A career in fashion wasn't always on the drawing board for designer Sameera Faridi. Originally a pre-med student with a strong biology background, she decided to make a switch when she moved to Houston from Dubai. Houston Community College's fashion design program gave her the creative outlet and technical skills to jump right into the retail world with the opening of her own store, Poshak Fashion & Style, in 2004.
For the first few years, Sameera's passion for design took a backseat to the retail side of Poshak. Now that she's established her store as the go-to for quality South Asian wear in Houston, she's been able to focus on her craft in the form of Sameera Faridi Design Studio. Her bridal wear consultations are a unique niche in the South Asian market where most clients do not get personal attention from the designer of their custom-made clothing.
"Here they come in and sit down directly with me rather than with someone else," she explains. "It's a very intimate setting between the brides and myself."
In recent years, Sameera's clientele has expanded to non-South Asians looking for a bit of Bollywood glamor. What's the chief appeal of traditional-inspired garments? "It's the intricacy of the work," she says. "When you look up close, there are 16 different things used to make that one amazing patch of work. It's all handwork. People appreciate everything that is done by hand."
Like the best fashionistas, Sameera's own personal style is eclectic and wide-ranging. "I wear pretty much anything that looks good, and I love shoes." Dior and Fendi are favorites, and she cites a Cartier handbag as one of her personal treasures. But looking good is all about knowing what's in and what's not. "My second home is the Galleria," she jokes. After all, a first-rate designer needs first-rate inspiration.
What she does: "Besides running the storefront [of Poshak], I handle all the bridal consulting. I give my clients suggestions on the styles, the cuts, the silhouettes. I do the formal and bridal wear designs, so I'm sketching most of the time. I'm also a buyer for the store's ready-wear collection." Currently, Sameera serves as the president of the Houston Community College Fashion Advisory Board and the membership director of Fashion Group International. She's also a new mother. "My daughter keeps me busy," she says with a laugh.
Why she likes it: Designing custom bridal wear is all about connecting with the client, and that intimate working relationship is what drew Sameera to this particular market. "When you create a bridal outfit, there's so much personality in one piece. When the bride comes in, it's a very personal thing. I narrowed my focus because it's a very emotional piece for the bride and the mother and the family." She also likes the challenge of designing for Western-influenced young women and their traditional-minded mothers. "With fashion, you have to keep up. You have to know the colors and styles coming in. To please both parties, while creating something stylish and trendy, is very challenging, but that's why I love what I do."
What inspires her: Even though she cites an endless list of influences, she names three designers in the industry who have shaped the way she approaches her work. Since her first project in design school, Yves Saint-Laurent has been an influence, and "Because I'm into beading and embroidery, it wouldn't be fair not to mention Alexander McQueen in regards to how elaborate his work is." The last is Naeem Khan, whose east-meets-west fusions suggest possibilities for the direction of her own work into western wear.
For Sameera, the personal inspirations in her life are just as significant as the professional. "My dad is the one person who actually turned me into a working machine," she laughs. "I saw from day one how hard he worked. He made me believe that I can get and do anything that I want to. With his support, and with my husband's support, I am where I am today. I'd be incomplete without both of them."
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If not this, then what: Prior to moving to Houston, Sameera applied to an interior design school in Dubai. "I love decorating houses, even though the only project I have right now is my mom's house, and then my own."
If not here, then where: Even if she had the opportunity to work abroad, Sameera says that she would always be based in Houston. "There is so much potential in the city that I wouldn't want to be anywhere else." In the world of fashion, New York City is the ultimate mecca for many up-and-coming designers, but Sameera is aware of the drawbacks of moving to the Big Apple. "In New York, everyone is a designer. I tell students that they should go and look at it, but come back to Houston. This is the market." If she had to make a choice, it would be Los Angeles. "I love the weather there."
What's next: She's headed in the direction of gowns and western wear, an initiative she's been working on for the past two years. "Those designs won't be housed here," she says in reference to her Hillcroft store. "They'll be housed in Neiman's or Saks. I'm definitely headed to Western wear. The fabrics we get from Pakistan are so enriched, and I want to incorporate them into Western styles. I think they'll be a hit." Or at the very least, they'll be stunning works of art.
More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page). Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre Outspoken Bean, performance poet Barry Moore, architect Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist Ty Doran, young actor Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet Justin Garcia, artist Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer