British designer Osman Yousefzada is known for his distinct minimalism. For years, his strong sculptural designs have impressed fashion critics and celebrities alike.
As the man who counts Balenciaga of the ’50s among his inspirations, starts retailing in India, we speak to him about all things design, and more.
When did you develop an interest in designing?
My mother was a dressmaker. My father was a carpenter. So, I kind of grew up making stuff. But my parents wanted me and my siblings to take up jobs that were more professional. So, I have a brother who is an optician, and a sister in politics. But I am still making clothes. I had a natural affinity towards designing, so I hung around my mother quite a lot.
Hollywood actor Emma Watson in an outfit designed by Osman Yousefzada.
You were born in England, but your parents are from Afghanistan. Does this affect your design philosophy?
I was born in Birmingham, UK, and my parents come from another country. So, that really made me notice the difference in the two cultures. This difference is important to be creative, and it helped me too.
How has Brexit affected the fashion industry in the UK?
We are living in an unsettling time at the moment. The UK, in the long term, should be fine. It is just that there is uncertainty now, and that’s what the market is going to react to. However, people are still buying. The pound is low right now, but visitors come and shop. I am quite positive that things will improve.
A model showcases a creation by the designer.
India has a rich design heritage. Now that you are retailing here, would you like to model your designs more on Indian embroideries and textiles?
I would love to create a line with more Indian influences. I work with some artisans in India for my embroideries. So, India is an integral part of my core design philosophy.
You started your label eight years ago. How has your design approach evolved?
Initially, I was anti everything that my mother had done, and what I grew up around. She primarily made clothes for the Asian community, wedding dresses, etc. For the western market, she did a lot of embroidery. I focused a lot on tailoring in the beginning. My clothes had clean silhouettes. That time, my mum used to say, “Aren’t your clothes very simple? They need some kind of embroidery or colour.” But now, I am using my heritage and background with the kind of tailoring I do. The dress I did for Emma Watson recently was all hand-embroidered in India, but it was also a very well-tailored garment.
A military trench coat designed by Osman.
The Burkini has been making news for different reasons. What is your opinion about the attention it is being given?
People are always trying to control other people. They really need to follow the mantra of live and let live. As long as you are not harming anyone, a person should be able to do what he or she wants or is comfortable with.
Why did you decide to enter the Indian market?
I grew up watching Bollywood films, and I’ve always loved India. It has women I want to cater to, engage with, and have a dialogue with. So, I’ve started retailing in Mumbai at Le Mill.
Hollywood actor Felicity Jones in a white bow blouse and black trousers.
Would you like to dress Indian celebrities?
I’ve dressed a few, including Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Nargis Fakhri, Kangana Ranaut and Sonam Kapoor, among others. There is no denying the fact that celebs help you get visibility. Your creation on a beautiful girl is the key to creating awareness about your brand. Also, it is quite an honour if a big celebrity wears your clothes. There are so many choices that they can make, but when they choose you, it feels great.