Conversation with Nazila Sawhney

Tell us a little bit about yourself — how long have you been working as a designer, and what sparked your interest in fashion?

I am an Afghan/Canadian designer. My love for fashion was obvious from an early age, I still remember my favorite sandals which had a red apple embossed on the front with wooden platforms. I used to wear them all the time even when they hurt. But, I seriously considered a career in fashion about 12 years ago, I took a chance and never looked back. I love the idea of how fashion can create opportunities for the artisans, for so many people in remote areas of India and locally here in Edmonton. I aspire everyday to create fashion that benefits non-profit organizations through fashion shows and charity events.

Is there someone in the fashion industry who inspires you?

There are so many elite designers who inspire me daily but mostly it's the people who wear my clothes and the excitement they portray through those pieces that inspire me the most.

Do you design your own clothes, or you have go to label?

I design and create my own collections under the label Nazila Couture.

What made you take fashion more seriously and make a career out of it?

I think you have to take what you do seriously from the get go. My job is an industry that is very competitive and ever changing and evolving and one must treat it like a full time job.

How has your work evolved since you began your own label?

I have evolved like a! You are trying, you are alive but it's not just what you want. But, the passion to learn and the hard work has paid off. I am blessed.

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?

Presently, I am working on a collection basedon my country of birth (Afghanistan), it's most challenging for me. It's quite dynamic, too much history, and at the same time lack of monumental inspirations. I am working through images and a lot of research.

Do you have a process you follow when starting a new design?

Yes, absolutely. It's important to have a process, a routine. Most collections are based on inspirations along with the currents trends and demands. Inspirations determine designs, cuts, embroidery and the purpose of the collection.

Where do you go for inspiration?

I research through visiting sites specific to my needs, right now I am reading on history of Afghanistan, from early 60's and how fashion was perceived to today's outlook on cultural costumes.

If you were a superhero, what kind of powers would you have?

Power to protect and provide for kids who are forgotten about, ones that don't experience life as they should. Ones that don't get to smile, or have access to basic food, water, shelter. I would take care of them all.

If you were to date super hero, who would you date and why?

I can't just name one specific super hero, but anyone that goes out of her/his way to do something for humanity is a super hero. I am not good at dating, but love to have a chance to meet Angelina Jolie, I think she is one of the most balanced human beings, I have tremendous respect for her.

In your opinion; which super villains needs fashion advice?

Haha, super villains? I wouldn't want to give any super villain any fashion advice, I would rather not get!