The names of Ather Zahoor and Shahzad Raza need no introduction and are not short of accolades of praise which their photography and makeup has been showered with. In the course of the last two decades, Ather Shahzad Studio has carved for itself a niche which is unbeatable in the fashion industry, in the true sense of the word. Not only being the pioneers of the field of fashion photography, they are responsible for the introduction of stunning and unique approaches towards both fashion and bridal makeup as well as photography.
Today, Shahzad Raza runs one of the most successful makeup studios of the country. It’s this artist, whose magical touches, every bride-to-be, dreams about, for her special day. In the anniversary issue of Brides & You, we catch up with Shahzad about the latest in his bridal services and packages at Ather & Shahzad’s.
Leading a team of about thirty five people, out of which 80% are women, Shahzad Raza heads a salon, which has met overwhelming success since its years of conception in 2001. Not only does the salon offer bridal and fashion but also outdoor projects including films and shows for which Shahzad has a special setup. The exciting news for those of the more traditional and conservative mind set in our society is that at Ather Shahzad you can find a lady photographer as well, for your bridal shoot. ‘The senior makeup artists, who have been working with me for the last 12 years are doing an amazing job. They have their own specific and very loyal clientele now,’ tells Shahzad.
But that’s not all, they have three categories which include a middle-level staff and then the junior-level artists. The reason for offering such a vast variety of artists/ packages is that at this salon, people belonging to even the middle class can dream of being an Ather Shahzad bride. ‘People from all strata of society are welcome to come to us and we are sitting here to help them out to the best of our ability,’ says Shahzad as he goes on to explain how most young brides are far too scared of entering Ather Shahzad Studio, because of the common conception that it is too expensive. ‘Some of our ranges begin from very low and reasonable prices. There is no need for anyone to get intimidated. When people finally get here, they realise how comfortable they can be around this place, contrary to whatever they might have heard or feared.’ It is indeed wonderful news for all you brides out there that when you are considering a beauty salon for your big day, Ather Shahzad is equally compatible to others as far as price goes. As for quality, that is of course top notch!
There is no dearth of clients who want only Shahzad to do the makeup, even though of course, that package is the top bracket and the most expensive one. Faisalabad, Sialkot and Gugranwala are only some of the places that he has clients in, locally. But internationally, he has a number of people who fly him over to Dubai, London and the US for their weddings. His work is appreciated and well known in the educated circles, the world over. All the famous families of Pakistan and India are his regulars.
When I asked Shahzad about how he manages to give the girl a makeup which looks good in real life as well as in photographs, he explains it in detail: ‘The makeup done for photo shoots is darker, and as far as fashion goes, that is easily manageable, because no one needs to look at the model in real life. She has to look superb only on the film. But a bride is a different story altogether. She must look stunning sitting on the stage, and the pictures of her photo shoot will remain with her for a lifetime. In order to balance this, we give her a base which is more suitable for making her look fresh, giving her complexion a natural glow and suppleness. For making sure she looks perfect for the photography, we do the contouring in such a way that makes her face stand out brilliantly in photos.’ Truly, this genius has it all covered very smoothly and that’s one reason why he is incomparable to any of his competitors!
If you are wondering why Shahzad is at the absolute top of his game at the moment the answer to this is fairly simple. It’s pure hard work and dedication. Shahzad is probably the one artist who has experimented most, in his field of expertise. ‘We change the look of the bride each year. You will see something different, even in the smallest way, in our ads. Brides must look like brides and yet there must be something new, that catches the eye. Even though our ideas get stolen through the placement of our ads, we still have nothing to fear, as there is a lot more where these ideas came from,’ he sums up.
Talking about the current trends, Shahzad tells that we are back to heavy makeup, reds and maroons are here; the traditional look is the flavour for the winter bridal season this year 2011-2012. 12 years ago, when they started working, they introduced pinks, blues and magentas, then everyone started following the trend. Red was dying. For the last three years rich colours are back for the first day. ‘Most of my clients prefer to come to me for both days of their wedding. It’s a better package, but most importantly, the artist can do a wonderful job as he or she gets a better idea of how to work on a particular face.’
The salon offers all services and it has captured the hearts of the clients through excellent hair care services and the use of impeccable quality products. His clients are his loyal fans because of the superior standards maintained in all kinds of salon services for women of all ages. ‘I travel a lot, and I always bring back the best quality makeup as well as hair care and skin care products. Firstly, I believe that my clients deserve the best, secondly, there is a marked difference in the result that is to be achieved by using big brands such as Mac, Bobby Brown, Dior or Chanel. But quality has become my priority because it is my passion.’
Shahzad has managed to obtain the number one position in everything that he has ventured into, be it fashion photography, bridal photography, fashion or bridal makeup, fashion shows or film and drama, because he is truly passionate about his work, to the extent of being up at nights working his way through shoots, making sure that there is not too much of photo-shopping done on the pictures. As for the preparation of any look, he plans meticulously and decides on a complete theme for a shoot, long before its execution takes place. His work speaks for itself!
Shahzad’s clients have tremendous faith in him now. They come for consultation, much before even deciding on the colour of their wedding outfit. ‘They will sit with me and ask me what particular colours should they opt for and for which days. They ask me to guide them about the style and colours of jewellery which will go best with their features,’ says Shahzad. And then when he starts working on each face, he treats each canvas with extreme delicate care. ‘If it’s an unknown face, upon which I am setting eyes for the first time, I have to think and plan, just as I think well in advance for my models for fashion shoots. Every girl deserves to look more beautiful than the best super model, on her wedding day. For that special care, I design makeup for each and every face. It’s a challenge and not just a business for me, and it’s the one thing I love doing! I am in competition only with myself and I know my worth,’ he points out.
The road towards success is not a bed of roses for anyone, especially a man who was entering a world dominated by makeup giants who were, at that time, all females. His vision, his hard work and dedication has paved the way to the brilliance, which is synonymous with his name today. To conclude, it would be safe to say that the skill of this artist is unmatched and we as a country ought to feel honoured to have amongst us, such a talented gem, who makes us proud all over the world.