Shahista Lalani is a Canadian-born fashion designer based in New York City. Growing up in a family involved in the dry cleaning industry for over 30 years has allowed her to master fabrics and textiles, as well as basic sewing techniques. As a child, she explored everything from music, sports, tattooing and most importantly painting and graffiti.
After four years of technical training at Parsons the New School for Design, she mastered sewing, pattern making, fabric treatments and construction techniques. Interning with Zac Posen and The Row added to her knowledge about the local garment district and ethical manufacturing processes. She specializes in outerwear and works mostly with skins such as furs and leathers. This year, Shahista was selected to participate in the Louis Vuitton Reconstruction 3.0 project, which expanded her horizons in transforming garments and learning how to work with a team. Shahista highly values attention to detail and strives to create clothing which is durable, long-lasting, transformable and most importantly: wearable. Shahista’s debut collection is featured below.
Getting to know Shahista’s collection, “Encasement”:
What is the main inspiration for this collection?
I was really drawn to the concept of encasement, derived from the process of gold mining. Gold is a soft, malleable precious resource encased in layers of hard rock. Using different weights of skins and treatments that I developed, I was able to create textures as well as transformability within the garments.
What is your favorite look in the collection?
Wow it’s so hard to pick… I don’t think I can! Everything has its own unique detail; I have such a close connection to all of my pieces so it’s too hard for me to choose!
What makes your collection unique?
Aside from the fact that I have 2 pairs of leather sweatpants, the fabric treatments are really what makes my collection unique. I discovered a gold marbling technique that I applied to some of the leather, making much of it waterproof, I used pin tucking on a curved shape, and I also developed a lacquer with glass beads that I used on some of the panels. It was very important to me that the treatments allow for reversible transferable and durable garments. I also used perforated skins, mesh, and silk jersey to bring lightness and breathability to the collection.
Looking back, how would you expand your collection?
I’d really like to expand it into more of a unisex collection and further develop different fabric treatments.
All photos by Lauren Sohn & PocketDenim, hair by Lauren Thompson
Q&A with Shahista:
Who are your favorite designers and/or brands?
Gareth Pugh, Balmain, Alexander McQueen, The Row, Valentino
What are some things that you don’t leave the house without?
Prada perfume & lotion, MAC Boy Bait lip gloss, my iPhone, Beats by Dre pro headphones, at least 1 piece of my mother’s gold jewelry, and 18k gold paint maker, and my Smith & Wesson gold executive pocket knife.
What is your favorite outfit to wear?
What are your closet staples?
A fur coat, a leather biker vest, black tees, leather sweatpants, and a pair of sneakers. And lots of gold jewels!
My Lion’s Claw Pendant necklace from Kenya that my dad gave me.