Interview of Rezz Aly Shah

Rezz Aly Shah, an eminent event manager from Isloo needs no introduction. Graduated as a lawyer, also did MBA in marketing, Rezz worked for a few years in completely diverse fields but ended up as an event manager, something which he thinks he is meant to be. Today Rezz’s mere name spells success in event management. Pick up any mega event in the capital, and chances are it is being headed by him.

Carrying a slim designer logo valise, Islamabad’s leading event planner and fashion choreographer, and CEO of Rezz Events, looks in control.

“I love wearing Roberto Cavvali,” he says knowingly and mischievously.

The 30-year-old Cancerian has experienced myriad changes in life. His father was in government service hence the family lived in Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar, before settling in Islamabad. In college, he studied political science and later earned degrees in law and MBA. “I worked with a law firm for a year but felt I was kept in confinement,” Rezz reminisces ruefully. “I have always been inclined towards fashion. I modelled while living in Karachi and even won the First Face title at a pageant organized for television by an ad agency.”

This led to a run on the ramp from 1990 to 1994 and more modelling stints for Deepak Perwani and fashion shoots with Nadeem A. Khan.

In 2001, with a fresh taste of glamour enmeshed in his veins, he launched the event management firm. “My father’s passing away earlier the same year precipitated the decision to do so. I feel he might not have approved but my mother has been very supportive.”

He says he began by doing event management as an experiment and started with club and amateur nights. Since then Rezz Events has accumulated an impressive roster of events with prestigious clients and locales. These include restaurant and cafe launches in Islamabad, a United Nations’ show, a masquerade ball for the French Voluntary Women’s Organization, a cultural fashion gala for the Pakistan Squash Federation and fashion show for designer Sadia Mirza and another one at the Dutch embassy with a prominent Dutch designer.

Today, he is known as a rising supernova choreographer, one who has executed myriad fashion shows, working with designers Maria B, Maheen Khan, Nadia Mistry, Sagar Mehrs Sara Salman, Ayesha Sana, DETAILS, Faryaal Mystique, Sadia Mirza, AsimYar and QYT, Asma Khan, Nickie and Nina, Islooites Mariam Pasha and Tayyab, Amina Malik, Amir Adnan, Cotton & Cotton and even Parisian manufacturer Mahmood Bhatti. “I worked with Bhatti’s French troupe while he was here to celebrate his 25 years in fashion. They were very professional and knew their job well,” he says.

Rezz’s favourite event so far was a black-tie starrer at an Islamabad-based five-star hotel for a LA-based chain of stores. “It was a challenge. There was a double runway which was huge. Although it was well-organized, we still lost six models and maintained six. I was very proud that I could train six new girls up to par in 10 days.”

In the winter of 2005, he choreographed a gala night for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in Rawalpindi at which President Pervez Musharraf and Sehba Musharraf were the chief guests. Islamabad-based designer Amina Malik had designed clothes for a special segment that reflected Pakistani culture beginning from pre-colonial days to the present time with a special mime performance depicting the plight of Kashmir. He also enjoyed doing a spring show for Begum Sehba Musharaf at Presidency for International Flower Society in March 2006 for PNCA. 

‘I don’t want to be part of any camp, agenda or gossip. I want a clean work life. People may assume many things but I prefer to keep my chin up,’ says Rezz Aly Shah

These days, Rezz is developing a pilot for a fashion segment with a new channel called Fashion Buzz with Rezz in which he takes a crew to chat with myriad fashion industry insiders including designers, stylists, models, fashion school students, etc, and covers fashionable launches and store openings.

So how did this transmogrification from law clerk to fashionista arise? “I think it has to do with inborn creativity. I followed my instinct and learned. I was encouraged by friends who are designers and models. It’s about having a vision and creating a solid team. He credits his two assistants Maha and Arif, and his finance manager Asad, with his success. “In all my shows I use the same people including DJ Ali Mustafa in Islamabad and DJ Asif in Karachi.”

In his shows, Rezz says he does much of the music himself. “It is a coordinated effort between the DJ and myself. I love using a multimedia screen and some colour although most designers prefer a white backdrop.” He says he prefers to do fashion shows rather than charity balls.

However, despite all the successes there have also been some glitches and palpable horror stories. “I was involved in a charity event for Sevaj which was really messed up. At the end of the day, I’m not a table seller.” Another Draconian episode concerned a media and fashion institute in Islamabad. “I was hired to do the show with the top models and I told them that I preferred doing the stage and music myself. Suddenly the venue was changed to a farm house. Their approach to the entire thing was very unprofessional. The show didn’t start until 12 midnight and the ramp they created was horrible. I felt sorry for the students who wanted to show their creations. We all walked out because one has to stand up for one’s rights. Sometimes it is not about money but about commitment.
“I am not a cutthroat. If I am asked to get the top models, I will not get their replacements. I have to deliver and am answerable to the client who usually looks for famous faces. If famous face ‘A’ is not available then famous face ‘B’ will do. Some feel as long as they are paying us we are bonded labour. But I try to follow full protocol,” he says.

Rezz says that although he knows that Islamabad is a small market for the type of work he is involved in, he hopes the fashion scene there eventually grows. “I love my work no matter where it takes me — Lahore, Karachi and beyond.” He says if he had enough work in Karachi he would move there fully cognizant of Freiha Altaf and Imran Kureishi’s competitiveness and territorialism. He says he can even do smaller shows in Karachi without stepping on anyone’s toes.

What are his opinions about his choreographing predecessors? “I am fond of Freiha, although I don’t know her too well,” he steps delicately. “I’d definitely like to do work like her and get work of her calibre. She’s an icon in fashion choreography. In 10 years time, I’d like to be at Freiha’s level. But perhaps not,” he muses, thinking of the pressures that have turned the once creative choreographer to a client-pleasing automaton.

About Imran Kureishi Rezz says: “I am very fond of Imran bhai. He gives me guidelines and I respect him.” And what about his near peer Hasan Shehryar? “HSY is a friend and a very good designer. I prefer him as the latter, although he’s proven himself well in both oeuvres,” he says diplomatically.

Rezz has a long list of favourite models that include Karachiites Iraj, Rubab, Fauzia, Maha, Tooba, and Nadia Hussain and Lahoriites Nadia Malik, Neha, Sofia Khan and Mehreen Syed. As far as stylists are concerned he says he “loves to work with Musarrat Baji of Depilex and her Depilex Vision. Athar Shahzad on the contrary is good too”.

Rezz says he only uses male models as props. “I need boys to fill in sequences as fillers unless required by the designer,” he says, perhaps angering the slew of male models who have for seasons been trying to legitimize their own relevance and careers. My most Fav male models are Daniyal and Rizwan Hyder.

For a time Rezz had become quite a fixture (and an object of derision) in all the social rags. “The cheek-to-cheek photos are the real Rezz,” he says without irony. “I suppose I’m camera friendly. Photographers love me especially around famous faces. But people don’t realize that I might be emotionally dying inside but I need to show a happy-go-lucky face and now I keep the cheeks away, LOL LOL.”

Rezz feels he is intrinsically a lonely person. “When the world becomes catty, nasty and hectic, I might light my candles in my room and stay there for two days. I go to my room but am never idle.”

He says he loves entertaining at home where he has a private area. He doesn’t have a best friend, although he cites his mother as a contender. “She has been supportive and allowed me to become who I am”.
His close friends include Murtaza Hashwani, photographer Kaleem Ahsan (Mickey), (Natasha Hussain), model Nadia Malik and Natasha Zafar-Adil, a banker by profession, QYT and creative manager Adnan Ansari.

(Source: Weekly Pulse)

When it comes to any mega event being taken place, chances are it is being headed by Rezz Aly Shah - a big name in the world of event management.

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