specialize in Fashion Design Marketing at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London.

At Saint Martins I was taught the minutiae of design where the motto was “impossible is nothing” and the term wearable only meant that the garment should not disassemble whilst on the person.   Design training there taught me that there are really no boundaries to abstraction and given the right raw materials and technical expertise it wasn’t impracticable to bring your creativity to life.

Design school groomed me to be a creator, to draw without any inhibitions and attempt to bring to life what I penned down in my sketches. Technical expertise was at hand and the sky was the limit. My degree course comprised of four academic years out of which one required practical training and work experience at an already established fashion house. I was fortunately selected by internationally acclaimed greats the likes of Hussein Chalayan (who that very year won himself the accolade of “Best Designer”), Julien Macdonald, Giorgio Armani and Vivienne Westwood.

My work experience at these long established household names taught me the ins and outs of designing in the real world. How to sift my creativity and channel it in order to provide the potential customer, who may not have as astute a design sense, with a garment or ensemble that boosts his or her confidence and allows them to feel better about themselves and feel special. I was involved in garment construction for international showcases like London Fashion Week, Moscow Fashion Week and Eye to Eye. In addition to this I was also made responsible for collating buyers’ orders and delegating to production units following the shows including Public Relations and Press events.

With a very chic, elegant graduation collection in women’s eveningwear and a host of design house work experience, I graduated from Saint Martins with flying colours and ventured forth to gain as much work experience in the west as I possibly could before I returned back home. I wanted to learn the business aspect of fashion as one of the world’s leading industries. I was offered a position at the global design house, Escada as Press and PR Manager UK. There I dealt with UK’s eminent fashion magazines, the likes of Vogue, Vanity Fair, Elle, and Red to name a few. The position taught me how to interact with journalists, stylists and employ marketing strategies involving the “who’s who” in order to gain brand recognition and placement in the market. My experience at Escada was absolutely priceless.

December 2004 I decided to move back to Pakistan and researched on starting on my own design label in order to experiment with cuts and shape for the local market. I started to put together a sample collection playing with silhouette and colour and putting together a women’s’ western eveningwear collection. My designs cater to the young, affluent Pakistani woman who wants to dress glamorous and has no reserve. She is confident and bold, and she is looking for luxury that renders comfort.

My current collection includes floating skirts bearing the aura of a bright summer’s colourful palette, evening dresses embellished with encrusted Swarovski gems, smart in vogue shirts with ruffled twist and chic trousers. Stretching from Bohemian tops to Hellenic gathered drapes with silk tassels. And ofcourse, Maheen Karim’s signature stripe!

I aim to use the spectacular raw materials and craftsmanship obtainable to me in Pakistan to its fullest promise in order to create garments for which there is an extreme dearth in our country. The passion to create silhouettes and play with shape will hopefully allow me to furnish the woman of 21st Century Pakistan with a sanctuary where she is able find glamour and glitz in a garment without feeling the need to travel overseas in search of grandeur.

I was born on 31st Aug 1979 in Karachi and obtained all of my secondary school education at the Karachi Grammar School.

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