Profile of the Month | Shehla Rana
With a passion for design and fashion at a very young age, Shehla Rana grew up loving Christian Dior and was influenced by Georgio Armani. In 2012, Rana decided to go one step further with her passion for fashion design by moving back to Houston and enrolling at the The Art Institute of Houston, to obtain a formal degree in Fashion Design. With big plans of launching her own line of fashion, Shehla Rana plans to go to Milan for her Master’s degree in fashion design and possibly even host a show. Lights Camera Action’s Lifestyle and Society Columnist Ruchi Mukherjee sat down with this upcoming Houston based International designer at The Houstonian Club to learn more about her.
Tell us about your international fashion influence, your passion for designing and what got you started?
In late 2009, I moved to Dubai, UAE with my husband due to his work assignment and to satisfy my passion and eagerness to learn about different cultures and fashion trends. I spent a lot of time studying the Arabic culture, traditions, colors, designs and styles. This inspired me to launch my first clothing line in 2010 named ‘Zahwah’ in which I showcased the latest Arab trends in fashion. Along with the clothing line, I also launched my jewelry collection named ‘Ameer’, again inspired by Arabic culture.
My passion for design and fashion began at a very early age when I started designing my own outfits and jewelry. I always felt that I could do better than the average designs and outfits available in the market. In 2005 this passion took me to Premier Designs, a well-known US jewelry line, when I decided to be part of their distributor network after learning about their unique designs. This opportunity not only helped me in keeping up with the latest fashion trends in the market but also gave me a chance to fully understand the fashion needs of today’s women.
I also showcased my jewelry designs in a fashion shown in Dallas, TX along with other top fashion designers from India and Pakistan. In 2008 I organized a fashion show in Houston, TX and launched my new jewelry collection along with another top Pakistani fashion designer and award winner, Deepak Perwani who showcased his hot couture collection. I was privileged to have Miss Texas USA Brook Daniel model my jewelry collection in 2009. The collection was a sell out giving me further confidence to continue on with my passion for fashion designing.
You are a mother, a loving wife, a student and yet you find time for all the wonderful charity work you have done in Dubai and Houston. Tell us about that.
I have organized and participated in several charity events in Houston and Dubai. My mother passed away a few years ago due to cancer and I learned how good and timely treatment can make a difference in the life of a cancer patient. As we all know, cancer treatment can be expensive and is not always readily available. Therefore, my efforts have been to help promote cancer treatment awareness and raise funds for the needy people. I have donated my designs to Texas Children’s Hospital for their charity auctions to raise funds for cancer research. I regularly organize charity fashion shows and fund raisers for Shaukat Khanum Cancer Research Hospital which provides free cancer treatment to cancer patients in Pakistan. Several of my designs have been presented at fund raising events in Dubai and Houston to raise funds for the hospital.
What are your favorite brands, and what is that one thing you absolutely love in your closet?
My favorite brands are Georgio Armani, Christian Dior and Versace. I admire Georgio Armani’s style as I believe his designs are unique and elegant. His use of lines, stripes, solid colors and no floral prints catches my attention. I have several Armani outfits in my closet but I specifically love the long gown with stripes as that gives a very slim look.
Tell us about Dubai’s fashion scene and your favorite designers in Dubai.
Dubai is a world of fashion and a very happening place for a fashionista. There are so many great designers from around the world that it is difficult to pick one. However, I personally like the creativity of my designer friend, Ambreen Amin. Her designs are unique and beautiful with a fusion of eastern and western culture.
You are planning to launch your own line. Can you share your ideas with us and what should we expect in Shehla Rana Designs?
As previously mentioned, Georgio Armani is my inspiration. Taking from his inspiration I mostly work with solid patterns and designs. I like using black and white stripes, fine prints and dark colors. My aim is to create designs that are comfortable for today’s women and at the same time look elegant, modern and stylish. I want to particularly focus on designs that make women look slim and give them confidence, style and glamor.
Spotted at all the happening parties both in Houston and Dubai, Shehla Rana also supports many charities. She is the new face in Houston’s social scene with big plans and a generous heart.