It’s a title Natasha Kamal accepts for now, designer of modest fashion, but this “modest” label is not a round hole that this square peg of a tenacious pocket rocket fits into. bazaar met the youthful creative in the Personal Shopping suite at Debenhams, The Avenues where she delighted in exploring with us her eponymous sartorial collection.
Something that would not immediately spring to mind about a fashion label’s creative director is that they would hold two degrees in traditionally “straight” subjects like accounting or law. Natasha has both of these including all the requisite certificates with lots of letters and acronyms on them that imply “trust me I’m a boring professional”.
But Natasha wasn’t boring, she was bored or at the very least certainly miserable in the field. She had done what her father had asked her to and got her education, now she had to be true to herself and Natasha walked away in 2013.
Setting up her fashion business and producing her very first line took only six months. The Lahore launch itself was ground breaking, with select pieces being presented as installation art on the walls of a gallery, to be seen, touched and appreciated by the audience. Not “just a number” for buyers to list but as seminal works, each hand-finished garment important in its own way.
Of course, the main socialites and influencers in attendance were already dressed in Natasha Kamal; her natural gift for marketing and PR immediately evident. Natasha actually handles the business Instagram account herself, taking it back from the agency when she realized she was the one who could do it justice. Only Natasha Kamal the person truly knows Natasha Kamal the brand.
She is keen to maintain control of the vision she has for the company, with her laser-focused goal setting maintaining the brand’s considerable growth and development over the last four years. This is no small feat, being noticed, as Natasha herself says it is difficult in Pakistan, as there are a lot of designers. “Turn over a stone,” she laughs, “and there’s one there!” Ultimately the aim is to become a lifestyle brand, which is a lofty goal for a label in its infancy.
The team already produces jewelry to accessorize their styles on the runway because they can’t find the contemporary pieces that some of the designs demand. It seems prudent to take into consideration for the future that the Natasha Kamal customer is living a life of style that will further demand the Natasha Kamal aesthetic. Natasha acknowledges that her mother, as a working woman, has been a big influence on her career goals, and her brother is a big support too. Certain media publications have also welcomed establishing the label as a brand and this has been a real incentive for her to keep developing the business.
Natasha is innately diplomatic with clients and automatically slips into gentle-persuasion mode when describing how she deals with clients who demand items which are not entirely flattering. She has a very focused idea of what her lines should look like and what they represent; quality, style, elegance. It is important to her that her clothes have the ability to be transitional, taking her clients through their day and their many different roles of working woman, mother, wife, friend.
It is not just the clothes themselves that are transitional however. The collection shipped over for Debenhams Pret-a-Cover Buyer’s Lane to mark Modest Fashion Week, is an example of the very best that the label has to offer from reversible silk day wear (imagine Calvin Klein at its minimalist best) to one-off pieces with beading, embroidery and mirror work. Some of these pieces represent many hours of diligent hand-sewn work from the tailoring team, some of whom are ride-or-die and have been with Natasha from the very beginning.
The layering is very important within the collection, and there are some pieces which work as modest covers, all floaty and ethereal but throw them over a bikini and you get extremely glamorous beachwear; think J-Lo’s career making appearance in green silk chiffon Versace at the 2000 Grammys.
The attention to detail with these clothes really is astounding. Occasionally when shopping one can find that the perfect item is ruined by the lack of lining or the undergarment itself not adhering to modesty. It may not be a style choice; fashion cynics would say it is cheaper to half-line a garment, and it is highly unusual to see a garment lined with the very fabric it is made of rather than a cost-effective substitute.
It can be a technical nightmare to work with crepe georgette or silk chiffon and Natasha has managed to not only hand-bead onto these materials, without using backing or causing runs in the delicate fabric, but has fully lined these blouses with the same chiffon. It has to be seen to be believed and was the single longest endeavor to get exactly right but is probably as a customer the single most empathetic action that can be taken by a designer and greatly appreciated.
As a first foray into hosting Pret-a-Cover Buyer’s Lane Debenhams has done well curating the collections shown during Modest Fashion week; each designer has their own distinctive style and each collection is worth perusal. Natasha Kamal is an exciting new designer with definite ideas about quality and style and is tenacious in delivering excellence to the customer. Debenhams and Natasha Kamal make the perfect customer focused partnership.
Shop Natasha Kamal in Debenhams, Grand Avenue, The Avenues. Follow the Instagram account @natashakamalofficial for posts directly from Natasha. For more on Debenhams follow Instagram and Facebook @debenhamsmiddleeast.
Featured image shows Natasha Kamal, right, with hand-beaded blouses from the PACBL collection, left.