He is the man who dresses up Lalu Prasad Yadav and is as interesting as Lalu himself. Mohammed Azimur Rahman, a NIFT- graduated fashion designer, designs only for politicians. He owns a fashion studio- Protein in New Friends Colony, a plush locality in South Delhi. With many antics to his credit, Rahman makes a statement every time he picks up scissors. He sent BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, a blood-stained, ten-year-old looking kurta on the tenth anniversary of Godhra riots along with a message to act responsibly. He also made an interesting statement by designing a kurta made of more than 1000 condoms to mark AIDS awareness which was sent to the United Nations.
In a conversation with us on a sunny winter afternoon, he shares interesting anecdotes from his life:
TFR: Tell us about your clientele. Besides Lalu Prasad Yadav, which other politicians have you designed clothes for?
Rahman: Lalu Prasad Yadav was my first political client. It was in the year 2003, when Lalu ji was going to Pakistan that I designed a kurta for him. He wore that Kurta in Lahore. After that I have designed clothes for Sharad Yadav, Murali Manohar Joshi, Mani Shankar Aiyar, HD Kumaraswamy, Ahmed Patel and many others.
TFR: Imagine yourself as a teenager with multiple career options in front of you, why did you choose to become a fashion designer for politicians only?
Rahman: It was at the age of 15 that I decided to become a fashion designer. I always wanted to do something different and something creative. Unlike the people around me who wanted to become IAS officers, engineers etc. I chose this as my profession.
Fashion designers design for labels, film stars and models but I saw politicians as a so far untouched section of the society. I thought of exploring this territory further and plunged into designing for political leaders.
TFR: What was your claim to fame? How did your client list get the names it has?
Rahman: My claim to fame hands down has to be the Kurta that Lalu ji wore while presenting Rail budget in the parliament in 2008. It generated quite a buzz in the politician circles. I was also interviewed by the media all day long over Lalu ji wearing my creation. It was from there that politicians took a note of my work and added me to their favourite list of designers. Since then, there has been no looking back. I have designed for politicians from the right, left and centre and from every political party almost.
TFR: Do your clients present you with some special requirements? We would like to hear how is it to measure the leaders of the country?
Rahman: Yes they absolutely do. Most of them are very cordial and cooperative while giving instructions. Mani Shankar Aiyar, for instance likes his churidar pyajama to be tight, really tight. Similarly, Surendra Singh Nagar, Member of Parliament from Gautam Budh Nagar likes his attire to be body hugging. I personally take care of their requests.
You might call it a work hazard but it is difficult to work with politicians at times in the sense that their schedule does not make them easily available for measurement. It gets very taxing to seek appointments but not that I am complaining. Politicians are no more demanding than any other clientele that a fashion designer has.
TFR: Are they picky? Do they also bargain for the design job?
Rahman: No. Politicians do not bargain at all. Their wives do. In fact, their wives also play a key role in the measuring process and design selection. Once I went to an Ex-Minister in previous UP government’s house for taking his requirements and a conflict broke out between him and his wife over what the politician should be wearing. What really amused me was that the politician cornered me later in absence of his wife and requested me to concede to his request and ignore his wife’s!
TFR: So what is next on your list?
Rahman: Next, I am going to design and send a kurta to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The kurta will have a motif of peace and my aim is to send out a message of peace across the border. I had also sent a kurta to US President Barack Obama on the occasion of Holi.
TFR: We wish you all the luck and thanks for talking to us.