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Classical enigma
by Manjula Ramakrishnan December 07, 2018
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 It was a 15-piece wild and sensational feline-inspired Spring/Summer 2019 collection that in November rocked the show titled Nocturnal Animals held at City Walk, Dubai. And the Dubai-based designer and fashion label ASMARAÏA, founded in 2018, is out to enthral a new generation of Arab women.

Founder and Creative Director of the brand, ASMARAÏA has been tagged as Middle East’s mysterious fashion designer for her enigmatic, eccentric and quirky interpretation on classic Middle Eastern fashion.

The designer speaks about her designs as well as her fierce passion for her nation.

Your first collection in May 2018 was a patriotic one.
This was in Dubai during the Arab Fashion Week held at Queen Elizabeth 2 and it was titled #mydubai. The brand created a phenomenal success among customers from the region with its combination of admiration and respect for tradition with modern, luxurious fabrics.

So what inspired the UNITY dress that you created for the event?
The limited edition dress named “UNITY” was inspired by the vision of UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose centennial birth year coincides with the 47th anniversary of the UAE’s union. It was in reverence to the vision of a leader with extraordinary dreams and limitless love which laid the foundation for the thriving country we now live in. Driven by his commitment to the land, love of his people, passion for culture, and deep faith in his religion, he was a generous and selfless man focused on creating a wonderful future for those who he considered his children — which are the UAE’s citizens.

What did UNITY unite in the process of its creation?
The dress was a result of my desire to bridge fashion and culture together. I used golden white as it symbolises purity, innocence, equality and new beginnings. I have incorporated the traditional Arabic cut-dress and placed touches of western influence on the stitches and durability. This is my modern take to empower women in their day-to-day lives. The ‘UNITY’ dress is also an art piece that I want to give to the UAE, my home. It has always encouraged talents like me, giving us an opportunity to go global.

What is the larger message behind your collection?
The message is to introduce a fashion trend that does not need to harm animals or cause any irreparable damage to the environment. I have used animal prints as a symbol of my love for animals, particularly to the felines. I believe that felines have independent character; they are open to new experiences, very agreeable, which is in tandem to my idea of bringing a new collection for women who embrace all these qualities.

We work with more environmentally-friendly materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and faux fur as well as supporting fair trade in its supply chain to show our support to the fashion industry’s campaign to be cruelty-free and promote sustainable fashion.

What is the signature style for this season from you?
I have used a variety of colourful leopard printed suits, shimmering turtle neck blouses, checkered fabrics, faux fur, and animal skin printed robes and athleisure-inspired pyjamas.

Designs for Arab women would have factored in the cultural sensitivities of the region…
The brand is positioned to bring traditional Middle Eastern values, culture and tradition applicable to the modern world that we are currently living in. I have adjusted the use of fabrics, designs, cuts and durability on how a modern Arab woman is living their lives. I want my pieces to be part of their lifestyle, something wearable, not just a one-off, show-off dresses.

The ASMARAÏA brand philosophy is an interpretation of traditional and opulent clothing of the East; keeping it respectful, abiding all norms, that allows women to maintain harmony and peace, the confidence that not one of her movements will bring discomfort, will not expose her body, will not mark too clearly her outline, but on the contrary will keep it in fabulous silhouette and safety.

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