Canadian designer Ali Haider has so much passion for design that even the pandemic can’t stop him. Today, he releases his first couture collection through film and photography via his Instagram page.
Every April since 2017, Haider has been presenting his collections at FAT (Fashion Art Toronto), but in 2020 the pandemic changed his plans. In October 2020, he showcased a unique collaboration between the Ontario Science Center via a live runway on Instagram. However, with restrictions getting stricter in Ontario, Haider took a different route in 2021. This year, he opted to release the collection completely digitally via social media in the form of a campaign, shot by Simon Pella, along with a fashion film.
Prior to the release today, we spoke to the designer about his aesthetic, the new Versailles-inspired collection and how the pandemic has affected the fashion world. Haider also provided FAJO with an exclusive look into the collection, which we unveil below.
DARINA GRANIK: How did you think up this collection?
ALI HAIDER: The idea for this collection came to me back in September of 2018, during my first ever trip to Paris. Most people dream about visiting that city and I got to live it. A week in Paris gave me more ideas than my brain could handle, which poured out in the form of clothing.
What was the creative process behind the collection?
The creative process included research on textures, techniques and fabrics. I wanted to take the old and execute it in a modern way. Diving in the past, through archives, documentaries, and my own personal photographs from my trip. There was a lot of trial and error before I was able to merge all my ideas into one collection.
What is your favourite part of the aesthetic of Versailles and Marie Antoinette?
The reason why I related so much to Versailles and Marie Antoinette was excess. More is more, which is my mantra when it comes to designing. I never hold back, and just like Marie Antoinette: no colour, no fabric, no accessories were “too much”. I love the fantasy of overindulging for the sake of fashion, for the sake of expression.
Where do you see this collection going: Red carpets, film sets, any celebrity wearing it?
Personally, I like seeing my pieces in any setting. Any place, where the wearer can escape their world and step into an extravagant dimension, where all eyes are on you. As long as the wearer is confident in themselves, I don’t care if they wear it to the Met Gala or for grocery shopping.
How, in your opinion, has the pandemic changed the fashion world? Do you think digital releases are the future of fashion shows?
I truly believe that the pandemic has forced the creatives to get more creative. But despite the virtual age, fashion shows will always remain. I believe both worlds may combine after the world is back to normal but, in the process, we have all learned to be more courageous. For the current collection, I collaborated with Simon Pella: this project gave two creatives an opportunity to make something beautiful. It is always good to see the positive even in the worst of times.
How have the lockdowns and quarantines been to you?
The lockdown for me, personally, has been really sad and lonely. My inspiration thrives on human interactions, and my clothes come to life with humans breathing life into them. That’s why it was really important for me to release the collection to inspire others and myself.
Do you have ideas for your next collection?
As a creative, I am always thinking about what’s next before the present even arrives. I already have plans for my next collection, but I can’t give away anything until my research is done!
Check out the full collection and follow the designer on his Instagram at @lmhaider.
About photographer Simon Pella
Simon Pella is a fresh face on the Toronto art scene, specializing in editorial photography. As a recent graduate from Ryerson’s Image Arts program, he has both technical and artistic expertise. Pella’s work has been featured in many digital publications (mobjournal, Vogue Italia) and he was on Canada’s PhotoED Magazine’s “ones to watch” list. With his goal of inclusivity and local creatives in mind, Pella approaches every project with an open perspective.
Photography – Simon Pella – @simonxpella
Film by – Yujeong Jeon
Models – Shelley Milano – @Shelleymilano – Anita Norris Management; Sophia Lapointe – @Sophia.monet.L – Anita Noris Management; Thomas Todd – @Thomas_todd9 – WANT management
Makeup – Shu Shawna Rickettes @shuonthebeat
Hair – Christine Chung – @Christine.l.y.chung
Assistants – Ashya Mulla, Bami Kuyoro, Simon Capozzolo