“It took a team of 20 people, rotating in shifts, around 100 days"
Pakistani designer Mahpara Khan was given the opportunity to dress Queen Maxima of the Netherlands at the recent Jordanian royal wedding.
Mahpara is a well-established print/pattern fashion designer who has created designs for major Pakistani brands such as Gul Ahmed, Sapphire and Rungrez.
The unexpected collaboration was sparked during her 2019 visit to Pakistan, after which they started to coordinate with the royal stylists.
Mahpara explained: “The Queen had seen a few samples at our studio and understood the level of detail and intricacy that would go into each design.
“This led to several months of coordination and design.”
Speaking about the gown, Mahpara said:
“The design was completely handcrafted.
“It took a team of 20 people, rotating in shifts, around 100 days to complete the surface design (embellishments, handwork), while the toile (rough silhouette) took around a week.
“In this particular design, there was added complexity of tailoring this to precise measurements without being in physical proximity to the Queen.
“We had to go back and forth with her stylists for over 90 days to get the fit and fall right.”
Queen Maxima requested a unique custom fit piece that would honour traditional craft with a Western outline.
Wanting to provide both tradition and modernity, Mahpara presented Mughal patterns as a nod to the rich history of royals in the Subcontinent.
It was a champagne-coloured, floor-length dress embellished with intricate details.
Mahpara said: “The challenge was to design a silhouette that was global while keeping the motifs and patterns traditional, as an ode to Pakistan.”
Stating that the challenge was making the dress light enough to wear while still making it ornate and intricate, Mahpara continued:
“I feel Pakistani bridal and formal wear is truly unique in that it truly is handcrafted in every sense of the word.
“The techniques used are ancient and passed down from generation to generation.
“When everything is said and done, each dress has 50 different artisans who have worked on it.”
Queen Maxima paired the gown with a crown, delicate earrings and a necklace.
The raw silk gown had shades of gold, red and deep blue in homage to the Netherlands’ flag.
The Queen wore the dress to the wedding reception of Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussain and Princess Rajwa of Saudi Arabia at the Zahran Palace.
While Mahpara was honoured to create a dress for Queen Maxima, the one thing she remembers from her visit to her studio in 2019 was how “incredibly genuine she was”.
The designer added: “She, her security staff and the people coordinating the visit were down to earth and humble.”