Go­ing it alone

Friday - - Society -

Keen to stake out his own turf, Naeem opened his own stu­dio in Bev­erly Hills. “It was a suc­cess and I made my first mil­lion dol­lars when I was 24,’’ says Naeem, whose dresses sell for up­wards of $2,000 (Dh7,345 ).

Ask Naeem about the fash­ion de­sign process, and he says it al­ways starts with a fan­tasy born from the imag­i­na­tion or the influences around you. “I de­sign ev­ery­thing from the fab­ric to the em­broi­dery to the shape of the dress. From start to fin­ish, it can take about 400 to 600 peo­ple on two con­ti­nents to put a col­lec­tion to­gether.”

Naeem loves mak­ing cus­tomised fan­tasies for his clients: Marissa Mayer, CEO of Ya­hoo! wanted a wed­ding dress in­spired by snowflakes. He cre­ated a one-of-a-kind dress for her us­ing em­broi­dery, lay­ers of tex­tures, feath­ers, pais­leys and pearls. In a wed­ding dress for Cas­san­dra Huy­sen­truyt who mar­ried Brad Grey, chair­man of Para­mount Pic­tures, he even em­broi­dered the lin­ing of the dress with hand-cut rose petals.

“We think of ev­ery­thing! On another wed­ding dress we had poetry on the lin­ing, so that once the dress is re­moved, one could read the verses. Th­ese one of-a-kind dresses are ab­so­lutely mag­i­cal.”

Naeem de­signs for strong women, and so his dresses tend to be as­sertive but he points out that as a de­signer, he un­der­stands per­son­al­i­ties and recog­nises how much power to give the dress. “The dress doesn’t have to wear you; you have to wear the dress. If you look at Michelle – even though the dress was very strong – she had it in her con­trol. She re­ally car­ried that dress fab­u­lously – she was like the Queen of Amer­ica.”

Naeem’s cre­ation for Lady Gaga was a one-shoul­der gown in a dra­matic print that the Queen of Pop wore when she toured In­dia in 2011. It was much talked about and un­der­scored his tal­ents.

Says the de­signer: “You have to work hard and you have to re­alise noth­ing will be handed to you. You have to make things hap­pen for you.

“My grand­fa­ther made all the em­broi­deries, now they are made by my fa­ther and his brothers in In­dia. My sons will be the fourth gen­er­a­tion in the busi­ness.”

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