Be­ing Dif­fer­ent: Nas­reen Akhtar

Enterprise - - CONTENTS - Nas­reen Akhtar

Nas­reen Akhtar, a de­signer of silk painted dresses, runs Ner­ishe’ in Karachi. Colours could not get any­more vi­brant than they do in Nas­reen’s lounge as she ex­hibits for friends and art lovers. Amid the flow­ing silks and chif­fons, En­ter­prise bor­rows some mo­ments from her for a brief chat.

What in­spired you to take up the art of silk paint­ing?

I have al­ways been in­ter­ested in art but never took it up se­ri­ously till I went to Ja­pan as a re­sult of my hus­band’s post­ing there. He works for PIA. Ja­pan is one of the places in the world where there is art ev­ery­where, in ev­ery cor­ner. That is when I found my in­cli­na­tion and took up Ja­panese art cour­ses.

Then in Ger­many, I found these schools where they taught silk paint­ing. I im­me­di­ately joined and for the first time saw colours flow­ing on silk. I was thrilled by the wa­ter-based colours; as you put a drop on silk, it flows and then other colours come and blend. It was 1989 when I started do­ing this, since then I have al­ways stuck to silk paint­ing and no other form of art.

How were you en­cour­aged to work in Pak­istan?

In Europe, silk paint­ing is more on cush­ions, wall hang­ings and men’s ties, but when I came over here and had my first dis­play of work on cush­ions, lamp shades and wall hang­ings, my friends said that we can only have one set of these things in our home but if you do it on clothes we can wear them ev­ery­day. So, I started mak­ing scarves, then moved on to du­pat­tas and saris and now dresses.

How dis­tinctly do you see silk paint­ing among the fab­ric paint­ing trends?

Gen­eral fab­ric paint­ing can also be done on cot­ton; they do not show or shine or stand out much. There is a big in­dus­try of fab­ric colours but the silk colours that are from France de­mand a proper pro­ce­dure of steam­ing, wash­ing and dry clean­ing to get per­ma­nent. Once it is done; they are so soft that you can­not feel it is paint on silk. It stands out fairly dis­tinctly.

So where does your art stand in Pak­istan?

I think I am very pop­u­lar with my friends, as you can see. So I am very happy with what I am do­ing and my friends are very happy with it too.

How par­tial are you to your own art pieces?

Just that they are to­tally dif­fer­ent from any­thing, any­one else is do­ing.

Do you think that there is any par­tic­u­lar seg­ment of women who are at­tracted to your art pieces?

Well, I would say that ev­ery­body is. When I ex­hib­ited at the Expo Cen­tre there were women from all walks of life in the big crowd. So, I con­cluded all those women would be in­ter­ested in my art pieces, but the prob­lem is that pure silk, pure chif­fon and im­ported paints are all ex­pen­sive. Ev­ery­body can­not af­ford it, other­wise my clothes would be more pop­u­lar with them.

What is your brand­ing strat­egy?

My brand is called Ner­ishe’. I am work­ing on all va­ri­eties of dresses, scarves and du­pat­tas. Right now I am hav­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion in Dubai. I will see the re­sults and do it even more pro­fes­sion­ally af­ter that.

Do you re­gard cloth­ing as a so­cial mes­sage and what is the mes­sage that your clothes con­vey?

My so­cial mes­sage would be, ‘Be Dif­fer­ent’!

On the whole, are you pos­i­tive about your ex­pec­ta­tions from your ef­forts?

Cer­tainly, I am very pos­i­tive. I have plans to start ven­tur­ing out from Dubai and will go to the USA

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