Beyg's big night and bigger plans

Beyg's big night and bigger plans

Exclusive interview with the Pakistani designer who presented a stunning show in Dubai on Friday
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Beyg's big night and bigger plans

It was not publicly advertised, yet Rizwan Beyg's first ever fashion show in Dubai was totally sold out long before the event. The show was the centrepiece of the CARE Summer Ball held at the Raffles Dubai hotel on Friday (May 23) to raise funds for the education of underprivileged children in Pakistan. The crme de la crme of Dubai society turned out in their best designer togs to have the first look at the ace Pakistani designer's summer 2008 couture collection.

And the designer surpassed all expectations with a tantalising array of garments that combined his signature embroideries, impeccable cuts and luxurious fabrics with a stunning, innovative range of silhouettes. Called the Carnivale collection, it was themed around the carnivale in Venice, but the designer had freely borrowed influences from around the world to create what he called "a serious attempt to internationalise Pakistani fashion".

There was something for everyone - gorgeous sarees, flared lehenga skirts, churidars, patiala shalwars, narrow and flared pants. And these were paired with sexy bustiers, corset tops, short asymmetric tops, long kameezes with deep slits, kimono tops and a variety of embroidered jackets with dramatic collars and voluminous sleeves. The palette moved from nudes, whites, pinks and lilacs with tone on tone embroidery to dramatic black and white and rich shades of terracotta, jade green and shimmering red and the fabrics were opulent silks, chiffons and velvet. We loved Rizwan's styling with matching gloves and a variety of headgear inspired by the carnivale theme. Certainly one of the best shows we have seen in Dubai.

The collection will soon be available at Designer's Lounge on Al Mina Road, Dubai. And the good news is that Rizwan will soon be moving to Dubai.

Read our exclusive interview with the designer to learn more about his collection, his future plans and his Bollywood debut - and remember - you saw it here first!

What was the inspiration behind this collection?
The collection was based on the Venice carnivale. But I wanted to present a very strong western accent on a very traditional embroidery method and did a lot of research on the embroideries. The idea was to do a global palette in terms of silhouette, colours and embroideries, so I used elements from the Japanese kimono, Moroccan embroidery, medieval cross-stitch patterns, typical Indian paisley motifs and several variations of the traditional shalwar. You could call this a universal language of fashion.

With many international fashion houses moving away from couture, how do you see the future of couture, especially in the subcontinent?
Everybody talks about prt these days but I am a couture person at heart. To me prt is akin to industrialisation and I believe in beautiful handmade things because in the subcontinent we have such a rich tradition of embroidery and craftsmanship and that is the edge we have over designers in the west. A lot of designers here have callously given that up to mass produce. But I am tenaciously clinging to my belief in couture and want to continue making luxury clothes. Pret has a different audience and not as much room for creativity. It is more about commerce, avarice, greed and making easy money, while couture is about presenting a vision. But most designers in the subcontinent confuse it with designing bridal wear. That is why I deliberately did not include any bridal garments in this collection.

Was this collection designed with the coming Milan Fashion Week in mind?
I have often been invited to Milan but will go there only when I think I am absolutely ready. I have not yet decided whether to go this season or the next. But if I do, I will definitely take some of the black and white skirts and jackets from this collection.

What is the aim of the Pakistan Design Guild you have recently founded?
We have top as well as young upcoming designers on the panel and our main aim is to promote excellence in design.

Are you planning a fashion week in Pakistan?
That is not possible due to the current law and order situation in Pakistan. Hence our strategy is to send our designers out to participate in fashion weeks and do shows in other countries to create awareness about Pakistani fashion.

Why has it taken you so long to have a show in the UAE?
I believe in being at the right place at the right time. And this was the right time, venue and platform for my first show here.

Are all your shows part of charity events?
Yes. I believe in supporting good causes and have never done a commercial show and will never do one in future.

What are your plans for Dubai?
I plan to move here by early next year and set up a salon where I can provide personalised couture. That is the edge I have over other designers and I have no wish to be a shopkeeper.

Tell us about the new products you have added to your label. Are you also planning to do menswear?
I introduced textiles recently and we did very well with our printed cotton, muslin and lawns this season. I also do shoes, bags and home furnishing. I am working on a menswear prt line that will be launched in September. I am not doing achkans and shalwars. It is a fusion collection with nice shirts, trousers and embroidered jackets.

We heard you wrote and directed a play?
Yes. I wrote and directed a play called 'The legend of Anarkali'. I also did the music, costumes and jewellery for this play that was staged in New York, Los Angeles and London and we raised over a million dollars for the Human Development Fund that helps to educate underprivileged children.

So is the next step Bollywood?
I have been approached by a famous producer to do the costumes for his next movie. I will travel to Mumbai in July for further discussions. (Our sources tell us that Sanjay Leela Bhansali wants Rizwan to work with him on his film Heera Mandi).

For more photos see:
Rizwan Beyg show