(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Deepak Perwani is a contentious figure, alternatively loved and loathed depending on what he does with which person at which show, at what time — who he chooses over who else, who he sets back, who he builds, who he helps out and myriad other reasons that crop up frequently in an industry given to gossip and backbiting like no other.
It's a place where everyone knows everyone else, people love and loathe yet cannot live with or without each other. And perhaps, at the very centre of all that has transpired in the history of the Pakistani fashion industry, there is Deepak Perwani.
Perwani, who started his label in 1994, is closing in on a quarter century of sustaining signature style and cuts. 'The industry has grown out to be bolder, older, wiser and securer, Deepak tells Community in an exclusive interview at his opulent studio, opened recently in Pakistan's megapolis Karachi.
When he entered the industry, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin was a struggling model, who celebrated his silver jubilee as designer last year whilst Perwani still has two years to make that mark; however, you can't but sit up and take notice. Deepak has an explanation for this, 'I think what HSY basically meant was that he has completed 25 years in fashion in the period he was into choreography, modelling and I think he used to do television in those days as well. 1994 is when I started, so yeah different strokes for different folks.
This small town boy from Mirpurkhas has always made things happen. From designer to organising fashion shows to being an actor, Deepak has done it all. He has done shows in Pakistan, Miami and Milan, made Guinness World Record for largest Kurta in the world, served as Brand Ambassador for Special Olympics, raised funds for special children and worked tirelessly to bring new breed of designers in the industry as Chairperson of Fashion Pakistan Council.
While Deepak remembers quite well becoming aware of fashion for the first time when he was in New York, he considers fashion as a blank canvas.
'I became aware of fashion when I was really young. I remember being very fashionable when I was a kid. I had a pop swatch, Reebok tennis shows, neon friendship bands and the entire era of Boy George and Madonna for inspiration. Well that's when baggy pants came out; it was a big deal to have them. It was all about the fact that whether you're wearing two pleats or you're wearing three pleats and then it became one pleat. Well, then I went to college in New York, and then used to merchandise for Maises and stuff like that. I was only 19 years old, he recalls. 'You're the artist and you've got the paints and paint brush and you can paint what you like and that's the beauty of this blank canvas of fashion, he says.
Stella McCartney, for instance, might design clothes that are meant to last and pieces that aren't going to get burnt, but Perwani picks a hole in the former's mantra, somewhat agreeing to disagreeing, thinking fashion to be different for making it big in the industry.
'I think fashion is a very fickle business. Fashion designers are creative people and tend to be very sensitive. They tend to be bipolar. What really holds the power or the muscle is the design at the end of the day. Your respectability or strength or sustainability only comes from design. We believe in one thing and most designers understand that you're only as good as your last collection. Anybody can come and take the throne next season. That's what makes you a mover and shaker, says Perwani.
'If we look at the dynamics of fashion, I used to think fashion regurgitates every decade but now it regurgitates after seven years. y that I mean same trends coming in again. Not just locally but even internationally, we've seen designers appear and disappear; sometimes you slow down, sometimes you're tired — it's all about sustaining creative design. That's what makes you go forward, says the ace designer.
No matter how you may feel about him, if there's someone who has attained a mark in Pakistani fashion, chances are he or she will have worked with Deepak Perwani. And when he organises a fiesta like Fashion Pakistan Week, they all come. About introducing new breed of designers since the time he has joined fashion industry, he says, 'I've been trying to introduce as many designers as I can for a long time now. Pretty much every successful label right now — Amna Aqeel, Nauman Arfeen, Zaheer Abbass, Sania Maskatiya, Deepak n Fahad, Adnan Pardesy, Sanam Chaudhry — it's a long list! We're very proud we managed to put young designers, gave them space, importance and just everything to shine.
Although he is one of the few powerhouse menswear designers in Pakistan, who comes up with an entire men's wear collection every season rather than just few pieces, Perwani has not been nominated for the Lux Style Awards for quite a few years now whilst many young designers with only a few jackets to their credit are up for nomination. 'We don't submit our nominations to Lux Style Awards. We have seven Lux Style Awards — a record for winning the most awards as a designer. We're kind of done. It's rather like agree to disagree. We need to believe in system and system needs to revolve and evolve. I'm not going to say (it's about) nepotism but it's redundant. If you say your award is credible, the award must also evolve and redefine itself every decade. You cannot put a young and very senior designer in one space and insult one, Perwani contends.
While designers have been busy producing and designing lawn for loyal shoppers for the past few years, including Perwani, we are glad to take a break from the lawn fever and have something new to hear about. This ultimate Capricorn Goat, who is a master at multitasking has not forethought about running into lawn wars this season, keeping an interest towards luxury lawn because, according to him, lawn people are generally in a hurry, they might have come to the domestic market for lawn but their mentality still lingers for 'kapra market (cloth market), just to sell the cloth. 'We did lawn eight years ago. I don't take credit for it but I think why Orient Textile Mills is Orient Textile Mills is because of Deepak Perwani, which was a great collaboration and as label, we did wonders for each other. I'll be honoured to say they were the best people to work with.
Also making a successful debut in television dramas as an actor with Kadoorat in 2013 alongside Sanam Saeed and Soteli in 2014 alongside Sabreen Hisbani, Perwani feels he would have been an actor if not a designer. 'If I wouldn't have been a designer, I would've been an actor. I'm a very decent actor — at least that's what I'm told. Taking part in all those dance competitions during my school times, I also did a biscuit ad when I was a kid.
Talking about his education, he says, 'Well till about three years ago, I was very proud of the fact that I was a college dropout, but hey I've graduated! I've done BBA in Marketing and Advertising.
Where Deepak Perwani has launched his online store for Doha buyers after doing a show at Pakistan Fashion Week Doha, he concludes, 'It's very important to be a force to reckon with.