After meeting the amazing people of the Himalayas, and seeing for herself how trade for Nepal had for centuries been locked between the two superpowers of China and India, Leila Hafzi realized that the craftsmen and women in Nepal sorely needed guidance in product development to gear their products more towards the Western market. Working with tailors, hand knitters and craftsmen, made her fall in love with the people and place. It became her mission and passion to show the world what Nepal could do, working to develop small factories and act like a window into the high-end luxury fashion industry. Traditional, skilled Thanka painters formed the basis of Hafzi’s early collections. The cooperative that Leila works with for hand-painting silk is the only one in Nepal, originally developed by a Dutch monk who brought Italian silk painters to train the Nepalese painters, over twenty five years ago. “Realizing the effect of product development in the third world made me passionate about the work, proving that ethical and ecological trade is possible in high-end fashion.”
Building a network across Nepal, Leila works with the best fabrics and tailors the country has to offer. Her goal of introducing an ecological and ethical, global trading company in Nepal has remained unchanged since she first established her label. Leila is working towards the development of an entirely environmentally friendly production cycle. Every piece in the collection is produced in Nepal, many hand-painted or dyed in Nepal, using low impact dyes and a closed circuit water management system. Now known more for her romantic, feminine and bohemian bridal dresses, her designs are the ultimate fairly tale dress, replete with wispy sheer fabrications, long trains, and strewn with hand made flowers. “For me it is a balance between creating works in developing countries, establishing a long term market position and then step by step making fully ecological collections.
Some of Leila Hafzi’s more extravagant, red carpet gowns utilize as much as twenty five meters of silk, the hand painted ones taking four artists up to four days to paint. Her sophisticated and elegant gowns have complex and extravagant draping, reminiscent of Grecian and Egyptian silhouettes in their grandeur and impact. Her collections are inspired by a multitude of diverse cultural influences, including Tibetan monks cloaks, mixed with equal measures of Greek goddess and fairly tale princess. Her intricately embellished bridal gowns with applied floral garlands are her signature, embellishing extravagant and voluminous gowns with their strategic and impactful placement. Her shorter cocktail length dresses, are no less luxurious with fine hand-dyed silk chiffon and voluminous silhouettes, reminiscent of her early designs of vibrantly painted peacock feathers and exotic animals in jewel tones.
Leila Hafzi has been the recipient of multiple international awards, and has been voted designer of the year twice by KK and Costume Awards, as well as the Environmental prize of the decade by OFW and the Fashion for a Cause. Hafzi is a proud member of the Ethical Trading Initiative. She sells her own collection through high-end boutiques around the world, with her signature pieces often seen adorning celebrities at red carpet events.