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How actor Rekha inspired this fashion designer

February 15, 2020 14:06 IST

'(Actor) Rekha has seen me since I was born.
'It would really be lovely to have the opportunity to dress her now and show her how far I have come because her relationship with our family through Umrao Jaan.'

Sama Ali Khan

IMAGE: Sama Ali wants to create garments that will make people happy. Photograph: Courtesy Sama Ali/Instagram

It is a proud moment to see a daughter step out of their parents' shadow.

Muzaffar Ali (director of Umrao Jaan and Gaman) and Meera Ali exuded all the pride and happiness that comes with that feeling when their daughter designer Sama Ali presented her label House of Kotwara's latest collection at the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai.

In a candid interview with's Prasanna Zore, Sama Ali reveals how she grew up watching Rekha and was inspired by her parents to reinvent the label for modern audiences.

Why did you choose to be a designer?

Beauty motivates me.

I am trying to create beauty in the world; I am trying to create garments that will make people feel beautiful and happy.

I want to share this beauty with the world through my designs. That is why I chose fashion as my career. That is the way I express my creativity.

What inspires your designs?

Every collection has a different inspiration.

For the collection that I presented at LFW, my inspiration was the chikankari.

We have always been doing this (making designs out of chikankari work) but I wanted to do something young and fresh and I would find relateable as a wearer.

The whole collection is quite floral and there were inspirations like tulips and dahlias on pastel tones.

House of Kotwara at LFW Summer/Resort 2020

IMAGE: Designer Sama Ali, second from right, poses with Meera Ali, showstopper Dia Mirza and Padma Shri Muzaffar Ali at the Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2020. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/

One Indian celebrity you would like to dress up...

I have dressed quite a few people.

Dressing up Dia was a lovely opportunity for me. I have dressed her for smaller events but I haven't had the opportunity to dress her as a showstopper at Lakme before. That has been a really great experience.

I would also love to dress up Rekha because she has seen me since I was born.

I have grown up in her lap till the point where I would really crush her if I sat in her lap.

It would really be lovely to have the opportunity to dress her now and show her how far I have come because her relationship with our family through Umrao Jaan. She has been a huge inspiration in my life as a designer.

The most fashionable Indian celeb...

The fashionable celeb whose style I personally admire is Sonam (Kapoor). She is very creative and she takes risks like no one else and she comfortable pulls them off. Not everyone can do that.

She has such a range of expressing herself through fashion and she and Dia (Mirza) always do a great job of the outfit they put together. I enjoy looking at them.

Would you like to dress her up?

I would love to dress her up and I have done that in the past for smaller events but it has not worked out that we work together on a bigger project. I am sure that will happen soon.

One Indian outfit that would never go out of fashion?

Saris are a classic. These days people feel really nervous about saris which they think is hard to drape but it is really not. Once you get a hang of it and you know where to tuck that pin then you are set.

There is nothing sexier than a sari.

If you were to design a sari for Sonam Kapoor how would you go about it?

It is hard for me to explain that in words. I am better at showing my designs rather than speaking about them.

What generally inspires me is fantasy, fiction as I have grown up readings books like Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter.

(My designs for a sari) would come from such influence because that's where I want to be. I like to create clothes that can take you into a fantasy world.

I would like to create something minimal for her (Sonam) but something (inspired from) fantasy.

How do you deal with constructive criticism?

I love constructive criticism because I prefer it to empty compliments.

'What am I going to do? Oh, very nice, very nice'. Everyone says that.

People who criticise you are helping you the most in life. If you get upset and turn your ears away from that you will suffer. It won't make any difference to them.

Hear it (the criticism), see if it makes sense to you, imbibe it, ignore it but hear it.

Sama Ali with her parents Muzaffar and Meera Ali

IMAGE: Sama Ali with her parents Muzaffar and Meera AliPhotograph: Courtesy Sama Ali/Instagram

Do Muzaffar Ali and Meera Ali critique your designs?

They are not that critical. They appreciate what I do. They have trained me well.

I represent most of their values in terms of design. Sometimes we do clash; we have very different ways of doing things.

It's hard but who doesn't fight with their parents.