Downtown

Designer student

Colourful life: When she was 18, Shireen started taking orders as a freelancer. (Below) The kids are her clients for whom she did the dresses based on Disney’s characters Anna and Elsa in animation film Frozen. Photo: Vaishali R. Venkat   | Photo Credit: Vaishali R Venkat

At school, Shireen Shahana’s teachers and friends would often catch her daydreaming, which led to her being called “The Dream Girl”. Her day dreams were vivid with colours and designs. She wanted to be a fashion designer.

“I always had a strong urge to create something that I could call my own,” says Shireen, who is 22 years old now and an owner of an eponymous boutique in Alwarpet. What is remarkable about Shireen Shahana is that she managed to balance studies and professional dress designing. She is a undergraduate student of Loyola College, studying visual communication. She was a student of English literature at Kozhikode, which she gave up midway. Because she realised down the line that her heart lay in colours and not in words. “I did not the find the subject interesting. So I opted out in the second semester and applied for visual communication at Loyola and got selected. My college time is from 1.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. So, I am at my unit from 10 a.m. to 12.45 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. During examinations, I bring my books to the tailoring unit and study,” she says.

She might have taken sometime to think seriously about getting a degree related to her passion, but her skills as a seller of designer clothes took wing very early.

“When I was 15, I designed a dress that I would wear for Bakrid . I bought a georgette fabric, brocade and threads for mirror work and made a salwar suit. When I looked at what I had created, I began to think about becoming a professional designer,” says Shireen.

When she was 18, she started taking orders as a freelancer. Her uncle, a tailor of men’s wear and a textile dealer from Thallasery, has helped her become an entrepreneur.

“As part of his business, he travels to north India. He has helped me identify the tailors who work for me now,” she says. Shireen focuses on bridal wears. “I design Lehengas, Anarkhalis, Pakistani suits and blouses with hand-embroidered works like zardoshi, kutchi and mirror work.”

She has a strong sense of colour.

“Usually, people take a tiny piece of a material to the shop in order to match it with another fabric. But, I do not need one. The colour stays in my memory. I can easily pick the exact thread and fabric material,” she says. “I also do dresses for theme birthdays. Recently, I did a dress for Anna, a character featured in Disney’s animated film Frozen.”

Shireen is happy with the course her life is taking. Only occasionally does she fell the pressure, as when a pile of work keeps her from visiting her folks back in Kerala.

“It is summer vacation now and feel like going home, but I cannot. As the wedding season is on, I have received a truckload of orders for Lehengas. I have had to postpone the trip. ” Shireen was earlier in a hostel. With her business picking up and orders pouring in, she has had to move to rented house. “I have fabrics and threads to keep with me,” she explains.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 4:03:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/designer-student/article5873490.ece

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