Few, dare to be different. Especially, in an extremely conservative society. Even fewer, find acclaim in doing so. She’s one of them. Nabila. Rebellious and revolutionary. Known for defying conventions, Nabila’s ventured into uncharted terrain and walked her way to victory as Pakistan’s top hair stylist and make-up artist. Today, she’s a name well-regarded in the international fashion scene for her unique work.
For a person whose made her mark in the make-up business over an impressive 20 years, Nabila comes across as rather soft-spoken and unassuming. Pride is a thing that’s not on her palette. A rare virtue in the world of high-fashion, where people wear ego on their sleeve. She allows her work to speak for her. Work that’s visionary, and challenges all that’s in vogue. An attitude, that’s way ahead of times.
“I’m a bit of a rebel inside and it shows in my work,” she says in a candid chat with Weekend. “I don’t follow trends. In my mind, there is no ‘in’ or ‘out’. I do what I feel, as long as it’s appropriate and suitable.”
No doubt, Nabila’s work is seen as timeless and classic, sometimes even shocking. Never an element that makes it dated. Her brand, Nabila, is seen as contemporary, yet with a constant but tenuous link to the future. Her look is considered subtle and subdued, where necessary, outlandish, dramatic and theatrically creative. “She chooses to be just the opposite,” as a designer puts it. “If international trends dictate a glossy look, Nabila will go for matt.”
Nabila’s start was small and humble in Pakistan, but success came in fast. Today, her clientele consists of the who’s who and the rich and famous in Pakistan. To name a few, designers – Rizwan Beig, Sana Safinaz; photographers – Tapu Javeri, Khawar Riaz; models – Iraj, Amna Haq, Vinny; film stars – Babra Sharif, Reema, Meera, Resham; musicians – Junoon, Fusion. She’s endorsed global brands such as Sunsilk and Bobbi Brown.
Nabila was in Dubai recently to accept an award for 20 years of expertise as a stylist. The fashion industry acknowledges her as a stylist that thinks years ahead of her counterparts in the west. But the road to success was rugged, rather tough in a traditional society.
“Being revolutionary has been an uphill task for me. I started in 1985 in Karachi,” she says as she speaks of how she somehow managed to embrace modernity without being offensive, by staying within the boundaries set by society. “I follow my instinct. People follow it only a few years later. One had to keep educating the media,” she adds.
While in Dubai, Nabila endorsed leading cosmetic brand, Bobbi Brown, at a session in Dubai Villa Moda store where she transformed a model into a simple, yet gorgeous bride. “Creating a simple look isn’t easy. One has to work very hard at it,” she says, explaining that make-up is not meant to mask, but instead bring out natural beauty. “The look should seem almost effortless. The minute you see make-up, you’ve lost the point,” she says.
She doesn’t like the fact that brides are dressed up. The focus for the modern bride is simplicity. “It (heavy make-up) was done 40 years ago, when women probably did not have personality and confidence in one’s self and looks. But today’s modern woman doesn’t require it. She is confident, conscious of her individuality and wears a positive attitude. So why cover up her personality. Why not bring out her natural best instead?,” she asks.
For the modern bride, Nabila creates a concept with an expensive Japanese outfit. “I picked it up because of its simple design that’s neither flashy nor elaborate,” she explains after finishing the session.
The final look, designed with Nabila’s eye for detail, was gorgeous, creative, beautiful. Almost subdued with an ivory white base that complimented the model’s beautifully tanned skin tone. The colour of the bride’s dress was a pale sage that melted into a delicate wrap of silk organza. The shoes were a satiny dusky pink with a little sheen on the strap. The necklace was one with pale green topaz stones. Her hair was off her face, with the ends bleached to blend with the mood of the clothes. Held in place with a diamond hairpin, an antique from Nabila’s family heirloom. Diamond-studded earnings to go with it. And make-up that complimented the beauty of the simple, modern bride.
“To look good naturally, one needs to have good skin habits, healthy diet, great bone structure and not wear too much make-up,” she says. Her belief is “Cultivate a positive look, maintain balance, pursue your passions – and love yourself the way you are.” It’s a collective philosophy that permeates her business, her brand and most of all her life. And it’s a way of living she advocates.
With two decades of path-breaking experience in tow, Nabila is now a role model for the younger generation in Pakistan. She is known to pick up young talent, and impart training to make the industry a better place. No, she isn’t worried about losing the limelight in the bargain.
The Bridal Look
A beautiful wedding day look starts with the right cleanse and moisturiser, follow with hydrating eye cream under eyes.
Lighten undereye circles with the creamy concealer kit and even out skin tone with foundation that matches skin in natural light. Set with loose powder for a polished look that lasts.
Warm up skin by sweeping on bronzing powder with the bronzer brush. Skip bronzer if you’re especially fair.
Define brows using eye brow brush, eye shadow base and highlighter on browbone. Choose bone or vanilla for darker skins. Apply medium eye shadow shades like heather, slate or sableon lower lid. Or, add pretty shimmer with snow, petal, champagne or beige shimmer wash eye shadow.
For long-lasting liner, line eyes with ultra fine eye liner brush and long-wear gel eyeliner. Or, use a dampened eye liner brush to apply charcoal, navy or gunmetal eye shadow. Brush lashes with two coats of lash glamour mascara.
Dust blush on the apples of cheeks, blending up towards the hairline, then downwards to soften. Add a pop of brighter blush just on the apples of cheeks. For a pretty glow, dust on shimmer brick compact using the face blender brush.
Brighten your normal lip shade with pink or rose lip colour on top. Line lips after applying lipstick for soft definition and to keep colour from feathering. Finish with gloss for added shine.