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Infocus: Munib`s Miami rush

April 26, 2009

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As of this moment, designer Munib Nawaz is on top of the world. “I`m high on life!” he responds with a laugh. We`re sitting in his office that`s right next to his workshop with bags of his clothes stacked neatly against another wall. He looks visibly refreshed and no wonder, because he recently came back from showing at the Miami International Fashion Week. Not only that, but he ended up bagging the coveted Men`s Style Award (best menswear designer) at the week.

One of the questions that comes to mind is how did he manage to get to the week? Munib responds that he`d been working on it for the past year but kept his plans very hush, till he was absolutely sure that he was going to participate. “I like to control the media I`m in as opposed to the media controlling me,” he says, adding that only a chosen few knew about his plans even a week before he was due to go. “I didn`t want something like this blown out of proportion before time,” but adds on second thought, “but then again nothing like this can be blown out of proportion because it hasn`t happened to anyone in Pakistan yet.” A year of exchanging emails and media related to Munib`s work, acquainting the organisers of the MFW with his designer brand and building an overall relationship finally bore fruit when he was invited to show earlier this year.

“It was the first time Pakistan had been on that international forum. I wanted to show the world that Munib Nawaz can design clothes as opposed to simply tailoring outfits for people, something I think a lot of designers over here need to understand,” he says.

The collection he showed is called Ideal and is based on ideology. He drew inspiration for it from Pakistan itself, not the country as it is being projected internationally but a “parallel side of it. I feel like I live in a very progressive side of the country because if someone like me can live here, and with my business growing... I feel like that`s what we`re not communicating. Yes, there are issues but there is also a progressive side to the country.”

The two individuals from Pakistan that the designer took inspiration from were Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. “Quaid-i-Azam was one of the most fashionable people I did my research on and whatever he wore, he made it his own. That`s what I like about him,” he says definitively adding that not only was he well-travelled but the Quaid also made his identity in a very dynamic society where he was surrounded by the English, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs among others — and all with a very strong culture of their own. Munib saved a lot of his speeches and says that a lot of what the Quaid talked about had to do with progressiveness and the need to move forward.

“I don`t even have to explain why,” Munib laughs when talking about his next muse for the collection, Imran Khan. Other than his professional achievements, “he`s been with all the babes round the world and he`s still wanted!” But on a serious note he says that “Imran has an ideology as a person. I`m not talking about him as a politician. He`s established his presence globally and is the kind of person who`s “put his arms around Mick Jagger and still been cool enough about it.”

Other international figures that inspired Munib were Bono and Sting. “Bono has the rock star thing happening for him and yet he`s very socio-political without getting too much into it. That`s just me I want to be involved but I don`t want to be put into a bracket or stereotyped. I`m stepping out of my own comfort zone and designing at a much more matured place.”

He adds that he wanted to play with a long silhouette of the sherwani, and that he designed thinking of how he can evolve its traditional shape. “We`ve seen the same sherwani worn for 50 years... seen our leaders wear the same thing. They need to progress visually as well.”

1. From L to R Model, Lee Dhlberg, Munib Nawaz, Vincent DC Paul, model.

2. Munib sporting an orange Rockband bracelet gifted to him by Lee Dhlberg.