There have been many models who have made their mark in the industry in the past decade or so, but none have been able to come to par with the biggest name of that era, Mehreen Syed. She’s been a powerful figure on the runway, an emotive face in front of the camera, and one, who has made philanthropy fashionable through all that she’s done for the many underprivileged women around Pakistan.
There’s a lot that one could say about Mehreen, and there’s tons that has already been written about her. But, what does she say have to say about the things close to her?
Diva explores as Mehreen talks on ten things she has a lot to say about…
On Ather Shahzad
When I started my career, I did so with Ather Shahzad. I was quite young and I was studying, so the only platform I thought was right was theirs. I continued my job along with working with them, but since it was a great platform, I was supported my family as well. My loyalties to this day, lie with Ather Shahzad.
There was never a contract as people have suggested, but I am extremely loyal to them. All my life, in my difficult times, they are the ones who have taught me everything. Not only are they my mentor and friends, but there’s a relationship with them that I can never forget. Afterwards when I became popular, I decided I would only work with them.
On Being A Showstopper
Let me tell you the truth, a designer would never give his last, show-stopping outfit to any random model or on the basis of money, because it is their hard-work of more than a year. My great habit has been that I have never mistreated a designer’s ensemble. I do justice to their outfits, and never have I ever thought on the runway about how I look, I have always thought about how the designers’ outfit would look.
Many models have questioned why I have been chosen as a showstopper time and again, and the answer is simple – because I’m the best!
I lost my father when I was three years old and I have only seen my mother and others around me working. We were four daughters, but our mother raised us in the best way she could. I have seen tough times growing up, but my mother always told me to remain thankful. So, naturally, now, that I have become someone, I wanted to give back as well. I started IFAP for this reason ten years ago, as I wanted women who weren’t able to leave their houses to work, to be able to learn beauty and makeup skills so they could work from home. Working on this motto to help underprivileged girls then I started iCare in 2016 where I am working with Loreal Foundation France, Punjab Skill Development, and the US Embassy.
I have managed to empower 5000 women as of now, and for me this is the proudest moment. This year too, during the pandemic, I have also been able to, for the first time, empower 35 members of transgender community by working with the Punjab Skill Development. Next year as well in 2021, we will be working with more women and trans community, as I have been signed on as the ambassador for the trans community by the Punjab government.
I am one of the few models and actresses from the world who have had the longest association with L’Oréal . I’ve been working with them since ten years, which in itself is a feat. It is the only brand in Pakistan, who support their spokesperson through it all. They have been a part of my progress, and they chanced the whole perception of who ‘Mehreen Syed’ is.
I started helping people ten years ago, and it was Musharraf Hai, the former head of L’Oréal Pakistan four years ago who supported me in helping people by launching a NGO for underprivileged girls. So, in my life’s journey and aim of helping others has been supported thoroughly by L’Oréal and I am so proud to be associated with the brand.
On Being a Mother
Today, I would believe that if there is one thing that teaches you the most, it is being a mother. I would like to tell you that when my second child was born, Ibrahim, there were complications after he was born. He has gone through almost sixteen surgeries, and I saw him persevering through it all.
For a mother, it is something that makes you a warrior. It’s extremely tough to see your child going through that. When you see your child going through something, it just makes you even more stronger than anything else. That said, I have always kept my children down to earth and they have nothing but respect for everyone.
On Being a Wife
It’s been a part of my journey. I have been a model, a businesswoman, and a daughter, so this was just the next step. Till I was modelling, I was only passionate about that. Now, that I am married, now this is what I have as my focus as well. I plan things in my life, and this was of course, something I wanted to do after I was at the peak of my career.
On Favourite Designers
To be honest, there are some designers who are my close friends such as HSY, Umar Sayeed, Faraz Manan or Mehdi, for whom I usually do most of my shoots and shows for.There’s a bonding there that has been created over the years, so I love working with them. But, you would honestly see me working with everyone, and I keep it that way as it is a part of my career.
On Models of Today
Today, you see a lot of models who are working hard, but you also see many who could just be considered Insta models. Ours was a different time, I would say. I believe there aren’t many models out there who aren’t working that hard. We had to work extra-hard just to make it. I believe just like how you can’t learn to do something from just seeing it on Youtube, just like that you cannot become a model overnight either.
To become a model or a supermodel, you need to be humble in your work, and you need to have attitude during your runway, not otherwise. Today, I see many models saying ‘I am the one’, but that shouldn’t be something you need to be saying, but rather the critics. That said, I do feel the models today are doing great work and they have way more opportunities today that we just didn’t have.
When it comes to style, I have learnt it. I can proudly say that I have learned it all through time, with whatever budget I used to have. People like Shahzad Raza, Umar Sayeed, and HSY have taught me with time. I also went to finishing school in Switzerland to learn more about styling, etc.
I wanted to become a role model for everyone who comes from a middle-class background to understand that they could become like me too. I learned a lot about styling through the fashion industry, and I would definitely give them a lot of credit for grooming me. Yes, I do believe I always was stylish, but then the industry honed it even more. I do want to say to all the girls, that there’s no shame in learning and educating yourselves about style.
On Being A Supermodel
You don’t get this term out of nowhere, it comes with hard-work and time. It comes with what the industry and its critics feel about you. When people call me a supermodel, I still feel I have lots to polish. When I see new shoots here and internationally, I still want to do those. I honestly don’t know when I went from a model to a supermodel, but this I do know, that when I came, the critics and other models didn’t really like me.
For more than seven years, I was nominated for the LSAs and I finally won one, so I always think you get what is coming for you. There is still an urge in me to work more, and that I think is what being a supermodel is about. I have done more than 300 shows but I still want to do more.