Embodying Art and Fashion – The Vibrant Avatars of Asmaa Mumtaz

By Sonya Rehman

Fierce, fabulous and off-the-wall, Asmaa Mumtaz, the country’s first personal stylist produces work that is daring, contemporary (in every sense of the word) and edgy – just the right ingredients needed to shape, mold and jazz up local fashion to contend at the international level.

With a BFA (Hons) from the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, Mumtaz eventually went on to the London College of Fashion where she studied contemporary make-up and styling – converting an aspiration to a solid skill.

From PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Weeks, PFDC’s L’Oreal Bridal Week, Karma, HSY, Kamiar Rokni, Maria B, Nickie & Nina, etc, Pakistani fashion’s girl-not-so-interrupted has given local fashion weeks, designers and apparel brands (such as Crossroads, Kayseria, and Levis) her inimitable brand of funk…in one big splash of colour.

Asmaa Mumtaz walking for Ammar Belal at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week

As a Make-up Artist/Stylist, Mumtaz’s work is diverse. Take Karma Pink’s ‘Seussical’ (inspired by Dr. Seuss) shoot for instance: with pretty-young-thing Zara Peerzada modeling as the fashion label’s muse, Mumtaz whipped up a funky, fantasy-based theme which was dreamy and rather Cirque du Soleil. And then there was Kayseria’s Eid line (introduced this year) which carried with it an interesting, Native American theme – with chunky arm bands, earrings and rings – the look screamed ‘Asmaa Mumtaz.’

Zara Peerzada modeling for Karma’s ‘Seussical’ shoot

In 2010, the sassy Stylist initiated ‘The Dresser’ – a hair/make-up/styling and photography studio that branches out into organic skincare and spa services as well. And this year, Levis endorsed Mumtaz not only as an Ambassador for their ‘Go Forth’ campaign – which features an assortment of young Pakistanis in the spotlight – but also brought her on board as the campaign’s official Stylist, adding to her ever-growing body of diverse work.

HELLO! Pakistan caught up with Pakistani fashion’s It Girl about all things style, fashion and personal grooming:

Your work, as a Stylist, is very hip and experimental. Do you think contemporary Pakistani fashion is now open to out-of-the-box ideas regarding shoots/campaigns/fashion shows, or, do you feel that there still are some reservations within the industry, where local designers feel comfortable sticking to a cookie-cutter approach?

Like attracts like, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some truly fantastic individuals who support and complement my creative style. The work we’ve managed to do has been cutting edge and at par with fashion weeks around the world. There is a lot of room for experimentation in styling fashion shows and editorial photoshoots. Sometimes you’ll find people that help you be your best; and other times, not so much. It’s a mix of both and a lot of it depends on the details and purpose of the activity. When creative boundaries are set, it makes creating a successful image a lot more challenging and frustrating, but there are leaders and followers in every industry, one just has to find their niche.

Photo: Mohsin Khawar

But do you think Pakistani fashion is currently mature enough to take Stylists seriously? I ask, because a few years ago, designers and photographers wound up being half Stylists themselves. What’s your take on this?

Designers and fashion houses are now finally opening up to the idea of a Stylist. Being a personal/fashion Stylist is a relatively new profession all over the world, one that has evolved and molded itself to the needs of the game. It’s like ‘event management’ was, say, 15 years ago – one would have never thought of employing someone to do what we’d been doing ourselves for centuries, but now we feel it’s almost crucial! I’ve also really had to prove my role/importance as a Stylist, and as others see the difference one can make, they believe in it more, and are willing to have a Stylist on board. Some designers, however, continue to do their own styling as they have distinct visions of what they want and feel they don’t need one, which I suppose is fine too! Each to their own.

With winter around the corner, what style tips would you like to give to fashion-conscious Pakistani women? What ‘look’ will work this winter, in your opinion?

I love shawls and scarves, and we have the most beautiful, finest variety to choose from – made right here in the subcontinent! I feel they can really make an outfit. Take it from drab and boring to fabulous in seconds. It’s such a versatile accessory, it can be used in a million ways – tied around the neck, draped loosely around the shoulders, used as a belt, a bandana, or even a hair band! It can help hide/accentuate the right features on a person and/or be that dash of colour or texture. It’s a fashion Godsend – especially in this part of the world where a woman needs some kind of cover at a moment’s notice! I don’t leave home without it!

Photo: Xaib Photography

What makes a ‘stylish,’ well-groomed woman?

Grooming is key. If you have well manicured hands and feet, soft glowing skin, perfectly shaped eyebrows, the right hair cut and colour, and shiny white teeth, you could pretty much put on a garbage bag and get away with it! And if all this is sorted, you won’t even require a dot of make-up! As for style, well, we could get into technicalities of body structure, skin tone, proportion etc, but true style comes from within. I’m a big believer in what you are inside will show on the outside. So for instant style, SMILE!

HELLO! Pakistan

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