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Meet The Stylist Behind Pakistan’s Boho Chic

"I was the girl with the dupatta turban."

By Maha Asif Rizwan

Pakistan’s fashion scene has has been admired for fairly diverse reasons, but representation of boho chic wasn’t one of them. The designers took pride in the gota and mirror work, acing the couture scene, and when it came to pret, chic cottons ruled the streets. Pakistan truly got introduced to bohemian fashion through the veiled eyes of a female who draws three dots beside her kohl rimmed eyes – until one of those dots decided to go on a walk.

The spring of 2016 saw the launch of Generation’s collection called A Dot That Went For A Walk collection. Crafted by Khadija Rehman, the collection revived Pakistan’s hidden bohemian sense of rhapsody, with much help from its stylist Wazhma Awan. Having given boho chic its place in our fashion industry, we at Women’s Own sat down with the stylist herself to find out how she did it.

WO: How did you discover your sense of style?

Wazhma: I was a quiet and shy girl from Quetta, who moved to Lahore to do her A-Levels. I had always covered my head previously, however, Lahore with its hotter climate presented a challenge. This was the point that my sense of style really bloomed. I wanted to find a new way to cover my head so I went to Gulabo and found these floral and truck art inspired bandanas. As a girl who went from head scarves to bandanas, I was obviously criticized, but that didn’t stop me.

It did, however, bore me eventually. Then I got inspired from African women, who cover their heads, and started wearing my dupatta like a turban on my head with one side hanging on my shoulder. Since I was the only one doing that, it became my identity – I was the girl with the dupatta turban.

The story repeated when I wanted to wear a gharara at home. This is before they became trendy. Everyone including my mom thought I was crazy. Slowly, the vibrant colors, cuts, and the double eye liner I wore with three kohl dots beside my eyes became my identity.

WO: After ‘A dot that went for a walk’ debuted on the ramp, Pakistan’s take on boho chic got a much needed upgrade. What inspired you in styling the collection?

Wazhma: My soul is quintessentially bohemian; it’s who I am. Generation’s ‘A Dot That Went For A Walk’ collection is very close to my heart because that’s how I dress. It was my debut as a stylist and the reason I was chosen to style it was, because the brand knew that the look was a complete reflection of my personal style.

When I was styling it, Khadijah asked me what are we going to do with the feet and I said why do we need to do anything? I came up with these doriyaan that were tied on the models feet, accessorized with toe rings; I told her the models will go bare foot.

That collection allowed me to bring out what the definition of bohemian is. I love jewelry from top to bottom; it allowed me to show how girls can wear septum rings, lip rings, toe rings, and chooriyan. I feel really proud that this collection allowed Pakistanis to see what our version of boho chic actually looks like.

#lahorecalling💃🎉

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WO:  Pakistanis are starting to warm up to the bohemian fashion statement. What advice do you have for those willing to adopt the look?

Wazhma: We do really suppress the look in Pakistan. That said, you have to be born a free spirit to understand the bohemian style. Those are the people who define boho chic and I feel proud of being one of them. There aren’t any recommendations for how to go about it, it comes from within.

Everyone has a different threshold for how different they can dress themselves. Those who want to adopt the look can always find a style guide online and follow it. I myself don’t follow anything; I wear what I feel I should wear. Eventually, it does create problems because people don’t understand that fashion. However, then that is who you are and you can’t be any different than this, otherwise you’re not really living.

#dailygrindface

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WO: Won’t we achieve the boho chic look whenever we tie the eastern and western wear together?

Wazhma: Yes, if you’re wearing western clothes and you accessorize them with a pair of eastern ethnic earring or an eastern neck piece or arm band, it completely changes your look to a rather bohemian one.

That one piece from an opposing style changes your look.

Similarly if you’re wearing vibrant shalwar kameez or a long tunic and you layer it with a leather jacket and a scarf tied to your neck, it transforms your style into what we call boho chic. So it is the true harmony between eastern and western and that’s what boho chic is.

WO: It’s been more than a year since Generation launched their ‘A Dot That Went For A Walk’ collection. Since then, which other brands and designers do you think have opened their creative doors for a more relaxed bohemian collection?

Wazhma: The free spirited look was always there in Pakistan but it was muted. It wasn’t that pronounced or defined in the earlier years. The first project I did with Generation was ‘Manjeet Diaries’ and that’s what started it. Then ‘A Dot That Went For A Walk’ helped us bring the look in the limelight. Now everyone knows how to dress that way. They know it’s comfortable and easy, so people love it. Every other brand, whether its pret or lawn is now adopting the look. You will see traces of boho chic in lawn campaigns now. People are enjoying that sense of style.

Personally I think no one does boho chic quite like Generation. I have also worked on Rang Ja’s campaign with Abdullah Harris, which was also along the same lines, and I really enjoyed it. Other than that, I love Zara Shahjahan’s sophisticated take on the look and I look forward to working with her in the Future.