I am a fighter just like my father and grandfather. I married young, and was really quite a stupid little girl, who thought life was about, love and marriage. Life taught me a few hard lessons in the years to follow and I am grateful, for it brought me to where I am today. I am constantly humbled by my good fortune and am not one to “cry over spilt milk” -Maheen Khan

Born MAHEEN ABBAS in May 1945 ,the third among four sisters she was always a dreamer. She had and still has a charming, child-like impatience to get on with life. Very soon after she left school she applied for and succeeded in getting a job in a women’s magazine, writing on beauty and fashion, topics she still talks about avidly and within a context like none other.

Marriage followed soon after, (1965) and brought with it the usual tough realities of life and survival. For the idealistic Maheen, that was the turning point in her life. It was then that she decided to start a small tailoring establishment. Ten years later, by 1975, she had become a household name in fine tailoring. A standard for high quality well crafted Fashion had been set by her. The first commission to design a wardrobe came in and she was well on her way to being a designer. There’s been no looking back. She has no regrets at not having a university education and likes to say she read at the University of Life. The road was long and arduous, but she got there! And continues, effortlessly.


The years before had been my “education” in fashion. Not four years in a college but twelve years, learning on the job and discovering my own philosophy on fashion.-Maheen Khan

Khan started her career in the fashion industry as a designer in 1972 but there’s more to the story before that, ever since the entrepreneurial designer opened her first tailoring shop in the early seventies in Lahore titled The Seamstress, she has gone from strength to strength. At 26, Khan starts off stitching clothes for her friends and hasn’t looked back since. Within a year she has a tailor shop in her garage called “Seamstress”. With just Rupees 60,000 and a head full of ideas she launches the classic collection. Today she is better known as the doyenne of fashion in Pakistan, and recently dubbed the ‘Coco Channel of the East by the Italian press, Maheen has through the years made quite a name for herself internationally. 

Today, more than twenty international shows and over thirty years later, she is a legend in the Pakistani fashion world. Through the years, Maheen has made quite a name for herself internationally.  In addition to dressing royalty and celebrities, she has affiliates and partners throughout the world. Along with award-winning London-based costume designer Diane Holmes, Maheen also runs an embroidery house that has created period embroidery for theatre production s in Europe and the UK. Her company’s impressive resume includes a multitude of productions such as Figaro for the Welsh National Opera and Mozart at the Royal Vienna Opera House, and embroidery for  the entire production costume and sets of  Oliver Stone’s epic film Alexander The Great.


From the first I was striving for perfection, learning from everyone and anyone. I’m still learning still hungry.-Maheen Khan 

A true leader and the ‘mother of fashion,’ she took up the responsibility of mentoring  an endless amount of young talent, over the years. She gave a platform, shared her wisdom and nurtured her mentees with the knowledge of her career until they were ready to stand on their own two feet and explore the world of fashion. It is no surprise, that such a member of the industry was unanimously voted as the first Chairperson of the Fashion Pakistan Council and continues to promote the Fashion industry, a cause very close to her heart.

Today, in spite of her busy life, she continues to encourage and mentor younger designers, fashion photographers and models. Her doors are always open to any one related to the fashion world! Maheen was the first to encourage fashion bloggers and insist they be given front row seats. Today no fashion event is held without the presence of bloggers. In 1985, she was the first designer to insist that models must be paid for their work. (All fashion shows at that time were charity events). 

Her efforts are reflected in the fact that today modeling is a vibrant career option.
She was the first to hold exhibitions and shows outside the country. A proud Pakistani, she has been an ambassador through fashion, taking Pakistan’s softer image across the globe and has with her pioneering efforts created that channel for others to get international exposure as well. Today all designers travel for business extensively.

In 2007 she created the first Truly Pakistani branded label and called it ‘GULABO.’ Essentially inspired by the folk visual art on the mass transportation network across the country, ‘Truck Art’ and the Pakistanis’ love for color. Today almost every designer in Pakistan and Luxury brands such as D&G use truck art as inspiration for their collections.

In 1998, I set up an embroidery house, along with an award winning costume designer, Diane Holmes, In London. The film Jinnah was being shot in Karachi and I was assigned to work with the Costume Designer who happened to be Diane Holmes. Diane left before the completion of the film, she rang asking if i would like to work with her on a BBC project, the Aristocrats. We set up an Embroidery house together.” -Maheen Khan

As she puts it, “I will keep learning till the end’ !


Leaving my hair naturally gray was a milestone in my life. I shed a lot of trying to “look young baggage” along with my dyed hair and long locks. I feel free. I look at life differently now and in a sense I feel younger and more confident than I ever have. I realize I can design anything I like and give it my signature stamp. I feel I can go on forever.-Maheen Khan

Legacy as a designer
The flowing chiffon lines that have become a hall mark of the Maheen Label
The achkan worn by men ,restyled into a stylish jacket for women .her answer to the ‘little black dress ‘
The Angrakha stylised  as a modern garment in 1984 and picked up by designers all over the country
The half -sari or the draped sari ,designed in the early nineties and continues to be a formal evening favourite

Wiki women maheen dressed
created Benazir Bhutto’s signature look of white head scarf and green top.

Today this is the hallmark of every female politician in Pakistan

  • Begum Salima Agha Khan
  • BEGUM Abida Hussain
  • Princess Sarwat & her daughters
  • Nusrat Bhutto
  • Ghinwa & Fatima Bhutto
  • Jemima Khan
  • Tehmina Durrani

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