Mr. Haque on dressing drag queens, his alter ego, and what’s next for his burgeoning brand.
Whether he was ditching high school dance rehearsals to help out the costume department or convincing his kindergarten class to put on a fashion show, it’s clear that Farhan Haque was always destined to work in fashion. But it wasn’t until the end of high school that he committed to a career in fashion design.
“It was always a matter of theatre production or fashion,” says Haque of his early career aspirations. “I think I [didn’t realize] the fact that I like to make theatrical clothes doesn’t necessarily mean [they’d have to be for a] character. Instead, I could create life costumes.”
And that’s exactly what he’s done.
Today, the 2021 graduate of Toronto Film School’s fashion design program is the creative director of his self-made brand, Mr. Haque, which is named after his outgoing, confident and eccentric alter-ego. The expressive persona of “Mr. Haque” translates into his custom creations too, which is apparent through the unique, structural designs that stars like Priyanka, Mia Martina and former FASHION cover star Jordan Alexander have worn.
With just two official collections under his belt, the 23-year-old Toronto designer has already amassed a dedicated following within the city’s fashion scene — most recently dressing Veruschka for FASHION’s 2023 Cake Mix party — and he’s only getting started.
FASHION spoke to Haque about where he draws inspiration, designing for drag queens and how he sees his brand developing.
Was there a defining moment that helped you decide to commit to fashion design?
“At the very last minute in high school, four of my friends didn’t have prom gowns. And I’d never made a gown like that — I had made costumes, but not a gown. So I made the first gown literally overnight, out of excitement. Then I did the second one on the second night and within four days, these four gowns were all ready for prom. That’s when I was like, ‘Oh OK, fashion is the way.’
@itsmrhaque 🖤 #fashion #fashiondesigner #runwayvsreallife #runway #model #wakandaforever #wakandaforeverpremiere #gossipgirl ♬ original sound – B
Where do you find inspiration?
“For someone in the public eye, usually their stylist comes to me with a mood board and that’s when I’ll sketch out an idea so we can visualize it together. If it’s my personal pieces, a lot of inspiration comes from music. I’ll listen to music and imagine the designs walking down the runway or how they would look dancing. Both of the finale looks at each of my last shows have been set to dramatic soundtracks and both designs came from the movement of that music.”
How does that musical influence translate to the designs themselves?
“You’ll see a lot of draping because it works well for movement. But, I also love tight, tight, tight corsets. I always like to play with the opposing sides, like one dress will be super flowy and then the one that comes right after is super structured. It depends on the kind of song I was listening to at the moment.”
You’ve done a lot of work with drag queens. How is designing for a queen different from your other work?
“There’s the aspect of trying to feminize the body. So, for example, I’ll have to ask them questions like, ‘Will you have butt pads on? Will you be wearing a bra?’ because that’s something to consider when taking the measurements. It’s such a unique art form.”
Do you remember the first time you designed a look for a drag queen?
“I had a queen in my first show, actually. I would have had even more but at the time, I just knew one. Now, thankfully, I’ve been introduced to so many more queens. I didn’t come out until I was 18. So as I progress, and become more open in my queerness and become more accepting of things, like I can paint my nails and I can beat my face everyday, I’m slowly opening up more to that world.”
Who is Mr. Haque and how is he different from Farhan?
“In my regular life, I’m not as bold as I am when I have the makeup on and the outfit on and the heels on — once those are on, I’m a whole different person. That’s when I’ll say the things I want to say. When I’m just regular Farhan, I can’t walk up to someone and say hi. But when I’ve got Mr. Haque on, he’ll go up to any person on the street and just say, ‘What’s good? What’s up? Let’s be friends.’ I definitely have to bring forward that persona when I’m mingling with fashion people, because that’s a whole skill in itself.”
How would you describe Mr. Haque and your brand in three words?
“Theatre. Glamour. Movement.”
@itsmrhaque Only just the beginning. 🥂 #aspiringdesigner #fashiondesigner #torontobased #fashion #fyp ♬ original sound – Ij Arias
What’s next for you?
“I love making costumes and I’ve always done that, but I want to have a website with ready-to-wear so anyone can shop my brand. I’m also in the process of working on my third collection and the show for that will hopefully be happening sometime in the fall. I can’t give too much away but the entire show is basically a dance number and we’re infusing clothes into it. I’m throwing a lot at it in hope that the risks [will pay off] and people will see that, ‘Oh yeah, he can do it.’”