Imtaz Khaliq

16 Aug

“My style is not governed by bringing out a collection every season” – Imtaz Khaliq

Ms. Imtaz Khaliq is a UK based fashion designer whose heritage heralds from Pakistan. Born and brought up in the land of the Queen, she owes a lot of the inspiration to her designs to Alberta Ferretti and Issey Miyake. And sure enough, her keen eye for clean fashion has acquired her a high-profile clientele and additionally, her designs have been featured in various reputable fashion periodicals. Cosmopolitan has even gone on to deem her “one of the four top tailors in London.”  The fashionista par excellence speaks exclusively to Roshni Magazine and divulges details on how she started off and what led her to become one of the few women to uphold her craft in a male-dominated field even after 18 years.

How did you become interested in fashion designing?
When I was younger, I was always interested in making things and playing with fabrics, like making dolls clothes for school projects and I was good at it. By the time I got done with school, people at school, my teachers as well as family friends kept pushing me to pursue what I loved doing into a career.

Seeing that fashion designing was a male dominated field for approximately 18 years, did it in any way intimidate you as being one of the first female designers?
Not really; because it was a sort of a challenge. I wanted to be taken seriously and used it as a way to steer me on. It was difficult but it made me feel like there was no reason to not do what I was good at. I had to work really hard to get clients and have people take me seriously.

How would you define fashion?
Fashion is always changeable and seasonable. To me, clothes that are well made is fashionable. There is more of a craft with what I do. Things change very quickly so there are fads coming in and out but I do quality tailoring which is timeless. I’m judged more on the cuts, fits and the service. It’s more of a précised art for me.

What qualities make a successful fashion designer?
Someone who can maintain quality and some one who can design what the market requires.

Which styles do you believe are ‘in’ this season?
I work more on commission and not really in terms of catwalks. My style is not governed by bringing out a collection every season. I have more shapy silhouettes and good quality fabrics.

Coming from an Asian background and heritage and settling down in the UK, does that influence the type of designs you create for your customers? How?
I actually was born in the UK, so I don’t really have anything other than my upbringing which connects me to my roots. My parents come from Pakistan so, that had a bit of an impact. But, it’s not black and white. As soon as you see my clothes, you know it’s mine; it’s not like that. My influences have been mainly from the 40s and not really from my inheritance. Seeing that a lot of the people have a very modest way of dressing and are quite covered up in Pakistan, mine are a bit more modern. That is probably affected by my background, but not a lot of influences from the west. There are tailors in Pakistan who tend to make Asian clothes rather than Western.

What do you think looks best on a man and a woman?
Anything that is well-made for their figure and shape.

Do you believe that there are any styles which never go out of fashion? What are they?
Basically what I do. In tailoring, it seems to be timeless. Every piece of fashion tends to come out masculine suits, white, pin-stripes. Those seem to be perennial for the look. Some iconic women who looked good in what they wore. Some styles in the 80 and 90s with the classic look seem to never go out of fashion.

What are your inspirations when it comes to designing clothes?
I sort of tend to take inspiration from all sorts of things: architecture, films, going to boutiques, shops, talking to people, fabric etc.

Are there any accessories you would advice people to wear with your clothes?
A tailored crisp white shirt looks great with heels to elevate you a little bit. Just nothing outrageous. If anything stands out too much, take it off. You should be comfortable with whatever you wear.

Who are some of your favorite designers?
Well, when I’m at my studio, I used to go by what I saw on the streets. The ones I loved most were Alberta Ferretti and Issey Miyake because he’s from an architectural background. Tailoring has strong use of colouring from Alberta Ferretti, which is mainly what I am inspired by.

Seeing you’ve worked with quite a few high profile personalities such as Michelle Pfeiffer, are there any other celebrities you wish to work with?
Yeah, anybody, in fact! Someone who has more to do with politics or if I can dress people who can present their respective field to the world with my clothes. Johnny Depp would be fun to work with and people like that…people in the public eye.

What is your advice to those who wish to get into the field of tailoring or fashion designing?
I think the way I’ve done it is perseverance and honing your skills. Make sure you’re skilled enough and make sure you get clients and keep them. Keep your work fresh. Keep yourself interested. After 18 years, if you feel you need more to keep you interested, try and create something that looks good on a person which is continually do what I do.

~ Dimple Motwani
(August 2009)

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