Rising from rubble: Meet the inspiring Pakistani designer who overcame an earthquake

The turn of events would eventually lead her to build her own luxury bridal brand. (Photo courtesy: Rani Emaan)
Updated 12 February 2018
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Rising from rubble: Meet the inspiring Pakistani designer who overcame an earthquake

LAHORE: With a life that has taken her around Pakistan, Farzeen Irtizaz of design house Rani Emaan had the upbringing of a child raised in the military due to her father's position as an officer.
“I come from Murree but grew up at the different stations (throughout the) four provinces of Pakistan,” she told Arab News. “Wherever my father was stationed, we (were there) to accompany him.”
Prior to 2005, Irtizaz found herself in the Bagh district of Kashmir due to her husband’s posting. It was there that the couple, along with their two young daughters, lived through the destruction of one of the most devastating earthquakes to hit that part of South Asia.
With a  magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter Scale and casualties that have been estimated to be close to 100,000, with similar numbers injured and catastrophic damage left in its wake, Irtizaz was forced to embrace a new life and did so with eyes newly opened.
“The quake defined the destiny of many lives and it thoroughly transformed my vision of life. For the very first time I felt being so ephemeral … here today and gone tomorrow.”
The destruction left Irtizaz with two fractured legs.
“Where (an) uncountable (number of) beings had to depart this world, I was thankfully fortunate enough to be a survivor and only suffered the fractures.
“The solid house that I passionately decorated was liquidized in fractions of seconds,” she said. “My two little girls along with my husband could not (find their way around the remains of our home). It was the soldiers around the house who (came) and pulled the whole family out from being stifled to death in debris.”
The unimaginable calamity required residents to be moved almost immediately. “After spending a disastrous morning, afternoon and evening in the vast ground that housed infinite dead bodies, army officers’ families were driven to the nearest safe place for them. For me it was Islamabad, my parental station.”
The turn of events would eventually lead her to build her own luxury bridal brand. “The stay at my parents’ place proved to be eventful as it (was the catalyst) for the establishment of Rani Emaan,” named after her first born daughter Emaan and that of her friend and partner Deeba’s, Rania.
“Rani Emaan’s first ever bridal gown was designed by me for a close family friend’s wedding while recovering in Islamabad,” she explained.
When asked if the brand itself functioned as a way of healing and rebuilding, the designer said: “Rani Emaan has always been a motivation for me. Beyond work, it supplemented my emotional strength and fortified my belief in my abilities and work ethic.”
Rani Emaan’s designs are known for their glamorous take on bridal wear without relying too heavyily on fleeting trends. There is a strong focus on elegance and keeping the cuts simple and focused on presenting the wearer in the best light. Her studios, both in Islamabad and in Washington, DC, where Deeba resides, are a mainstay stop for brides and wedding parties. When asked why she went with bridals initially, she said that designing bridals allows for her to tap into her appreciation of regal touches, throwbacks to times where royals influenced what kind of garments were worn on wedding days.
“(It is) thoroughly gratifying to have hands on experience for reincarnating (that) royal (feeling) in my work from the inception itself,” she said.


From genetics to fashion design, glamor is in Fidda Al-Marzouqi’s genes

A gown designed by Cabochon’s Fidda Al-Marzouqi.(Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2018
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From genetics to fashion design, glamor is in Fidda Al-Marzouqi’s genes

  • Fidda Al-Marzouqi talks about her label Cabochon
  • The label is known for its elegant evening gowns and fitted looks

DUBAI: She may have studied genetics and public health, but Fidda Al-Marzouqi has found success in a decidedly more creative field in her home town of Abu Dhabi.

The designer and founder of fashion atelier Cabochon spoke to Arab News about her personal style and the challenges she faced while making the transition to the studio.

“I’ve always loved anything to do with design and I’ve also always loved fashion, dressing myself up,” she said, explaining why she chose to test the waters of sartorial design while maintaining her day job as a senior health officer.

“A lot of people would always ask for my advice on how to style a certain look and my friends encouraged that, because I have natural flair — it’s not something I studied — I should pursue it.”

So, Al-Marzouqi hired a team of master cutters, tailors and hand embroiders and set up the brand Cabochon in 2016.

Named after a gemstone that has been shaped and polished as opposed to faceted, the label is known for its elegant evening gowns and fitted looks.

“It’s all about femininity. I love history, I love all aspects of design, traveling inspires me,” Al-Marzouqi said of her creative process.

However, inspiration and a knack for design will only take you so far in a notoriously competitive industry.

“If you have natural flair at designing or creating a look, there’s the other technical stuff that you’re not aware of like running a team of staff, the facts and figures — that was the challenging part,” the designer said, referring to the obstacles she has faced on her journey so far.

But she learnt the ropes and now oversees all aspects of research, design and production and is particularly keen to ensure the women she dresses have the “full Cabochon experience,” including “the attention, the care (and) the fit.

“I create and I design, but obviously every woman has a certain style so you respect the personality that comes in — her style, the shape of her body, her attitude, what she likes and, accordingly, you get inspired as a designer.”