Fashion house from Pakistan will make its mark in Dubai

ABU DHABI. MAR18.Fashion Designer Hassan Sheheryar Yasin backstage at Abu Dhabi Fashion Week,Mar.,18.(photo by Stephen Lock / The Nation)
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Anealla Safdar DUBAI // When he was 19 and working as a fashion model, the Pakistani fashion designer Hassan Sheheryar Yasin was blinded in a car accident. He underwent surgery to have his face repaired and eyesight restored. But when it returned, it was accompanied by another kind of vision. "I wanted to be able to live and do what I was passionate about," said Mr Yasin. "I wasn't going to sit and do a desk job. Fashion is something I always wanted to do. I like to see women in beautiful clothes. What better way to do it than do it yourself?

"I wanted to do more than just be a model." Fourteen years later, in late December, Mr Yasin's South Asian fashion house will take another step forward when it opens its first store in Dubai. HSY, the fashion label he launched in 2000, will initially offer eight collections at its two-storey space on Al Sufouh Road in the Jumeirah Beach area. The company has been selling its creations - intricate Pakistani and Middle East-inspired designs peppered with western influences - at stores in Dubai since 2003, but recently decided to concentrate more on the Gulf.

"We have a strong clientele in the Middle East," said Mr Yasin. "The time has come to sell our presence here." Strong sales at Abu Dhabi Fashion Week last March gave some indication of how western customers would react to the clothes, said Afshan Samee, HSY's Middle East representative. "We gave people a taste and took 40 pieces with us and they flew out. It was stuff you can wear over capris and with tights. They were tunics and tops and they were gone within an hour.

"These collections should sit well with these kind of clients." Mr Yasin was born in Islamabad but raised in various places around the world. He graduated from the Pakistan School of Fashion Design in Lahore. "At heart I'm a big eastern boy. I like our eastern sense of things," he said. "Our culture is so rich, it's thousands of years old. It excites me very much to be a part of that and to be able to transcend it to New York. So many cultures are losing their identity, we need to keep ours."

Modesty is a key element in his designs, he said. "It's about the mystery of an eastern woman. She doesn't necessarily need to show everything she has in the first five seconds. The elegance is in not showing, I have always retained that." Others who are working in fashion welcomed Mr Yasin's new shop. "At this point fashion is opening up in Dubai, we have Dubai Fashion Week now," said Raakhee Raipanchola, an Indian designer based in Dubai. "The store is a brilliant idea."

Rani Musurat, a British-Pakistani designer who lives in Abu Dhabi, said: "This shop is what we have we have been waiting for. HSY's style is so unique and crosses so many borders. I can't wait to check it out."