Shehla Chatoor Exclusive Interview with Fashion Central

1. How did your journey as a designer started?

My journey into the fashion world was purely a coincidence, maybe fate. Upon my return from USA as a business graduate, I could not find what I was looking for in clothes. So I started designing my own clothes, including my wedding trousseau. This immediately caught peoples attention and I was flooded with orders and 15 years later here I am, still loving every minute of it.

2. If you were not a designer, you were?

I love art, so I would probably be a curator….but clothes has always been and will be my passion.

3. Who motivated and inspired you to become a designer?

Honestly no one. It was just fate.

4. What is your designing philosophy?

Design philosophy at “SHEHLA” is to create ensembles, which are stylish, elegant, and yet timeless. Re-inventing old art forms and techniques and infusing them into modern designs. From age old Zardozi, mukesh techniques to ancient Gara embroideries. The idea is to create outfits, which are art pieces and can be passed on to generations.

5. How do you feel being nominated for LUX Style Best Designer Award?

I am extremely honoured and humbled at the same time very excited.

6. Are you a feminist? And does your design solely focus on woman as an individual?

I am definitely socially liberal. I do believe women have equal rights to education, work and having their own opinion. Yet, I do not think I am a Feminist. My clothes are feminine and inspired by women who are elegant and confident.

7. Do you think Pakistani fashion industry is on the right track and what is its future?

I believe Pakistani fashion industry has really evolved, but still has a long way to go. With so many fashion weeks happening, designers have an opportunity to show their collections each season, yet I wish there was more screening in designs. The biggest hindrance is that we lack unity. I truly believe Pakistan has great talent in terms of ideas and designs, but we need the right platform and exposure.

8. Have you ever felt jealous of your competitors in profession?

Absolutely not! I have my own signature and style. I do wish there was less plagiarism and more originality.

9. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I love what I am doing and hope to continue following my passion of creating timeless outfits. I aim to take the label SHEHLA to more outlets across Pakistan and beyond. Fashion to me is a life style so I will continue to follow my inspirations, be it in designing clothes, shoes and bags, accessories and beyond……..

10. Favo-meter

  • Favorite designer

Alexander Mc Queen and Halston.

  • Favorite food


  • Favorite fashion model

Rosie Huntington and Kate Moss

  • Favorite fabric that you mostly use in your creations

Luxurious silks, French nets and flowy chiffons.

11. Is current political turmoil and social instability in the country bothering your plans? 

Being a designer, my work is emotional. So it just does not affect my work schedule, it also puts a dent in my creativity. For example, the recent killings and violence in Karachi have put a real toll to my work as I have Eid and wedding orders with deadlines which are delayed due to these unrests.

12. What role you think is Fashion playing in improving the image and circumstances of Pakistan?

It plays a crucial role as it projects a more softer, more positive image of Pakistan. For instance, the FPW2 was covered by Vogue, USA , Sept issue in which they had used my outfit worn by Nadia Hussain and a number of my friends from outside Pakistan were impressed to see Pakistani fashion covered by Vogue.

13. What are you designing for this Eid?

Paneled kali kurtas in cotton nets with resham marori work. I am also doing a range of my gara printed collection, which combines in house prints with crochet and old gara embroideries.

14. Any message that you want to give to our youth!

There is no substitute for hard work, stay committed to whatever you do in all honesty. Believe in yourself and do not loose hope. Currently our nation is going through a very tough time, the youth needs to come forward to eradicate illiteracy, fight corruption and extremism and work towards a liberal and progressive Pakistan. There is tremendous potential in our country so don’t despair and loose hope.

Shehla Chatoor is a passionate young designer, who came from USA as a business student, but discovered her immense talent in the field of art and designing by fate, and after 15 years, here she is, a creative, well established and an award winning designe

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