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Hassan Sheheryar needs no introduction, whether you know him as ‘King of Couture’, ace choreographer, showman, host of the very popular Tonite with HSY or for any one of the many well maintained caps that he wears. To friends he’s Sheru, to stars he’s Hassan and to fans all over the world he’s the indomitable HSY. And now he’s about to add yet another feather to his cap as he steps into the role of Show Director at the 16 Lux Style Awards, scheduled to take place in Karachi on April 19. With less than a month to go, the task is no less than mammoth and I caught him for an early chat, knowing his days would now blend into an endless work schedule.

Aamna Isani: It’s been over 20 years of directing fashion events but this is the first time you’ll be directing an awards show of this magnitude. How does it feel?

Hassan Sheheryar Yasin: It’s incredible. For me Lux has been the award of excellence and it has been about everything to do with fashion and style. It’s my first memory of the time Shaan stole the stage when he performed with Saima. I remember crying my heart out in Malaysia when I won my first award. I was so young and the award was so much larger than us. Now to be able to put together the show is such a big responsibility and it feels that all I’ve done in life has come together. Everything from fashion to film, TV to the theatre I’ve done in my younger years…all parcels have come together and this is the time to be strong. We were invited to pitch and we had seven days to prepare our pitch. So we pitched what we felt was perfect. We put in a journey of what we had seen, learnt and where we wanted it to go.

AI: What changes have you proposed in the format?

HSY: You have to understand that everyone has a certain strength; I’m a showman and I think the show requires sleekness, surprise element. This is not one show it’s the CFDAs, the Grammys, Oscars, Emmys…four shows in one. I wanted to find the one thing that connected them and that one thing is style. My pitch was to bring back style. That connectivity needs to shine through the performances. I want to celebrate style in every way possible. This show needs to be the benchmark. What else does Lux do that no one else does? They applaud new, emerging people. At one point the movie industry had nothing to offer and these people held on to them. Right now the music industry has been pushed back and you’ll see them back in the limelight; not just the icons but the new voices. The stage…she’s larger and flashier and like the woman of today.

AI: We’ve noticed how red carpet style has suffered over the years. Are you going to look into that?

HSY: Somewhere along the way we stopped assisting celebrities and so many people got lost. The smaller stars didn’t know what to do or where to go. We’re going to try and offer solutions for performers, celebrities. We will try and create looks and create synergies. We have designers and stylists on board. Nabila is an integral peg in all of this. We must start focusing on the stars because they’re the ones that make the event special. The stars are what make the Oscars special year after year; we have to make sure that everyone feels included.

AI: Timing has always been the biggest challenge; how do you intend to control that?

HSY: Timing is of the essence. I’m calculating every single minute of the program. Timing can only happen if it’s controlled in minute ways. There are 30 awards that must be given. There has to be time allotted. So it’s two-tiered. The show time will be managed intricately. Getting the stars and celebrities in on time has to be managed just as carefully. That connectivity needs to happen and we’re working on it from the get go. The first two performances will get things going…I have a lot of good will with the stars. I’m not new to them and I have attended and accepted awards with these guys so I’m hoping to bank on all that.

AI: What other hurdles do you predict to encounter, especially since you have less than a month to design a show from scratch?

HSY: Wherever I see a hurdle I take it out. I’m taking people out. Give people love and respect but demand the same in return. It’s no nonsense.

AI: Frieha Altaf has been directing the Lux Style Awards for 15 years. How does it feel to step into her shoes?

HSY: Hers are the largest shoes to fill. I would have never pitched had the LSAs not asked me to pitch. Frieha is an institution. To fill her shoes would be an impossible task and I can’t say I can do it. I just hope to do justice to all her work and I hope I can bring a newness to the show. When it comes to Frieha I hope she comes and watches so that I can thank her for creating this incredible platform. There is immense respect and love between us and I hope to keep it that way.

AI: To wrap things up, which year was your favourite Lux Style Awards?

HSY: That would be Genting Highlands, Malaysia. I had my friends by my side; it was a tight show. It celebrated what was relevant. It was also the year that I won.


This article was originally published in Instep, March 22, 2017.