LAHORE-Sadia Siddiqui, CEO Mustang Productions, has directed many high profile fashion shows over the years. She is the creator of Fashion Parade, a platform for South Asian designers to take their designs to London.
Using her keen business acumen, Sadia completed MBA, from the University of London where she won the Charles Wallace Award for outstanding academic achievements and graduated top 5 of her cohort. Sadia has directed PFDC L’Oreal Paris bridal fashion week for three years now. She offers an expertise in fashion and event direction which is something that hasn’t really materialized in Pakistan on a full scale yet. In a brief encounter with The Nation, she talks about her career and success in the fashion industry. Following are the excerpts.
Tell us from the start. How did you get into the business of fashion?
Since my childhood, I was fascinated by fashion. I remember whenever I had time on my hands I would take out my sketchbook and draw different designs of clothes. I loved experimenting with clothing and designs. Even though I ended up doing a business degree my heart was always directed towards doing something creative and fashion was something that came naturally to me. And there on I went to England and did my masters in business. With the passage of time, I started my own company named Mustang Productions giving South Asian fashion a platform to showcase their own skill.
You have been directing PFDC fashions shows. How has the experience been and what do you think needs to change about fashion shows in Pakistan?
PFDC has been a fabulous experience for me and to be honest my involvement in the show has been purely through Sehr Saigol. She’s a visionary and I could really relate to and understand her aesthetic sense and vision.
There’s always so much to learn from her. So, when she proposed the idea of being the creative head of PFDC to me I knew it would be a great challenge for me considering the fact that I’m coming from a completely different market into an alien setting but Sehr has given me the support I needed and it’s been an absolutely wonderful experience.
With fashion parade, you set a new bar for international fashion shows. What was your vision for starting this and where do you plan to take it further?
My vision for the fashion parade was really quite simple. I used to live in London then and I saw some pretty substandard shows in the name of Pakistan happening there. Considering we have fabulous designers in Pakistan, I thought these events weren’t justifying their work. If we have to showcase their work internationally then we have to make sure that we really raise the bar for our international audience. I feel that the shows being held there were lackluster and completely disorganized. This was why I decided we needed a platform like Fashion Parade that can celebrate the real talent of Pakistan.
What is your forte? There are very few people in Pakistan with the skills of executing full projects from creative to execution on the ground. When you take up a project what do you bring to the table?
I don’t have one particular forte because there’s such a wide range of services that I offer. I work as a branding consultant and I have been involved in many projects. Though people know me more for fashion I have done work outside it. In London, for two years I worked with the brand Ashni & Co. as their brand consultant and one year as a partner. I have also worked with the government of Pakistan Ministry of Commerce last year on Emerging Pakistan. My job in Emerging Pakistan was to create a launch pad and create an event from scratch to show the 700 foreign investors why they should invest in our country.
With regards to booming industries and new initiatives by Pakistan government and in the fashion arena, what do you think the Pakistan market needs to be set apart in terms of events done in Pakistan and projects of international stature?
The Pakistani government is using mediocre event organizers that don’t know enough about fashion. This shouldn’t be done. They should hire people who have the same creative wavelength and understand the fashion industry.
I don’t understand the need to recreate shows for Pakistanis overseas, these shows should be made to advertise our cultures to foreigners, people who need to understand our culture, for example, Indians, they love wearing our dresses and indulging in our cultures.
Who is your favorite designer and why?
The fashion industry is full of amazing versatile designers, but for me, Faraz Mannan’s work is absolutely lovely, I think Kamiar Rokni is a genius and Nomi Ansari’s color palette is unbeatable. I think he’s a master when it comes to couture. Each designer brings something different to the table and is talented in his or her own way. When it comes to pret, I think Elan’s work is great.
In terms of creative aesthetic when doing shows/events, what do you and your company Mustang Productions represent?
As far as aesthetics are concerned, my company gets involved in a lot of different aspects of the show. Starting from the set design the kind of models we’ll be using, the music that there’s going to be. And as I’m the creative director I come on board and communicate how things should be done, the look of the production and the overall strategy that is involved in the project.
There are very few women in the field who show executors or deliver brand execution to the end. How do you think your position as a woman has strengthened and brought hurdles on your journey?
I agree that there are very few women who do what I do in Pakistan. I think the difference between me and other women who execute such shows in Pakistan is that I bring something new to the table in a sense that I am one of those few people who have actually lived abroad and worked on shows overseas.
So, I have had experience in an international market and can think from an international perspective. There have been many hurdles along this journey but considering my upbringing and the kind of environment that I have worked through as a woman, I believe that I have the determination to face these hurdles and challenges, it’s definitely not easy but I can definitely manage them.