This year has been super busy for the go-getter Hassan Sheharyar Yasin aka Sheru aka HSY – and a rewarding one too. Besides the myriad of fashion presentations, another feather in his cap was to be the show director of the renowned (read notorious) LSAs which had been directed by Frieha Altaf for more than a decade. Having earned its fair share of controversies, the bigwigs at LSAs finally decided to infuse new energy in the insipid show in the form of HSY. Although it was short notice for the man, who was already submerged in creating collections for the various fashion weeks, not once did he falter and delivered – as was expected. Such is the nature of this ever-evolving phenomenon who keeps on surprising us from time to time with his out-of-the-box ideas.
Last year, he had opened the doors of his magnificent HSY Mansion, an instant hit with his family, friends and clients. More an extension of his personality than an outlet, the mansion was Sheru’s creative expression. “It’s a home away from home for me. Since I travel a lot and am constantly jetting between Karachi and Lahore it was only sensible to have a space that works as both my showroom and home so I ensured I had some personal living space at the mansion. The setup is very similar to my home in Lahore in order to maintain the familiarity and intimacy,” he explains.
Having a keen eye for all that’s creative Sheru knew this was to be his mansion the day he saw the dilapidated bungalow.
“Part of the reason why I chose the mansion was its rich history and the traditional feel it exudes. It was built in 1909 by a Parsi woman and her Hindu husband and has a very captivating energy that really attracted me and I wanted to retain it. I had very little work done on the mansion since I liked it the way it was. I didn't want to take away the old world charm it has.”
The mansion had such a great impact on Sheru’s life that it even became the inspiration for a few of his collections. He showcased his bridal collection ‘1909’ in one of the recent fashion weeks. The collection got its name ‘1909’ from the mansion itself as that was the time when it was first built, as earlier mentioned. He has also designed an exclusive collection of bags and clutches under the same banner. Such is the impact of the mansion in Sheru’s life.
Countless work meetings take place at the mansion – be it the award shows, fashion weeks, preparation for his celebrity show or his CSR work, the mansion is the hub of all activities. In fact, it is also a place to chill and unwind for Sheru’s family and close friends. His mother especially loves to spend time here with her talented son.
“When my mother saw the mansion she simply fell in love with it. Of all the rooms she loves my bedroom the most and insists on using it when she’s around,” he laughingly shares.
Sheru has great fondness for his mother, a figure he has always adored and looked up to. She has been the world for him and to date remains an integral part of his life as a designer and a creative man. She is a single mother who brought him up all by herself. It was at an early age that Sheru began working alongside studies. He focused on his education and wanted to pursue a degree in law but in an unfortunate car accident he lost his eyesight. He was only 18 then.
With time and by the grace of God he regained his eyesight but his perspective on life had completely changed. He had seen life as not many have, and wanted to do something worthwhile. It was on a visit to a fashion show that he realised he could be a good choreographer. Sheru approached the doyenne Nilofer Shahid and managed to convince her to let him choreograph her show. And hence Sheru got his first taste of the fashion world. He liked what he saw, he liked how gratifying it could be. And the maverick decided to make a career in fashion.
Those were the days when Bunto Kazmi was a name to be reckoned with. She ruled the fashion roost and was sculpting designs that were to become timeless. To date there cannot be another Bunto Kazmi. “When I started my career, we always used to look up to Bunto Kazmi who is an institution in herself. I have always appreciated her work and been inspired by it too.” Of the international designers Versace, Tom Ford, Elie Saab, D&G, Bottega and Moschino are his top favourites.
Sheru’s signature style is the colour red. He loves to play with the colour of passion. Although he does employ other hues too, red remains his trademark. “I love working with all colours but my personal favourite is ‘red’ and will always be!”
Always ready for an adventure and one to explore new avenues, to direct the LSAs was quite a challenge. This was around the same time when PFDC fashion week was to take place followed by the LSAs and then another fashion week – how did Sheru manage with so much on his hands, we query? “I’ve been a designer for the last 25 years and have been organising and multitasking. That is my job and I like to believe I’m very good at it,” says the organised man.
One to delegate duties, Sheru believes in being an expert for everything. And that is how he worked around the awards show too. “I had to come up with new formats and offbeat ideas”- in fact Sheru had to revamp the whole show – from the stage to red carpet; choice of hosts, show format to the show timings everything was given much thought especially celebrity management, something he felt needed special attention. He had it all worked out and everything simply was in place.
And so this phenomenon has added yet another feather to his cap. The man has been entrenched in the fickle world of fashion for more than two decades now and has garnered international fame and multiple awards including the Lux Style Award for ‘Best Designer’ and the ‘Most Stylish Fashion Icon’ trophy at the MTV Style Awards in 2009. A salutatorian graduate of the Pakistan School of Fashion Design, HSY is affiliated with the School of Chambre Syndicale De La Couture Parisienne in France.
As if the fashion world did not keep him busy, Sheru also launched his celebrity talk show, a hit with the masses. In his inimitable style, he has A-listers spilling the beans on issues that most choose to stay silent about.
His dogged determination and undaunted drive for success makes this workaholic one of a kind. Ever smiling and welcoming, his friendly disposition makes him a favourite with celebrities and the number one choice of designer for red carpet events. We see celebrities, socialites and fashionistas make a beeline for HSY whenever the need for a transformation is felt. •
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