In an intimate encounter with the couturist Julia Islam Molly, Nahid Tabassum attempts to list the essential ingredients for a perfect recipe of a successful fashion designer; and an entrepreneur.
From Kimonos to Kurtis, Molly shines singularity in her art, ideas and ideologies, and humility in her creation. With fusion and fun in her pockets, Molly likes to sprinkle joy of adorning garments with the sole purpose of making one feel good in it.
“I had never imagined becoming a fashion designer. It’s the joy of making people feel good and to revive them with delight is worth creating,” the fun-loving demeanor reveals.
An artist is born
The youngest of the 3 siblings, Molly was encouraged by her elder brother to participate in a designing competition called, “The Challengers”, in the mid 80s sponsored by Pearsons and Beximco Group, and to her surprise, she landed herself with all 3 prizes, as the winning designer in the competition.
An undergrad student then in her first year, Molly, took up this huge challenge and successfully managed to submit her designs within a demanding deadline.
“The risk paid off as I won the competition and my clothes got featured in Eid Magazines. I also got offered a job as a designer instantly. In the following days, I had to prepare 45 outfits within 10 days, and assemble a clothing line for a fashion show,” the designer exclaims.
Molly was one of the first designers from Bangladesh to send her clothes for the Miss Universe Pageant and was particularly celebrated for her fusion of the eastern and western norms of clothing, patterns, shapes, and style.
She worked for magazines, tv shows, and fashion shows showcasing her prideful work on different platforms, and wore different hats in her different roles of a designer, teacher, homemaker and an art devotee.
“I reckon the seed of my love for clothing was planted earlier in my life by my mother, a strong working woman who loved to design outfits for me and my siblings. Growing up in the household of a progressive mother and creative siblings, my father’s watchful worries towards her only daughter’s career path became less concerning with my achievements and time,” Molly explains.
“As people say, if one can turn one’s hobby into a profession, he/she can truly shine through the work and have mental satisfaction at the end of the day. I found my calling through creating clothes for people and touching as many lives as I possibly can through that creation,” Molly explains.
The mystery of creation
“Clothes mean life to me. There are 3 absolute necessities of a civilized mankind, food, clothing and shelter, which goes to say how important clothing can be in one’s life. For me, my whole life revolves around making clothes for everybody that would make them feel good in their own individual skin,” Molly reveals.
In 2004, Molly launched bespoke tailoring and boutique solutions for both men and women, bringing her brand Enigma into fruition.
“With Enigma, I instantly got recognised for bringing innovation in clothing for both men and women, when often designers are more inclined towards focusing either one or the other. Women’s fashion is more celebrated in our culture, whereas the male garments often lack style, innovation, and attention,” the designer feels. Molly is enthralled to witness these changing norms and encourages such novelty with great excitement.
She recently launched her gen’s line last year during Ramadan featuring fashion stylist and choreographer, Faisal Tushar, as her brand ambassador, and received a striking response from the male clientele in a short period of time.
“It’s important to be well connected with the people that you work with, and my working partner Faisal has bestowed me with that support and inspiration to take my work forward and do more in the men’s fashion,” she asserts. Her photoshoot with Faisal broke the internet and got highly praised by the audience.
Where most designers are either fearful or indulgent of the term fusion, Molly’s has mastered the perfect ratio for the concoction of the East and the West. “As a designer, we have to break this ice as we are moving towards an inventive era of future fashion. With slight grooming, and a tint of confidence, people of any age can rock fashion in a way that brings out the uniqueness and individuality,” she deems.
The real deal
The people pleaser believes that a designer can not create clothes keeping a single point of reference in mind. One has to study, and be open to new ideas to be able to sustain in the industry. As an experienced entrepreneur, her plan is to remain open to changes and reinvent the existing concepts in fashion, remodeling them to the version suitable to the time and generations in hand.
The designer is known to take clients on appointments, to meet and study their thoughts and ideas. She takes notes on their preferences for their desired attires.
“We start with color swatches and build up from scratch according to customer’s ideas, and keep them involved throughout the process. This creates transparency and eliminates the gap between the expectation and the product. My defining trait would be my commitment towards their expectations and the dedication to bring it to fruition. My work ethic is my first priority as my reputation depends on it,” she further states.
Molly’s satisfaction lies in gratifying her clients, with the smile that reaches their eyes when they try it on, and the heartfelt appreciation that she receives through it. Her key to success has always been doing her level best with utmost sincerity and dedication. It’s also evident in her fanbase is solely based on the public relationship she has built over time.
“It’s not important how I envision the piece of garment to be, rather the aim is to provide them the service and the product of their money’s worth. When a designer opens a room to welcome suggestions from their clients, it allows them to have a friendly space for creation,” the designer deems.
While handing down some fashion tips, she reveals that every little detail from clothing to styling can make an impact in the way one looks. Looking good needs a little bit of smart thinking and attention to each element; from accessories to bags or shoes. Every element speaks volumes to the designer as she maps down the fashion identity of her customers.
“A model can rock an outfit and look flawless, but not everybody has the ideal body type or personality to carry outfits with the same confidence and ease. Hence, as a designer/ stylist, I make clothes that would make them feel comfortable in their own skin,” the fashioner explains.
Plans in the pipeline
Keeping the upcoming winter and the wedding season in the calendar, the trendsetter is planning to play with a lot of colors, patterns, and floral prints this season. The type of fabric that she uses also has to complement the designs and the ongoing trends. However, most of her interest lies in the cultural amalgamation of different clothing styles.
“I am planning to create a bridal collection where each design would be singular and unique. My competition has always been with myself and erasing the creative boundaries in my mind. In the future, I intend to surprise myself with different ideas and challenge my understanding of fashion even further,” Molly declares.
While referring to her critics, she explains, “It’s not unlikely for a designer to be mocked and ridiculed initially for their unique take on fashion and garments. However, revelation in fashion is continual. This is enabled more so by the means of media and the internet. Designers do not need to travel across the globe to gather experience and knowledge on fashion anymore. Everything we need to know can be attained through the touch of our fingertips,” Molly shares as she envisions a competitive market for the upcoming designers.
Alongside her creative projects, she also wishes to learn martial arts and tick that off from her bucket list. The future excites the artists, as she embraces her years in the industry with grace.