Heating up the fashion stakes in Dubai, British Fashion designer Ahmad Yousaf, 25 years old, born and raised in London the capital of fashion has become renowned for designing finely detailed couture gowns featured twice a year at Dubai Fashion Week. He has recently had the opportunity to design for UAE’s royal princess Maryam Al Maktoum with no expectations of stopping just yet.
His latest project with L’nette Boutique owned by Dubai’s royal family focuses on the modern day Muslim women aspired by the cultural arts of eastern fashion forms blended into the fine attributes of feminine couture pieces defining detailed silhouettes.
M: When did your passion for fashion arise?
A: I have been passionate about fashion ever since I chose my own ensemble to wear at the age of six. I was hooked on colours shapes and fine detail. I gained an eye for detail and also learnt the importance of organisation at a very young age this made me reliable and competent which was a good attribute to take forward in both personal and work life.
M: Who have you been most inspired by through your designs?
A: Since my childhood I was fascinated about creating new stuff which drawn my interest into architecture my favourite architect is Zaha Hadid I was inspired by her style and her quality of capturing fine detail. I focused on exploring this particular aspect through fashion that soon became my signature drawing upon new shapes and the finer details of the female silhouette.
I have also drawn inspiration to the British legend that is Alexander McQueen his unique sense of art and fashion is a perfect combination in creating unique collections. I also find Christian Dior’s colour scheme through couture pieces particularly fresh and stimulating.
M: How do you feel about exploring modern couture pieces in Dubai?
A: Working in UAE is a great experience, as I explore pieces that have a strong emphasis on the Arabic culture. It’s all about glamour long dresses and full of embroidery that emphasise modern couture. I have never explored this type of work beforehand but learning from the best it was a great combination of shape and embroidery.
Individuals always want to wear the latest creations so being innovative through shapes and the female silhouette is of particular importance in the UAE. There are two seasons that very important for fashion designers in Dubai one in April and another in December where collections are featured on public and private fashion shows. Therefore designs need to be of a particularly high standard. I do design in between these dates for younger and older females exploring both traditional and new styles.
M: You often talk of the future, being avant-garde. What does innovation of western and eastern fashion forms mean to you?
A: My creations have always been innovative through the western and eastern culture. I explore the modern Muslim woman defining sharp shapes with delicate embroidery and patterns taking route from western influences including Alexander McQueen I focus on Dubai as a developing modern art form through my works. These two cultures in fashion are very strong when applied together as I am able to create gowns that have a strong concept of today’s innovation within fashion. I also design bridal gowns that are very similar with the west yet have a twist of the traditional eastern culture.
M: The cultural heritage and crafts of Dubai are very important to your creative process. How important is the Western perspective on Dubai?
A: The world’s view of Dubai is very important it’s what I call a modern fusion of mutable fashion of different cultures. I have designed for the royal princess drawing inspiration on the western culture Dubai is very good at celebrating that arts behind every culture which is why I believe it is so successful. Unfortunately, the centre of fashion and art is not Dubai, but nonetheless I find the opinion and point of view of Dubai very useful.
M: How long does it take you to design?
A: Well about designing something I can’t say how long it takes, sometimes I cannot design for whole day and sometimes ideas just do not stop coming that why I always carry a pencil and paper with me. It may sound very unusual but a few times I create designs in my dreams that I wake up and develop.
M: A lot of you designs explore modern day glamour what does that mean to you?
A: Glamour is about confidently showing your style, it means standing on your own feet and explore through the arts of culture it’s the way you present yourself through strong shapes and detailed quality designs.
Interview by Maryam Ali
Ever since she exploded onto the fashion blog scene Naballah Chi has made a name for herself as a fashion forward hijabi. The island girl from Trinidad and Tobago explores culture and heritage through modestly fashionable clothing, her aim to bring out ones individuality through the comfort of the hijab and fashion.
M: What makes you feel most comfortable with your hijab?
N: I’m honestly comfortable with my hijab no matter what I do. I think I’ve came to conquer being confident in hijab, no matter what the circumstances are, being around other confident Hijabi’s makes me feel right at home.
M: Why have you chosen fashion to express your style?
N: Fashion is something I was born into, so it comes natural. My parents both worked in fashion. My dad was a fashion designer and my mom is an avid fashion designer/seamstress. Being involved in fashion is being engulfed in my natural element…it brings me all kinds of happiness. Fashion has also inspired my life in so many ways, namely to take my natural creativeness far beyond what I think I am capable of achieving.
Style is thus born when I am able to be creative and personalize my pieces, through the conscious arrangement of colours, shapes and movements in an artistic manner, while wearing clothes that fit my lifestyle. My style is a reflection of my personality. It is only when I become creative, then can I become consequently stylish. So in a nutshell fashion enhances my creative ability in expressing who I am.
M: Who are you most inspired by?
N: There is no particular person who inspires me. My inspiration is my life as every aspect of my life has taught me how to rise beyond any circumstance, no matter how hard I fall.
M: How do you feel about the Hijab being expressed through the media?
N: I believe the increasing power of the media to define Islam and aspects of Islam, such as the hijab, causes tremendous negative associations with hijab. As a result, people view hijab as oppressive, because the media, which is supposed to be the peoples trusted source, falsely tells them that hijab is oppressive.
Also most people don’t take the time out to educate themselves on the concept of a woman dressing modestly and what Hijab means to Muslims. Hijab is contrary to images that we are bombarded with where women wear little clothing and expose their bodies in the name of freedom, therefore some people see hijab as taking away a woman’s freedom to choose what to wear, how to live etc. Hijab is meant to free us as individuals and reinforce honouring of the Muslim identity not hold us as prisoners to ideal beauty standards and scrutiny.
M: Why do you choose to explore the hijab?
N: As a hijab stylist, hijab is now a social enterprise that introduces me to business savvy entrepreneurship and stylish flair; essential skills for any modern Muslim female pioneer. Muslim women, young and old are always looking out for new ways to incorporate fashion into the way they wear their Hijabs and so Muslim fashion enthusiasts and professionals like myself have found innovative ways to blend both modesty and style, without having to sacrifice the basic elements of what constitutes Islamic dress or the basic elements of fashion.
Being a trendy hijab stylist is how I explore hijab in today’s society. Fashionable hijab has spread vigorously throughout the Islamic world and in some cases in the non-Islamic, as non-Muslims can occasionally be spotted donning headscarves and Islamic-inspired wear for modest fashion. I’m not a gatekeeper between my hijab styles and the general public, because I know my work is surely a way to inspire other women to share their talents and to empower themselves through a positive turn on self-esteem.
M: Why is there a rise of hijab fashion with modern society?
N: The rise of Hijab fashion redefines what it means to be a modern Muslim woman and now I can enthusiastically flex my marketing muscle in the world of fashion- something that didn’t exist a couple of years back. Having an online hijab store, or even a brick & mortar store, with an array of designs shows that Hijab fashion is empowering Muslim women economically.
I think that Hijab in today’s society has done enough to empower Muslim women and change attitudes towards Muslims in general. In today’s global competitive market, hijab fashion is evolving and one of the utmost advantages of fashion is the development of one’s individuality. When you become confident you can do bold things in the society you live in and as a result you experience inner happiness.
Find out more about Nabballah Chi fashion through her blog
This month Salaam style explores the Egyptian gypsy through the fashionable art of a coined scarf and dark statement lipstick that makes the look colder then ever.
we love how this heritage look of a gypsy can be evolved into a fashion statement through the creating layering the hijab followed by a long length mango maxi dress with finely detailed print which adds towards the edginess of a fashionable gypsy aesthetic.
Searching for reasonably priced hijab’s can be a nightmare nowadays? At Salaam Style HQ, I came across Afifah a family run business with a retail store in Luton that has been running successfully for almost two years.
Their aim is to provide customers with modest and stylish clothing, hijabs and fashion accessories for everyday wear and special occasions.
They specialise in exclusive handmade hijabs and offer garments with unique designs without compromising on Islamic values. They aim to accommodate to the Muslim clothing trends of the west.
Sales Associate, Noreen Mohamed, said “At Afifah we focus on selling good quality products at affordable prices”
I chose a few of their fabulous hijabs that can revamp any look through the range of textures and colours they explore. Which one is your favourite? The scarfs pictured above can be accessed through http://www.afifah-hijabs.co.uk/index.asp.
As the party/ wedding season is rapidly approaching why not invest in the ultimate diamond encrusted middle eastern inspired kaftan’s by the fabulous vibrant designer Aaara.
Aaara balances a variety of colours around fabulous draped, pleated designs that create a beautiful middle eastern princess like look. These kaftan’s are great to wear just partner them up with a clutch and heels and there you have it a fabulously trendy Arabian night look.