• Fri
  • Aug 1, 2014
  • Updated: 4:53pm

Beauty and the East

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 April, 2012, 12:00am

As you might expect of a former model who strutted the catwalks from New York to Lahore in the early 1990s, Aliya Zaidi's wardrobe is a festival of colour, embracing both the styles of the wild West and the conservative East.

'I am a big fan of Dolce & Gabbana, the clothes fit like a glove and remain classics in my opinion,' says the mother of two. 'I also love the over-the-top drama of Alexander McQueen and Jean Paul Gaultier. I adore Tom Ford's design sense and the attitude that he has brought to fashion.'

She reels off a list of those behind the seams in Karachi and Lahore. 'Pakistani designers like Umar Sayeed, Faiza Samee, Shamaeel, Ayesha Farook Hashwani star in my cupboards. And I love long, printed saris from Indian designer Satya Paul,' she says.

'Pakistani fashion stems from heavy and ornate bridal pieces. Weddings are decadent and the bride and groom are outfitted in the finest silks, embroidery and jewellery. A mother works on a daughter's trousseau for years. Intricate handmade embroidery has been part of our fashion culture for hundreds of years and has trickled down from the royals to the masses. People in Karachi and Lahore will dish out thousands of dollars on couture.'

The shimmer of Zaidi's rhinestone-studded shoes - the trinity of Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Giuseppe Zanotti - lines multiple-tiered shelves.

'I love colour. A bright dress not only brightens up your day, but also lifts your spirit. There is nothing like rolling out of the house in a bright fuchsia number on a dull, rainy Hong Kong morning. I love Missoni, Milly and Pucci for statement pieces.'

Her favourite accessories are trinkets that carry sentimental value, including a Tiffany pendant her husband gave her on their first anniversary. She also has a soft spot for everyday silver hoops. 'I have been wearing hoops since middle school. My Rolex means a lot to me, as my mother wore it every day until she passed away. She also gave me her gold coin earrings, which I think are classic. Passing down jewellery is part of my culture, and I plan to do the same for my daughter.'

For the New York fashionista in her, she has monogrammed necklaces from Chanel, shades from Tom Ford, perfumes by Jean Paul Gaultier and handbags from Bottega Veneta.

But having risen to fame in Pakistan, where she was voted one of the nation's most fashionable people by the local press earlier this year, Zaidi carries the Eastern aesthetic with ease. She marries ethnic jewellery with Western ensembles. It is an art she has perfected with time.

'I've been heavily into gold accessories for the past two years. I love old school Kundan and polki jewellery [large, chunky Southeast Asian pieces]. It can dress up a Western outfit or enhance traditional gear.

'I am infamous for changing outfits at my parties,' she adds with a laugh. 'I am very much into drama. I like to have one dress for receiving the guests and one for enjoying the party. Clothes are my passion, and I have no qualms admitting it. My closet consists of items I fell in love with 20 years ago. And I still love them.'

To Zaidi, wardrobe is the ultimate personal statement. 'What you wear should reflect you - an outfit should complement your personality,' she says. 'A loud and busy print is so not becoming on a woman with a quiet disposition. You should be able to guess what I'm like from what I wear.'

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