“Madonna. Angelina Jolie, Sheryl Crow, Alanis’ Marissette.. YBQ has designed clothes for all of them. After his hollywood stint, this versatile and successful designer-cum-artist returned home to Karachi and opened an artist Commune in Miskeen Gali near Sultnanabad.”
Yousuf Bashir Qureshi is a walking talking mystery. His personality is somewhat like a dichotomy, a disunion, he carries himself inversely, he wears sports a knee-length white tunic with a wrap-around lungi and to add to the look, thick silver bracelets, earthy Crocs and hand-made artistic bag. He has twinkly eyes and an easy smile, he is referred as bhudda baba by people for the way he carries himself. “I am a malang” says the father of three who attended the University of Nebraska and graduated in Food Sciences. After graduation Qureshi opened a fashion café in Lincoln, Nebraska, called the Silk Café, after the Silk route that runs along the Pakistani border. It was here that Yousuf learned the technicalities and craftsmanship of fashion design.
I went to his artistic Commune on Saturday, which is also a clothing warehouse, situated in Miskeen Gali, Karachi. From America to Miskeen gali, Qureshi explains it on a skype call with me from Dubai –
-“Back then in 2000 in America, when I was 29, I received a call from my best friend saying “tu bohat yaad araha hai, tu wapis aja”. My best friend is my late grandfather who was really sick when he called me. That call and I returned home to Pakistan and converted my house into my “home away from home” which serves as an office space, a base for me to run my celebrity haute couture fashion lines abroad.”
In his artistic gallery , there were Colorful garments dyed in festive hues hang against eggshell-white walls, beautiful pieces of art work flaunting their immortal depth and one of the most interesting things is the faces made of clay, all having distinguished characteristic features of YBQ’s comrades which added another talent in the list that Qureshi can mould clay into faces. The space is also used for events, art exhibitions and performances. It includes the YBQ design studio, where he designs everything from logos to furniture, the YBQ printing press, the YBQ photo studio and a salon which is run by Nabila.
-“Everything I need, or want or desire is here”
He further added, “I do not like to depend on anyone but myself for anything so here it is my commune, the place which gives me internal bliss”
When asked about his clothes and creativity:
-“In my work, you will find my heritage — the Indus Valley civilization — but you will also find a lot of the United States because that’s where I was trained,”
When not brainstorming new styles for his clothing collection, Qureshi divides his time between teaching courses on fashion design at Indus Valley College. Right now he is owner of YBQ studios, Magnus Communications, Commune artist Colony and United Pakistan. He also runs an organic farm which grows rice, wheat, tomatoes, chilly etc.
His father wanted him to make a plaza on his properties. Qureshi explains it like this:
-“I never understood the idea of making a plaza. I asked my father why a plaza? He replied “to make money”, I asked him what we do with more money. I cannot eat 5 times a day or drive two cars at the same time, live in two houses or sleep in two beds . If my lifestyle will not change, what is the need of it?”
He further added: “All these things were amalgamation of making the commune and I believe more such places should be made in
the city so that we are able to benefit others . Identify your strength and use it to benefit others. Our weaknesses are our neglected powers , those we didn’t pay attention to, just like if we won’t look after our health, we will fall sick, if we don’t pay attention to our business, we will have to suffer the loss and if we don’t love, we won’t get love.”
When I asked him about the scope of fashion designing in Pakistan:
-“Scope is a very petrifying word, it scares you. But I believe that Scope is only for the best, if you are the best, you will always be in the market, the best person is the one who is brave and thirsty for knowledge. Now-a-days we have Google (a.s), which gives you answers but what you have to do with information is the challenge. One should utilize it to benefit others. When you have knowledge, share it with others, it turns into wisdom.”
His life and decisions were refection of his inner self, he explained the depth of his beliefs in the words of Iqbal:
-“Allah has made human beings as King, he is in our hearts so ultimately we are king. We should have self-awareness. When we were born, there was a celebration and when we will die there will be a celebration. So in the time where you have to live, live not like a beggar but a king with “ishq of self” i.e. Value yourself, understand your responsibility.
‘ Ae tair-e- lahooti us rizq se mout achi
jis risq se ati ho parwaz main kotahi ’
During this time, Qureshi’s passion for the arts was not limited to fashion design. His creative ability stretched in the realm of visual arts. His photographs have been featured in National Geographic, Dawn News, Libas, Newsline and Expoze, while some of his paintings are held in the Blue Room of the Pakistan Navy house.
“To me the idea of an artist was once a foreign idea,” Qureshi explains, “but these experiences have helped me recognize the artist that was always within me. Inside of me I know what I am and who I am. I am an artist.”
Indeed, he is an ARTIST!