Queen Maxima chose local designer for royal wedding

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Global collaborations are no longer a surprise for Pakistani artists – especially in the realm of fashion – since designers have dressed the likes of Bollywood and Hollywood celebrities for a long time now. The global industry knows and sings the praise of the intricate details and tailored cuts that Pakistani designers offer. However, for the first time, a local designer left a mark so deep on royalty, that they eventually contacted her for a custom-made exclusive wedding outfit!

Designer Mahpara Khan designed a gorgeous champagne-coloured dress for Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. The Queen, dressed regally in Mahpara’s stellar creation, attended the wedding reception of Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussain and Princess Rajwa of Saudi Arabia at the Zahran Palace – where the UK’s Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate, were also present.

But how did the Queen of the Netherlands find a Pakistani designer, who started her work merely three years before the royalty met her? Interestingly, the Dutch queen met the designer during her three-day Pakistan trip in 2019. “We met during her visit to Pakistan as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate. After that, we began coordinating with the royal stylists,” Mahpara said in a statement.

“The Queen had the opportunity to see a few samples at our studio, which allowed her to understand the level of detail and intricacy that would go into each design. This led to several months of coordination and design.” Mahpara takes immense pride in the fact that her creation for the Dutch Queen was the sole representation of Pakistan at the regal ceremony where all the dignitaries and royalty were adorned in prestigious fashion brands such as Prada, Elie Saab, Jenny Packham, and Armani.

The Queen paired the embroidered floor-length gown with a crown, delicate earrings and a necklace. The raw silk gown, which perfectly cinched her on the waist, had shades of gold, red, deep blue and green – colours of the Netherland flag.

Taking to her atelier’s official Instagram page, she announced the news of their collaboration one day after the royal wedding. “I had the privilege of designing a custom-crafted formal for Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. The design features Mughal patterns fused with traditional dapka, naqshi, resham and gota work. Queen Maxima wore this dress at the wedding reception of Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussain and Princess Rajwa of Saudi Arabia,” she wrote. “Here is hoping that more of our artists are featured globally this year – Pakistan Zindabad! (Long Live Pakistan!)” she concluded.

According to Mahpara, Queen Maxima wanted an exclusive bespoke creation that beautifully combined traditional craft techniques with Western designs. She wanted the dress to serve as a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity and so, Mahpara decided to showcase Mughal patterns on a contemporary monarch as an ode to the rich history of royals in the Subcontinent. However, while the dress stood out and was loved by everyone at the ceremony and otherwise, it came with its own set of challenges.

Speaking about the creative process, Mahpara explained, “The challenge was to design a silhouette that would resonate globally while keeping the motifs and patterns traditional, paying homage to Pakistan. Our goal was to make the dress light enough for comfortable wear while maintaining its ornate and intricate appeal.”

She exclaimed that the dress took more than three months to complete. “The design was completely handcrafted. It took around 100 days to complete the embroidery and decoration, while the toile (a rough silhouette) took around a week,” she said, adding that the biggest challenge was to get the Queen’s measurements right without meeting her.

“In this particular design, it was challenging to tailor it to the Queen’s precise measurements without being physically present with her. We had to go back and forth with her stylists for over 90 days to get the fit and fall right,” she recalled.

Queen Maxima’s choice to wear Mahpara’s creation at the royal wedding reception reflects the growing appreciation of Pakistani designers and their outstanding skills on the international fashion scene. This milestone not only amplifies the talent and creativity of Pakistan’s fashion industry but also fosters cultural dialogue and diversity of styles.

Who is Mahpara Khan?

Mahpara is a young female entrepreneur, who is formally trained and educated as an artist and illustrator. She has been running her own fashion and design studio for the last 8 years. The 34-year-old started her career at the age of 21, holding senior design positions at two of Pakistan’s largest fashion houses.

Through her studio, Mahpara has collaborated with esteemed Pakistani powerhouses like Gul Ahmed, Sapphire, Ittehad, Rungrez, Adamjee, and others, creating exceptional print and pattern designs. Additionally, she has partnered with the Government of Japan to empower female artisans in rural Sindh by promoting globally exportable Pakistani crafts and textiles, thereby fostering sustainable income opportunities.

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