Umar Saeed prints

Prints Charming by Umer Saeed

Umar Saeed printsFifteen years ago, textile giant AlKaram struck gold when it joined hands with designer duo of Sana and Safinaz to design its lawn prints.

Continuing in the same vein, they have now formed an alliance with designer Umer Sayeed. Two days before the launch of his prints, The Express Tribune managed to corner the elusive designer for a brief Q and A about his journey from exclusive couture into the mainline markets.

How was your experience of designing fabric?

The short answer would be challenging. Designing is a very intimate, private process for me. It’s very rare that I do personal consultations; when I do, I charge for it. Designing prints, however, was the polar opposite. There are so many people involved and everyone has a say in the matter. For example, I want a motif to be of a particular scale but the person who transfers the pattern onto the computer says it cannot be of that scale. I don’t get that. What is worse is you don’t really know who you’re designing for.

What was the most challenging aspect?

Keeping other people in mind (he said most sheepishly). In order to be successful at print design, the collection must have something that appeals to everyone. The young, the old and everyone in the middle!

Your source of inspiration?

It’s still me who designed it. I’ve always been inclined towards ‘pretty’ things, especially if they are composed well. Take miniature paintings for example. Every motif is planned from placement to scale, like they say ‘God is in the detail’. Similarly, prints must be composed; they must have a frame that contains the design.

How much creative control did you really have?

Creative control is perhaps one of two reasons why I haven’t designed fabric for the 20-odd years that I’ve been in the industry. I want to ask you, do you think I’d compromise on creative control?

What was the other reason?

Like I said earlier, till this point, I didn’t see myself as a designer who could design for everyone.

Having said that, being a part of the industry for more than two decades and of course, with a little help from my friends, I thought the time was right.

Who is the model in the catalogue?

First, I categorically did not want a ‘brand ambassador’. Let me tell you why. It has to be about the fabric first, how many ‘brands’ are actually marketing the fabric? Second, if anything, the designer who has created the prints should be marketed. If between the two, the exhibit isn’t successful, I don’t see how a model can ensure its success. Even though I don’t doubt that celebrity endorsements go a long way in promoting a brand, but they shouldn’t be the unique selling point. The model was flown in from Dubai. Her name is Dana.

Is there hope for an Umer Sayeed flagship store?

No. I’m not that business savvy. I don’t believe one can provide that much without compromising on the quality of the garments.

Who do you think is the most promising lawn brand of this year?

Of the new ones, I believe Nomi Ansari and Wardha Saleem. Ansari’s colour palette is flawless and Saleem, I feel, has immense potential. Her designs are truly good but I didn’t agree with her campaign. It’s a learning process, she too will learn.

Your lawn is?

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