By Sonya Rehman
Equipped with a BSc (Hons) in Economics and an MBA in Marketing from the Lahore School of Economics, Omar Mansoor had other, far more creative endeavours.
He was all set to plunge, head-first, into the vibrant world of fashion designing.
And plunge he did – into swirling rolls of fabric, hues, patterns and motifs – emerging as a designer who has, of late, shown at exalted events such as the ‘Wimbledon Fashion Week’ and more recently, ‘London Fashion Week’ which was held this year in September.
Thankfully, the success and immense exposure for Omar, hasn’t led to an inflated ego and ostentatious illusions of grandeur.
On the contrary, the young man remains just as he always was – humble, soft-spoken and extremely approachable, quite like how he used to be during his days at the Lahore School.
Infact, I distinctly recall, many conversations with him after our classes. We’d sit on the benches and talk endlessly about our premature experiences in the local media scene.
At the time, he was struggling to make a name for himself (by way of his lawn fabric exhibitions), and I was struggling equally, as a fledgling cultural journalist.
Such big dreams Omar had. And it’s no wonder how far he’s managed to come to where he is today; primarily because of his humility, earnestness, enthusiasm and utter willingness to learn. Perhaps that really is the most winning mixture for success.
This is because the artistic augmentation of both skill and aestheticism develops only when egos are set aside, and when an innocent zeal is allowed to set it, completely, with abandon.
But coming back to Omar, who, after the completion of his MBA, went on to work on his designer lawn label for the next two years while putting up frequent exhibitions of his label in some of the major cities across the country.
And in 2006, the designer embarked on to London where he did “professional courses from the London College of Fashion (LCF), under the supervision of Geoff Oven – an experienced couturier and alumni of LCF. He helped me immensely in teaching and inspiring me to develop a collection which encompassed both Western and Eastern cultures.”
Talking about his experience at the recent ‘London Fashion Week’ (LFW), Omar states: “The collection that I put up at the LFW was a fusion line called ‘Culture to Couture’, which consisted of Western cuts and Eastern embellishments. Initially I was too surprised when I found out that I’d be selected to showcase at LFW. At the same time, knowing that I was the only Pakistani designer to participate in this year’s LFW brought about an enormous amount of responsibility on me. Therefore I made sure that I worked on each and every detail – from the accessories, to the make-up and styling. After the show I was invited to the Pakistan High Commission in London where I was commended for my participation at LFW.”
Given Omar’s success overseas, what has his family’s reaction been like? “My family was there to support me from day one”, he says; “They actually wanted me to pursue it seriously as a business and not just as a hobby…which is why they asked me to get a degree in business, prior to my taking up fashion designing on a full-time basis.”
Locally, Omar finds great inspiration in the works of Maheen Khan and Zubair Kumman, who, as the young designer states “aren’t restricting fashion to a specific class”.
“I would like to see Tee Jays back in form as he was in the 80s – he was a guru of innovative cuts”, Omar says before proceeding, “Then we also have the younger blokes – HSY and Deepak Perwani – who showcase their work on an international scale by participating in different fashion weeks around the world.”
Given the lucrative nature of fashion, how does Omar view fashion in Pakistan? “It’s constantly evolving”, he says, “But our designers should emphasize more on prêt lines rather than restricting fashion to the elites. Fashion throughout the world focuses mainly on ready-to-wear lines – and we have a huge market for that too. In London you can see fashion on the streets, while in Pakistan you have to go to a big wedding to see it. Fashion may also vary considerably within a society according to age, class and occupation – but it has to be for everyone!”
With the world as his oyster, and his dream of ultimately making a considerable mark in the world of fashion – in Pakistan and overseas – Omar stands as one of the numerous local artistes who earnestly believes that the sky, really isn’t the limit. And that it never was.
The Friday Times