Breaking out and breaking the rules
Jody Miller uncovers the MENA designers that need to be on your fashion radar
Runways and red carpets are no strangers to fashion designers from the Arabic-speaking world. Zuhair Murad and Elie Saab, among others, are A-lister staples coveted for a trade-mark glamour embracing a time-honoured sartorial portrait of the feminine ideal.
But things are percolating in the Middle East, and it’s not just the thermometer. The region is on fire with creativity and resourcefulness. Beneath the veil of tradition is an explosion of imagination that is bubbling to the surface and making fashion waves across the globe. From Dubai to Cairo, the region is brimming with design houses that are doing everything but playing it safe. This energy and enthusiasm are reflected in some of the most forward-thinking fashion on the market today.
Shaikha Noor Al Khalifa and Shaikha Haya Al Khalifa are shaking up the fashion world in a big way. Born in Bahrain into a family of artistic luminaries, the cousins and childhood friends joined forces after studying fashion design to establish a brand that reflected their youthful and multicultural perspective.
Contemporary and streamlined with uncanny twists of complexity that comprise impeccable tailoring and laser-sharp precision. Pleats, bias cuts, and gentle draping evince their fashion and art school legacy. Noon by Noor has been the recipient of accolades from the fashion world since its first showing at New York Fashion Week in 2012. The inimitable blend of minimalist luxury and striking silhouettes is frequently spotted on socialites and celebs and has garnered international praise.
Intricately embroidered and irresistibly flirty. Boho-chic that conjures visions of Coachella caravans and fetching coquettes in a tropical paradise of glorious colour and carefree romance.
Founded by Ayah Tabari, All Things Mochi is more than a posh hippie label. Inspired by the world’s rich landscapes and textiles, Mochi empowers women across the globe by employing their artisanal abilities to source jobs, opportunities, education, and hope for the future. The result is an enticing collection of clothing and accessories that endows the wearer with beauty and the promise of a better life for women everywhere.
If Yasmina Q was only about the gossamer floral dresses and separates that gracefully drape the body, that would be enough. If it were only about the unexpected plunging necklines, peek-a-boo keyholes, and flouncy flourishes, that would be enough to capture fashionista hearts. But for Yasmina Qanzal, that is not enough.
A native of Jeddah and based in London, Yasmina Q takes a comprehensive approach to fashion from initial design to production to packing and shipping. Conceived as a circulatory and sustainable company that includes supporting local workers with fair wages and an empowering workplace, they use only sustainably sourced and consciously developed fabrics. This includes FSC-certified EcoVero viscose, recycled and deadstock materials made in small batches to ease waste, plus tags, labels, and even mailers made from recycled materials.
The Alexandria-born and bred designer first rose to prominence with her upstart label Spicy—Egypt’s first 100 percent locally sourced and produced clothing brand. Several greater Cairo boutiques later, Shaker’s vision and drive propelled her to launch her namesake brand which soon became available throughout Egypt and Europe.
A fine artist by trade, Shaker challenges rigidity and fashion dogma. Merging deconstructed classics and an evocative street sensibility, the woman who wears Dina Shaker possesses an intrepid power and transcendence. Global in spirit and grounded by nature, she is a tour de force of avant-garde MENA fashion.
Sisters Aya and Mounaz Abdelraouf are the creative duet behind the opulent Egyptian accessory collection. Sensing the need for a true luxury brand in Egypt, the sisters forged their talents to invent something that could not exist elsewhere—a homegrown company whose ethos of upscale fine artistry would meet philanthropy. Drawing from tradition yet pushing its boundaries, each Okhtein item is an object of substantive and remarkable beauty.