Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, known to the fashion world as HSY, the award-winning Pakistani designer, talks heritage, inspiration and couture.
From model to designer, HSY keeps his focus on the Middle East
How did you get your break? I started as a model, then I got into fashion direction and choreography, and finally I attended the Pakistan School of Fashion Design, which is affiliated with the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.
What makes your pieces special? The embroideries from Pakistan and the regions are so rich and delicious. I honestly think that no one else in the world has the kind of embroideries we have. I'm not only a designer, but a revivalist: we revive old embroidery techniques and we've tried to put a little of everything together. The overall effect, I hope, is classic glamour.
Who buys your clothes? We have tried to make the collection for autumn/winter 2008 very, very regional. I think if you want to buy Donna Karan you'll go to New York, if you want Balenciaga you'll go to Paris and if you want Versace you'll go to Italy. The Middle Eastern woman has her own culture, her own heritage and she's got her own rules and regulations that she wants to follow. And she wants to look the part: she wants to look glorious and glamorous, but she still wants to retain her culture. We will always have a western feel too, and a fusion of sportswear, because this woman is also vacationing: she's going to St Tropez, she's hanging out in Sicily, she's lunching in Brazil. She's a jet-setter and she needs a full wardrobe, so there is a bit of everything, but it's all culturally inclined.
Do you see yourself as an international or a regional designer? We sell in Pakistan, Dubai, Manchester and we're going to set something up in London and New York soon. But right now we are focusing on the GCC: our first store is opening in Dubai soon, our second will follow in Abu Dhabi and then we'll branch out to Qatar, Bahrain, Riyadh and Jeddah. I'm a designer living and working out of Dubai and Pakistan. I have my finger on the pulse in this region. This woman is the woman I want to cater to right now. Later on, if I want to cater to the western woman, it will be a woman who wants a slice of this region. If she wants a cotton dress or wide trousers, then yes, we can do that, but it will be with a regional twist.
Apart from Pakistani embroideries, what inspires you? For me, the experience of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the most exotic in the world. In terms of artists, I love the work of the late Ismail Gulgee, who in my opinion, was Pakistan's greatest artist.