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IFAP CEO Mehreen Syed with most of the visiting faculty

I wasn’t in Lahore for the launch of IFAP but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion about Pakistan’s first Fashion Academy. Of course I do. I’ve visited the website and do feel that the CEO Mehreen Syed and Head of Faculty Shahzad Raza have made a fair attempt at professionalism, though starting their launch two hours late (according to my journo-colleagues) does not go down well with the required discipline of an academic institution.

However, I do think that portraitures made on the website are a bit exaggerated. Mehreen Syed is a good model but calling herself Pakistan’s “undisputed supermodel” is pushing it a bit too far.

“IFAP’s students could not have hoped for a better role model than this woman of substance and beauty,” it says on the website. Well, Mehreen will have to do much more than look pretty if she wants to prove she has “razor-sharp intelligence” as the site also claims. And being 16th on a list of 50 of the world’s hottest Asians – in a survey conducted by Eastern Eye magazine – doesn’t really help her entrepreneurial or academic profile.

Mehreen Syed is CEO of IFAP.

Shahzad Raza is Head of Faculty.

Confusingly, there are profile details of Ather Shahzad, not Shahzad Raza. There’s a double image of himself on his profile page, I’m guessing one for his photographic skills and one for his good looks. But what I’ve learnt from the profile is:

1. “As pioneers of the fashion industry in Lahore, the photographer duo is revered for their enormous contributions.” Fair enough.

2. “They have also elevated fashion photography to a prestigious profession.” Sorry Arif and Tapu, you guys just didn’t cut the mustard!

3. “Ather Shahzad are also stylists and image consultants par excellence, having groomed the country’s top models and its best-known celebrities. Whether it is the striking Aaminah Haq or the elegant Vinnie, the debonair Shaan or the graceful Reema, Ather Shahzad have performed their magic on most.” Iman Ali and Resham should be on this list. As for Aaminah Haq, Shaan and Reema, Nabila and Tariq Amin know best.

Over to academia, IFAP claims to offer a substantial number of workshops (from modeling, styling and grooming to even acting) and diplomas which can, if pursued professionally, serve as very, very helpful for the fashion industry. We need models to undergo extensive grooming, which IFAP offers to take up to personal details, including hygiene and communication skills.

“With this end in mind, IFAP has merged with Goldstein Models, an international modeling agency, to establish a global platform for models of Pakistan,” the website claims, which means that qualifying models will probably be offered assignments by GM in Canada. Visit the GM website to see a home page that is almost identical to that of IFAP.

Furthermore, IFAP has appointed HSY as Head of Visiting Faculty and a number of industry members as visiting faculty. Those mentioned include: Umar Sayeed, Deepak Perwani, Nickie and Nina, Kamiar Rokni, Mehdi, Nomi Ansari (who’ll be conducting a very interesting class on how to recycle old clothes and mix/match separates for spunky new looks), Iman Ali, Saba Ansari, Iffat Omar, Hamza Tarrar, Emad Irfani and Nael Ahmed as well as basically anyone who is on good terms with Ather Shahzad.

It would be a coup for IFAP to bring in more professionals like Sonya Battla, Maheen Karim, Mahin Hussain, Frieha Altaf and Saadia Mirza who have solid academic degrees from St Martins and London School of Fashion etc. Or even others like Rizwan Beyg, Maheen Khan, Shamaeel, Amir Adnan, Sana Safinaz, Iman Ahmed etc who may not have fashion degrees but have years of acclaim and credibility to their name.

What IFAP has is a beginning. It should not be the end. That said, the first foot forward is indeed a motion of progress.

Photography by Faisal Farooqui@Dragonfly


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