Munib Nawaz: Playlist Edition
The Uber stops outside an unnamed plaza on M.M Alam Road forcing me to do a double take. According to the pin that I had been sent I am at the correct location. However, as I scan the clumsy exterior of the building I cannot find a single board confirming that I am anywhere near the Munib Nawaz Boutique. Admittedly, my eyesight isn’t what it used to be and so I enquire with a guard regarding the exact location of where I need to be. He points me towards a stairwell with the instructions to turn right the minute I reach the second floor. Upon doing so I finally find myself at the Munib Nawaz Boutique, with not a minute to spare until my 1 PM appointment with the man behind the brand.
As I walk into the outlet I am greeted by the floor manager. He asks me to wait a while as Munib Nawaz is busy attending to an undisclosed matter of extreme urgency. Relieved of the burden of being the cause of our delayed interaction I retract into a velveteen armchair and take in my surroundings. From what I gather this man is a legend in the industry, maybe even an anomaly. He remains at the forefront of men’s fashionwear and yet the title of a fashion designer is the one he holds least dear. Fifteen years ago he had the who’s who of the entertainment industry climbing six flights of stairs to get to him, I’m glad to have only had to climb two. My train of thought is momentarily interrupted as I am ushered into the lair of Munib Nawaz.
It’s a while before Munib Nawaz joins me, through a sliding door I eavesdrop rather shamelessly on a conversation that he’s having with his team. A Coke-Studio famous singer and a cricketer of some infamy are both waiting on their orders to be shipped; they’ll be ready to go in an hour at most. Meanwhile, an early 90’s has-been is looking for an image overhaul and a Munib Nawaz bomber jacket will turn his fortunes around. It can be arranged but the singer must watch his diet for the next week to avoid last minute alterations, “Not like last time, please.”
When I finally have a chance to sit down with Munib Nawaz I feel guilty for having intruded on such a busy day, he assures me that it’s not a big deal at all, “This is every day.” I have come in with a list of questions and my editor’s hat on, both are soon discarded as Munib Nawaz seems to have a unique ability to put those around him at ease. That is not to say that I did not feel challenged. He is quick to poke holes into any insider information I thought I had on him. His eyes are rather animated as they jump from one corner to another, widening when he has a sudden idea that he needs to convey across the sliding door, zeroing in on me every time I speak and drifting when he’s losing interest. As he examines the wall behind me I feel like a deer caught in the headlights. I quickly look for common ground: music.
At the mention of music, I finally manage to get a reaction out of this man, I thank the Gods; old and new. When he’s not busy running a fashion empire that spans across three different time zones, Munib Nawaz moonlights as an RJ on FM91. His association with music has deep roots. “I grew up on Rock & Roll, it’s an intrinsic part of my design process, in fact, it often directs the process.” It makes sense that he’s such a favorite with the musicians in Pakistan, his aesthetic reflects years of musical influence and understanding. Being styled by Munib Nawaz is considered a rite of passage for local performers today. A graduation of sorts; the moment when you know you’ve made it.
He tells me that he has music specially produced for his shows and is willing to pay inordinate amounts in royalties if he finds a song that he wants for his show. Stealing music is as morally repugnant as it gets in his books. Soon enough he’s the one running our interview as he asks me what kind of music I listen to. My mellow proclivities seemed to slightly offend him as his eyes narrowed at the mention of Jamie Woon. “How about I play a few songs from my playlist for you, write them down!” and he points towards the woven Moleskine in my lap. A portable speaker is retrieved from the shelf and placed between us, on top of his workstation. He fiddles a minute with his YouTube playlist, “Not this, maybe this one… actually their other album was better.. wait, okay here we go.” I click my pen into action. “Pay attention.”
He asks me if I’ve ever heard of Saturnus.
“Only from the mouth of a boy I knew, he was cute but he had terrible taste in music.”
By this point, I have established some sort of a fleeting repertoire with Munib Nawaz and feel comfortable enough to indulge in banter. He quickly points out what he considers my folly and proceeds to play a remarkable track by the band. This is quickly followed up by a song that I find slightly more kosher; Metallica I can handle.
“Love is Blindness is an absolute classic, but nobody does it better than Lee-La Baum,” I disagree. The Jack White version is more to my liking. Soon enough, his team members have started to miss him. The Hum Style Awards are fast approaching and a Best Actor nominee is insistent of acquiring a custom made Munib Nawaz suit for the red carpet. On another call a famous musician wants his Defence Day Performance sherwani to be further bedazzled.
As Chris Cornell’s falsetto simmers down I realize that Munib has no more time left on his schedule to expedite. Throughout the course of our interaction, I find him incredibly polite. This causes me to be almost certain that he will not excuse himself despite being on a schedule. Therefore, I decide that perhaps it is best that I take my leave.
I thank him for being so generous with his time and Munib Nawaz guides me back to the waiting area. Before I am out the door he has already disappeared behind the thick sliding door. I head down the stairwell, clutching my custom-made, bespoke Munib Nawaz playlist.