Nabila’s ‘No Make-up’ reveals a powerhouse at her peak



You can count on Nabila for many things: a fantastic haircut, a miraculous makeover or popularising bridal looks that make a girl appear refreshingly like herself rather than a caked-up Bollywood siren.

In the sphere of all things glamorous, she can be counted upon to push new boundaries. For the past three decades, she’s been a pioneer; always a step ahead, reinventing the Pakistani perception towards hair and make-up.

Now, with a tiny little box, she’s devised a way for women to achieve the ‘no make-up’ look.

I remember her showing me her own personalised box two odd years ago. “This is my little vanity case,” she said. “It holds all the make-up I need for the whole day.” The compartmentalised make-up box held variations of blush, concealer, blender, lip colour and face powder, especially mixed according to Nabila’s skin-type.

“I am developing this box for retail in the market,” she had said back then – but it’s taken two years for ‘NO make-up’ to be ready for retail.

The story behind Nabila’s ‘No Make-up’

“Developing the initial product was easy,” says Nabila. “I created it in a lab in Europe. It was the final tweaking and fine-tuning that took ages. I wanted to package it just the right way and include enough quantities of each product to last a woman several months.”

“At first, I had created two versions, one to suit my skin in the winters and the other to suit me when I had a tan,” says Nabila. “I realised that more variety had to be added to suit different Pakistani skin types. I had to consider skin tones, the light, the texture that had to blend in for an effortless look and the general psyche, where everybody prefers the pretty, fair look rather than the bronzed effect.”

The box contains a base, concealer, blender, lip colour and a blush. — Photo courtesy: Tapu Javeri's Instagram
The box contains a base, concealer, blender, lip colour and a blush. — Photo courtesy: Tapu Javeri’s Instagram

The final product, the ‘NO make-up’ box, is available in five options for different skin tones and retailing at Nabila’s salon and Scentsation outlets all over the country at a whopping Rs6,500. TCS Hazir, on the quest to latch on to all things trendy, is also home-delivering the palette on order.

Doesn’t Nabila think the price is too steep for her initial foray into retail?

“It’s five products in one,” she points out.

“The makeup is all being manufactured in Europe and since it’s particularly created with the Pakistani skin in mind, it actually works better on our skins. All a woman needs to do is identify her skin tone and I have done the rest of her thinking for her.”

‘No Make-up’ aside, Nabila’s also tilting the fashion week game in her favour

One of the first women to try out the new palette was Indian actor Pooja Bhatt when she walked the catwalk for Deepak Perwani at the recent Telenor Fashion Pakistan Week. “She took one for herself and one for her sister,” says Nabila. In the few short days since its launch, the product has won many more fans, veritably ‘flying off the shelves’, she says.

It’s the icing on the cake for a year that’s been about Nabila holding fort here, there and everywhere. The ‘magic curl’ tool she introduced into the market in 2014 managed to sell well with its hands-on styling technique, proving to be a test-run in retail for the introduction of ‘NO Make-up’.

At fashion weeks, Nabila’s army of 40 odd stylists has taken center stage, working behind the scenes on almost any event worth its mettle. Even Pakistan’s motley crew of awards ceremonies are now opting for styling by Nabila.

The results are fresh-faced impeccable models and stars but one wonders how Nabila managed to bring about such a change in heart amongst channel bigwigs and sponsors.

Backstage madness at this years' FPW.
Backstage madness at this years’ FPW.

Until last year, many were more than happy to enlist the services of Sabs, who paid to be part of a fashion week as opposed to Nabila, who gets paid. Many more were hiring younger, less expensive stylists.

How did Nabila swoop in in such an all-pervasive way?

“I didn’t do anything except make sure that my work stood out for its neatness and innovation,” she says.

“Occasionally, I’d get enlisted for just a single day at fashion week and just that one day made the difference between others and me stand out. Suddenly, the offers to style entire events just began coming in. It isn’t a very profitable business. I invest so much in my training and hair-pieces and accessories that I only barely break even. But it’s fabulous for my PR.”

Another PR exercise is the sudden appearance of her brand at talk-shows of the dubious variety; talking fashion and style with Mubasher Lucman and demonstrating usage of the high-end Magic Curl at the ludicrous Aamir Liaquat show.

It might be cringe-worthy for Nabila’s regular high-profile clientele to see their favorite brand venture into these grounds.

“A large number of people watch these talk shows and I want them to know about my products,” says Nabila. “These are products that I have developed for all of Pakistan and I don’t want to just sell them to a niche clientele. I want to bring Paris to Pakistan rather than go and stay in Paris myself!”

From a star-studded very successful ‘NO Make-up’ launch last weekend to the HUM TV awards this weekend, followed up by a four-day tryst at the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week in Lahore, Nabila’s on a roll. Look again, and she’ll be off to a training course abroad.

Bat an eyelid and you may find her climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, as she did three months ago. “The trek helped me lose 15 pounds,” she laughs.She’s never looked better: svelte, smart and on-the-go. ‘NO Make-up’ suits her. So does success.

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