Any self-confessed fashionista will already have Alia Raffia on their radar. The Manchester-based Fashion Designer and Museum Professional has amassed a social media following of over 400k followers, who are eager to see her latest creations; handmade South Asian fusion fashion. Her entire wardrobe comprises original made-to-measure creations all of which capture her passion for cultural clothing. But over lockdown, like many creatives, Alia had a chance to explore another side of her talents. She self-taught herself to become a Mughal Miniature Artist, a medium she had dabbled in but has now mastered. Asianatv caught up with Alia to find out more about how she’s going back to her roots through art and fashion.
Alia, we know you as a Fashion Designer – an Influencer who makes her own clothes, so what inspired you to turn your hand to painting?
As a teenager, I learnt how to sew my own clothes as I wanted to dress in traditional South Asian styles, as they were not so readily available like today. In 2017 I started sharing my outfits on social media and surprisingly amassed a following of over 400,000 people across Instagram, Snapchat, and now Tik Tok. I am firmly against modern-day slavery and I know that what I am creating is ethically made. I sew as a protest to all of the exploitation of garment factory workers in South Asia. It was always my aspiration to be an artist, and although I have always painted, I was never brave enough to share my work. Earlier this year I started sharing my Mughal miniature paintings and they were really well received, so I decided to take it more seriously and created a website where I now sell my work.
“I sew as a protest to all of the exploitation of garment factory workers in South Asia.”
How much did you know about Mughal miniatures before you started painting them, and what is it about them that appealed to you?
Since an early age, I have loved art, and been particularly passionate about Mughal heritage as a consequence of my trips to Pakistan. I remember the experience vividly when I first encountered the magical city of Lahore the home of my parents, at the age of 12. I went on adventures visiting Mughal monuments including Lahore Fort, Shalimar Gardens, and Wazir Khan Mosque as well as the streets of the old city. I fell in love with the city, its history, and its heritage. I felt a bond and a connection that I have never been able to let go of since. When I came back home to Manchester I continued to learn about Mughal arts, culture, and heritage. My grandmother’s and mother’s encouragement inspired me to continue, and that’s when I started developing my skills as a miniature artist.