Meet The Designers: Season 2
Welcome back to Season 2 – where we continue to sell and promote 16 new and returning up and coming luxury fashion designers from the MENA region. In an effort to get to know them all, we asked them what they learned about 2020 and what they are looking forward to in the future post COVID-19.
With the abruptions caused by the pandemic and Beirut explosion last year, designers were heavily affected in their day-to-day work. Some temporarily shut down their ateliers or relocated entirely, such as Ready to Wear Unisex label, Je Deux Main’s (JDM) Founder Salim Cherfane, who moved to Cairo from Beirut. Therefore a handful of the artists explained how 2020 showed them just how resilient they really were: “The year 2020 was tough, but it made me realize that I’m capable of doing things I thought I wasn’t capable of. I leaned on art and designs to get through difficult times,” said Leila of Cairo-based handbag brand, Aliel. Zaid Farouki of Ready To Wear brand in Dubai, Zaid by Zaid Farouki, exclaimed he’s happy that despite the challenges, “we’re still here.”
Going with the flow is another key theme our designers were forced to embrace. Fashion designers tend to be very structured in their work; they have to bring to life their entire vision for the brand via tangible elements such as their sketches, garments, materials and branding; as well as manage suppliers, tailors, customer service, marketing and more. By not being able to control their surroundings, the artists learned how to be more fluid and take whatever comes day by day.
Taking things for granted was no longer a choice either. Lebanese Ready to Wear Founder, Jessica Khawaja of Blue for Burgundy said she learned most of all to “appreciate what we have taken for granted.” Co-founders Caroline and Joy of Lebanese women’s fashion brand Pearl and Rubies expressed “2020 was a tough year for all, but specially for us here in Lebanon. We learned to admire and appreciate the little things we used to take for granted and above all we learned to have patience.”
Newly-launched handbag designer in Cairo, REDU, echoed that she learned how to stay positive during challenging times: “Whether it is work, relationships, or anything that affects us personally, we must put in the extra effort and go the extra mile to ensure that we are not negatively impacted by the world surrounding us. We have also learned to see the glass half full as opposed to half-empty as when you maintain a negative mindset, you attract negativity. Remaining positive propels us in the right direction in all aspects of our lives.” Folklore Founder in Kuwait, Haya Al Abdulkareem, said the learned “we should be content, satisfied and happy with whatever we have,” which she admitted is much harder said than done.
The future however holds hope and excitement for every designer we spoke to. Carolina Chammas of women’s Accessories brand in Beirut, Aura Headpieces, happily claimed “I look forward to creating, creating, creating… and never stopping! I am blessed and fortunate to be living a life that is limitless and open to creativity,” while designer Farah Abdelhamid of FforFarah Accessories in Egypt is looking forward to continuing collaborations and conceptual exhibitions that answer the question of “why jewelry exists.” Last but not least, “in the future if there is one thing I would love to bring back to Beirut is the colors,” said Salim Cherfane and by colors- we mean life.
Follow us on Instagram to watch the rest of our talent express their views.