Make-up mae­stro

“My styling phi­los­o­phy is go­ing sim­ple, ef­fec­tive, suit­able and ver­sa­tile”, says Na­bila Maq­sood – make-up artist.

Gulf Times Community - - FRONT PAGE - By Muham­mad Asad Ul­lah

It is very in­ter­est­ing to see Pak­istani fash­ion in­dus­try seething with a fresh kind of en­ergy – younger, rest­less, re­bel­lious, and em­brac­ing its vet­er­ans and grit­ti­ness. Even if you are un­fa­mil­iar with her name, chances are that you have seen her work if you fol­low Pak­istani en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try or Bol­ly­wood.

Na­bila Maq­sood is a Pak­istani makeup-artist and stylist, who is master­mind be­hind celebri­ties’ iconic looks in editorials, red car­pets, ramps or on-screen. She has been a pil­lar of the beauty in­dus­try for over three decades. In fash­ion, make-up artists and stylists pri­mar­ily fall into two cat­e­gories; per­sonal stylists, who keep celebri­ties and clients de­velop a sig­na­ture look and ed­i­to­rial stylists, who cre­ate aes­thet­ics for mag­a­zine photo shoots and ad­ver­tise­ments. You can­not con­tain Na­bila in one cat­e­gory. Wear­ing a Valentino or Dolce and Gab­bana’s ethe­real sil­hou­ettes is of no use, if your hair and make-up does not com­pli­ment your look as a pack­age. And that is Na­bila’s ex­per­tise.

Na­bila’s ca­reer in make-up be­gan in 8x8 make shift sa­lon in the ser­vant quar­ter at her house, charg­ing cus­tomers only PKR30 for

To know where to stop is the key. Even with plas­tic sur­geons, I would work with them closely to get the re­sults that would be ab­so­lutely nat­u­ral and be­liev­able

hair­cuts in 1980s. Fast for­ward to to­day and she is the most soughtafter make-up artist, stylist and an in­ter­na­tional icon.

Once rel­e­gated to the back­stage ar­eas of fash­ion shows and award cer­e­monies, in re­cent years make-up artists and stylists have stepped out from be­hind the cur­tain and into the lime­light. Her sprints in­volve a dozen shows a sea­son, every ed­i­to­rial shoot hap­pen­ing in Pak­istan, a team that swells to 50 at the height of a fash­ion week, back­stage dolling up the mod­els and her ir­re­sistible in­ter­na­tional prod­uct line ‘Zero Makeup’, which has achieved a bril­liant and dernier cri sta­tus since the drop of her first min­i­mal­is­tic pow­der in 2017. ‘Zero Makeup’ show­cases both her ex­tra­or­di­nary abil­ity to make ‘ex­treme makeup’ uni­ver­sal in its ap­peal, wear­a­bil­ity and her cease­less eye for what and who is new.

She has been the make-up artist and stylist to ev­ery­one from orig­i­nal su­per­mod­els like Va­neeza Ahmed and Na­dia Hus­sain, both known Pak­istani mod­els, to Shraddha Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Anil Kapoor and Rad­hika Apte, all Bol­ly­wood ac­tors. Fur­ther, she has worked for Man­ish Mal­ho­tra, well­known fash­ion de­signer from In­dia, who re­cently had a show in Doha, and IIFA (In­ter­na­tional In­dian Film Academy Awards) Awards 2018. Na­bila’s vi­sions for beauty in the fu­ture are colour­ful in a dif­fer­ent sense.

Com­mu­nity re­cently sat down with her to run the ga­mut of the rich and beau­ti­ful jour­ney in the in­dus­try.

Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in fash­ion?

I didn’t know that. But, all the things I was do­ing as a child def­i­nitely dic­tated that. Now I re­alise that they were such big signs. If I were my mother, I would’ve known at the age of seven that this child is dif­fer­ent. I used to be very much in­volved in images, pre­sent­ing, and style. I also used to be cau­tious of how peo­ple around me and I looked.

Were you sup­ported by your fam­ily?

I don’t think my fam­ily re­ally dis­cov­ered my tal­ent. But, when I dis­cov­ered it and had thought of pur­su­ing it pro­fes­sion­ally, there was no op­po­si­tion, if that’s what you mean by sup­port.

What and when was your first big break?

I used to do hair­cut for friends and fam­ily, when I was only 11. I never worked for any­one. I started it with just an 8x8 room with one mirror and one chair at my house in ser­vant quar­ters. When clients started to book and started to pay, I re­alised, oh re­ally! you want to pay me for this, I must be re­ally good. That was the big­gest break, when I recog­nised that I’m onto some­thing good. But then, within seven years a multi­na­tional com­pany signed me up for the next 10 years for en­dors­ing and con­sult­ing one of the brands. That I think gave me a lot of pub­lic ex­po­sure.

What is your styling phi­los­o­phy?

It is sim­ple, ef­fec­tive, suit­able and ver­sa­tile. What­ever is re­quired at some point. I mean less is more, but that doesn’t mean bor­ing.

What is one trend that you love right now? And one you can’t stand?

The one I can’t stand is over the top. I can’t stand big hair, fake nails and stuff like that. Ev­ery­one’s now look­ing for fake and con­structed noses and end up look­ing the same. Can’t re­ally stand that! I like di­ver­sity and peo­ple look­ing nat­u­ral.

Does this mean that you will not rec­om­mend for a cos­metic surgery?

I def­i­nitely would. I’m an im­age con­sul­tant and I rec­om­mend peo­ple who re­quire such things [Not for make-up only]. But, that would be more cor­rec­tive or to fix some­thing that re­ally both­ers you. To know where to stop is the key. Even with plas­tic sur­geons, I would work with them closely to get the re­sults that would be ab­so­lutely nat­u­ral and be­liev­able.

Is there some­one in par­tic­u­lar who in­spires your work?

Vi­dal Sas­soon was the [Bri­tishAmer­i­can] hair­styl­ist, who touched the lives of many suc­cess­ful peo­ple in the in­dus­try. And I’m one of them. I ad­mire his phi­los­o­phy and work a lot. Oth­er­wise, not much. I’ve paved my own way.

Can you tell us about the cre­ative process for looks that goes be­hind a fash­ion or award show?

From a fash­ion to an award show or client, con­ser­va­tive or a girl next door. You have to give what’s re­quired for the oc­ca­sion. For the per­son it should be suit­able and some­thing they can own it. And then you still push the bar a lit­tle bit. You guide them in a di­rec­tion and stop where you think it’s get­ting un­com­fort­able for them. That’s what we do re­ally well. For fash­ion weeks, we work with so many de­sign­ers, who have their own in­spi­ra­tions for their col­lec­tions. We have very quick changes. We some­times even just have eight min­utes to change 32 girls and we try and ac­com­mo­date all of that. We try to make a state­ment and we try and do some­thing which is a cur­rent trend and then adapt it into our own sen­si­bil­ity.

“While I un­der­stand that stars need to be glam­orous and need to make a state­ment so that their im­age is main­tained but ef­fort­less­ness is very im­por­tant and – miss­ing that – is a big no-no”

Can you tell us about an ex­pe­ri­ence with a star that you would rather for­get?

Some­times, some stars are very un­pro­fes­sional. The fame gets to their head and they think that they can be­have in a cer­tain man­ner. But, I feel to be a good hu­man is more im­por­tant. Since we are very pro­fes­sional, we don’t re­ally have bad ex­pe­ri­ences!

What is a big no-no when it comes to dress­ing celebri­ties for the red car­pet?

Be­ing ef­fort­less is very im­por­tant. Be­ing stiff and not tak­ing your­self lightly is a big no-no. While I un­der­stand that stars need to be glam­orous and need to make a state­ment so that their im­age is main­tained but ef­fort­less­ness is very im­por­tant and – miss­ing that – is a big no-no.

How do you ap­proach a new client? What ques­tions do you ask them?

I like to know their fash­ion per­son­al­ity. When they walk in, I no­tice their height, weight, stature, pos­ture, the way they walk, their skin, look at the hair and then I ask them their life­style ques­tions in­clud­ing how much time do they spend on them­selves, what’s their pro­fes­sion, which prod­ucts they’re al­ready us­ing and if they’re open to this and that. Fur­ther I look into for what comes nat­u­rally to them and how much I can push them. Open mind­ed­ness is some­thing that I gauge upon and give them some­thing suit­able, keep­ing in mind all that I ob­served.

How was your ex­pe­ri­ence with Bol­ly­wood stars at IIFA? Do you think there’s a room for greater col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the two coun­tries?

It was my first ex­pe­ri­ence at IIFA and they were so lov­ing and wel­com­ing. They’re just like us, they speak the same lan­guage, same skin tone, same hair and same sen­si­bil­ity. It’s sad to see why there’s a di­vide. If peo­ple are so close, why keep­ing them apart still.

Who or what does you think hold the movers and shak­ers be­hind for col­lab­o­ra­tions?

I think it is just what it is. But peo­ple to peo­ple, it’s won­der­ful es­pe­cially in this in­dus­try I was warmly wel­comed. Even now, Man­ish was amaz­ing and Aish­warya was warm and hum­ble.

You’ve styled al­most every celebrity of Pak­istan fash­ion and en­ter­tain­ment fra­ter­nity. How do you stand your ground?

I’ve been work­ing for 33 years now. I’ve seen a gen­er­a­tion grow up and change. I’ve seen peo­ple who used to come for mod­el­ing au­di­tions be­come big stars. I’ve seen DJ’s be­come su­per­stars. I’ve seen peo­ple who have grown up, got­ten mar­ried, have kids, have chil­dren get­ting mar­ried. I think what I’ve learnt over the pe­riod of time is that you’re re­spon­si­ble of the con­se­quences for the choices you make. From films, sports, po­lit­i­cal per­son­al­ity, mod­els – yes! I’ve styled a lot of peo­ple and I take pride in that. It has been amaz­ing and in­spir­ing for oth­ers to see for how I man­aged and bal­anced ev­ery­thing and yet had a voice. I had a drive and a vi­sion and none of it was compromised along the way. I’m happy I can bal­ance my fam­ily and work.

How do you re­ally man­age your busy sched­ule and fam­ily at the same time?

In­tel­li­gence. You pri­ori­tise. I think it takes emo­tional in­tel­li­gence to do all of that.

Can we look for­ward to Na­bila in­tro­duc­ing ‘Zero Makeup’ to Doha?

Why not! Be­fore this in­ter­view, I met a dis­trib­u­tor here. I have a lot of women al­ready lov­ing the prod­uct and ask­ing where to buy and hope­fully soon it’ll be avail­able here. Be­cause the tones I’ve given are very neu­tral and it’s a very go-to pal­ette. I was late for the meet­ing and I was at the sev­enth floor. So, I just got ready in the el­e­va­tor. It’s for women who doesn’t want to look all made up and still want to look en­hanced. Its por­ta­ble, con­ve­nient and quick!

Do you think women should stop re­ly­ing on cos­met­ics and in­stead fo­cus on groom­ing their hair and skin nat­u­rally first?

Ab­so­lutely. I think when you come out of the shower, that’s when you need to look your best. And you need to plan your life for that. Which means good skin, good nails, man­i­cured nails, pedi­cured feet, not over weight and well toned. So ideally you should look the best when you get out of the shower and then ev­ery­thing else is a bonus. You work on your­self which means you look fan­tas­tic with­out any­thing and just en­hance your­self a lit­tle bit.

Three Pak­istani celebri­ties you love work­ing with?

They are Babra Sharif, Sadaf Kan­wal and Ali Za­far. Ali and Babra do a lot of home­work on their looks, gets in­volved with the shoot­ing process and are al­ways open to ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. Sadaf is very adapt­able. She looks good in west­ern and eastern both.

Three Bol­ly­wood celebri­ties you loved work­ing with at IIFA?

I can’t name just three. All of them were amaz­ing to work with. Say­ing it with all my heart and soul.

What’s next for Na­bila?

My next decade is com­pletely ded­i­cated to re­tail. While my sa­lons are do­ing re­ally well, my fo­cus is on build­ing the Zero brand.

Any mes­sage for the read­ers?

Dis­cover your own in­di­vid­ual style. Be unique, beau­ti­ful and con­fi­dent – to­day and al­ways!

COL­LAB­O­RA­TION: Na­bila, cen­tre, with Man­ish Mal­ho­tra, left, and Aish­warya Rai Bachchan at Fash­ion Week­end Doha.

WITH STARS: Left, Na­bila, Kar­tik Aaryan, Dia Mirza, Karan Jo­har and Ayush­man Khur­rana at IIFA Awards 2018.

AT WORK: Na­bila work­ing on a model.

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