Tell us about your foray into the field of fashion. How did it all begin for you? I would say upgrading our traditional embroideries to contemporary design preoccupied me and I suppose that was my foray into fashion design. To design the excellence of the craft and make it relevant by value adding was always the vision, apart from preserving the craft to upgrade and innovate a product for local and international markets. I guess designing is my business, be it the Libas Fashion Collection, Libas the magazine or chairing the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC). Bearing this in mind and in line with our ideology, we at PFDC have been working towards the creation of a design district – a district that brings together all spheres of design under one roof, from fashion design to textile to craft to art and more. Our aim is to bridge the gap between the artisans, crafts and the design industry of Pakistan leading to strong business ties and economic growth that will also work to upgrade our design for its internationalisation and global relevance. How, according to you, has fashion evolved in Pakistan over the years? In what ways has it strengthened and in what ways has it gone down? The Pakistani designers have a huge potential and natural talent for design. This resource for value-added products especially for exports must be tapped. PFDC sees itself, here, playing the role of a regulatory body and lays down criteria, discipline and guidelines to showcase collections. We follow an international calendar of two distinct seasons in fashion and have consistently partnered with the same multinational sponsors through the years. We continue to work tirelessly to build brand PFDC from the bottom up never compromising on quality and standards, no matter what. There is an awareness of quality associated with design, for example a regular lawn/voile suit worn almost all year around has transformed into a designer garment with access to all section of society. Besides being a huge seller in the whole region. These are enormous achievements PFDC’s ideology has been a collaboration between the corporate world, craft and designers, to this end PFDC has created designer awareness in the corporate world who now feel the need to upgrade their product to designer wear. This is the progress being achieved step by step. The fashion industry has not only grown in numbers but the scale of a few designers is stunningly large. I don’t see it going down, only up. ‘It is about setting standards and not compromising on those. It is also a question of goals in life and I am fortunate to have had that clarity and focus on what mine are’ What are the key things a designer needs to have to be a part of the PFDC? A designer needs to have a spark, a clear signature, discipline and affair for creativity. The PFDC is not there for borrowed, referenced and copied work. Your fashion label Libas is popular to this day. Are you serious about taking it far or are you satisfied with the way it is right now? Libas is a contained label that allows me to explore my love for fabric and colour. I am happy for it to continue as a more boutique brand, because my time and focus is dedicated much more to helping budding designers and guiding them. What is your take on international magazines coming to Pakistan like Hello! and OK magazine? Do you see yourself doing something similar in future? I think international magazine franchises are welcome and it is always good to have other viewpoints to see what’s going on internationally. Further, locally adapted versions of international magazines is a way of getting our nation to the other side of the world and opening the world’s ears and eyes to progressive Pakistan. But no, I am not contemplating bringing forth any such magazine, because look around you, how many newsstands do you see? Even bookshops! What according to you has been your biggest achievement so far? I have no biggest achievement so far. My work and life is in evolution and is part of a journey. Candidly, whatever I have done is what should have been done anyway and someone had to do it – so I refuse to pat myself on the back. What motivates you to excel no matter what? It is about setting standards and not compromising on those. It is also a question of goals in life and I am fortunate to have had that clarity and focus on what mine are. Also, I have only ever done that which really interests me. I have to give my 100 percent or I cannot work otherwise. What is your vision for Pakistan and what does it mean to be Pakistani for you? My vision is to up the standard for our creative industry to be design led. For ‘be Pakistani, wear Pakistani’ to be the norm. I would honestly close 100 percent of our imports. To be able to hold our head high and work towards being self-sufficient. We all want Pakistan to flourish and for that to happen we need our rulers to lead by example and we too must all do our part. I also have the greatest faith in the women of Pakistan. We, at Daily Times, consider you one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours? Syed Babar Ali – I really look up to him.3 Achievements THE FASHION PIONEER Sehyr Saigol has been in the industry of fashion right from the beginning. She is one of the pioneers in the business of fashion having introduced her label Libas, followed by a reputed fashion magazine also known as Libas. HELM OF AFFAIRS Sehyr Saigol is the chairperson of the prestigious Pakistan Fashion Design Council which is a platform for both established and upcoming designers to showcase their collections to the public twice a year. HONOURED AT HOME Saigol has been honoured both in her home country and abroad for her immense contributions to the fashion industry of Pakistan. She is also the proud recipient of the coveted Lux Style Award for Lifetime Achievement. Published in Daily Times, August 31st 2018.