By Sophia Serrano
With the temperatures rising and a hip vibe in the air, we welcomed the Prêt-à-Cover™ Buyers Lane, modest fashion and design event to the chic plaza of City Walk, Dubai, run by the luxury developers Meraas. Taking place from the 28th of March, to the 2nd of April, the show was the first of its kind, doing away with the obligatory cat walks, and gathering global fashion houses together to mark the start of a modest revolution. The venue was filled with fascinating designers and their unique pieces.
City Walk’s lanes were lined with permanent exhibits for all 5 days of the event, including a futuristic 360-degree technological projection fashion show each night. The event exposed attendees to over 30 brands from 13 different countries and allowed them a unique opportunity to interact personally with the designers. We talked to some of the talented artists to get an inside on their designs and the stories behind them.
Talabaya was born on the need to find the right identity for Lucy, the designer’s cousin, who moved to Saudi Arabia and needed a modest wardrobe to honour the new culture, but at the same time needed to somehow preserve her European background. As a result, the founder Mirka Talavaskova, came out with this very elegant marriage between European and Middle Eastern culture. The designs are simple yet full of personality. Talabaya is based in the Czech Republic and has come to debut their first collection at the Prêt-à-Cover™ Buyers Lane. If you have a similar need as Lucy, or simply a passion for Middle East inspired fashion, check out their designs for an eclectic mix of elegance.
“My philosophy is to make simple elegant clothes and mix with it with interesting accessories” Mirka Talavaskova.
This brand is all about luxurious but affordable furniture and was started 5 years ago by Faiza Haider and Tasmeer Kamal. Each had their own line of furniture and more than 10 years of experience in the craft. Faiza Haider tells us how all of the hard work is equivalent to satisfaction as long as her clients are happy. Faiza joyfully remembers how one client called her living room “your room” (referring to Burgundy) and how much she enjoyed every piece. Before turning to design, Faiza was working in banking. She started designing for herself and steadily people would ask her for advisory, making the transition very natural.
“We love creating looks and styles for our clients and seeing their happy faces.
Diana Rikasari started as a fashion blogger just for the fun of it. She is a qualified industrial engineer and before filling the world with her colourful pieces, she was working as a marketing analyst. Her very first break through was when she was featured in a local magazine in her home country, Indonesia. Then it took some smart moves in social media and contacting the right people, which opened many doors, until she created her first shoe collection. With the success of this venture she was able to launch an entire Schmiley-Mo collection. She has been invited to different Fashion Weeks including Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, London, and now Dubai. She pays attention to details because she thinks happiness is in the small things, like wearing a cute boat cartoon on your chest.
“My clothes are casual wear with fun elements which are easy to mix and match and layering around. Just have fun while dressing”.
More to See
Founder and lead designer of More to See, Jessica is originally from Bali, Indonesia. She came to Dubai with the company of her lovely family to present her brand “More to See”. Jessica’s aunt told us how Jessica was drawing since the young age of 9 years old. She was definitely born with this talent. Growing up in Bali, Jessica was very inspired by her culture as there were many artistic elements, such as the dances and paintings, which really triggered in her a passion for art. The idea behind her line is to bring innovation while preserving the traditions of her culture. Her pieces use the traditional fabrics from Bali with modern twists. She has been invited to present her creations to many of the capitals in the world including Jakarta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Santorini, New York and Moscow.
“My aim is to represent our country and its traditional fabrics to the world with a dynamic style and sophistication… and, modestly, of course!”
Al Nisa Designs
This brand is represented by a sisterhood of charismatic, strong women. The entourage came all the way from the United States, where each lady represents the brand in a different part of the country. The founder and main designer Carmen Muhammed, told us what it was like being the first Muslim in her community in Los Angeles at the early age of 14 years old, “I became somewhat of an outcast, because I was the only person my age attending school fully covered… playing sports fully covered”. She continues to explain how Islam was still very unknown in the West in the early 70s, and there was no offer of beautiful, modest clothes. Experiencing a lot of peer pressure at that young age, Carmen became inspired to want to do things that were fashionably attractive for young women. This determination grew over the years until Al Nisa Designs was officially launched in the 90s. Her designs are full of details with a vibrant use of colour and refinement.
The South African designer, Aneeqah Stellenboom, found her way into fashion steadily but actively. She studied marketing and was doing a corporate job but didn’t quite find her voice in such environment. She would draw and practiced anything art related in her free time. One day she took all her savings and ventured to pursue a career in the fashion industry, learning everything and anything related to fashion and business.
Her first move was as a makeup artist. Once in the medium, she worked in photo shoots and editorials with model agencies in Cape Town. She collaborated on the styling for photoshoots, allowing her to learn and gather experience. Soon she started to produce more and more garments. These days she is able to design full collections and explore with many types of items.
“My style is very classic and romantic. I love anything luxurious but simplistic as well… very feminine, that’s more my style”.
Laura Federici was born in an artistic milieu. Everyone in her family was involved in design, which rendered her to follow a career in an artistic endeavour at University. She went on to design for the recognized Italian brand, Fendi. Having gained this experience, it let her discover her love for bags. The next step was to open her own business, Laura Fed. Her brand is a combination of interior design and fashion that brings a fusion of techniques and materials. She takes elements from the interior design world and enhances them with embroidery and accessories. She is presenting an innovative use of wood for clutches and also a classy line of leather bags.
“Designs meets fashion” Laura Federici.
Zoq Art & Design
Chandi N. Haq is the designer behing Zoq. She explains that the word Zoq means, ‘refined taste’ in Urdu, and looking at her pieces, we can totally agree with the name. She tells us how she started designing 24 years ago when living in New York. Chandi is an economist by education but interior design always intrigued her. While studying in Pakistan she was able to work in fashion design but somehow didn’t follow it at that time. Eventually, Chandi took some design classes and confirmed that it was her passion. Her enjoyment in this field led her to a successful career in interior design, founding her own studio in the United States.
The most challenging part of her career is to face the limits of structural boundaries. For example, when wanting to remove a wall you have to make sure there are no important elements behind it. Chandi explains how these obstacles have become smaller with the passing of the years.
“Education and experience are the key to success”.
Zaw Fashion is a sub-branch of Wahdan Garments. This new brand has a solid fashion patrimony behind it. The three Egyptian brothers Nesma, Mahmoud and Mohamed Wahdan come from a long line of designers. Their grandfather, Mahmoud, started Wahdan Garments with a small store back in the 60s, which focused on men’s suits. The family kept the business going with their father, finally taking over and expanding the company throughout Egypt. The company now has 11 branches and the trio is taking their own stand and crossing over to modest women’s apparel. The timeless elegance of their pieces really reveals such legacy in their roots.
“We empower women in fashionable clothes and we make it to fit every women’s needs” Nesma Wahdan.
If you are more into sports, then definitely you will find some jewels in Nasrin Ijaz’s collection. Originally from Pakistan, Nasrin was raised in the cosmopolitan city of London. Being a designer was intrinsically in her blood, from a young age. However, she didn’t follow this passion right away. After raising four children, she finally dedicated her time to Academia and at age 40 she went back to school, completing a Bachelor’s degree in design and taking it further with a Master’s degree in fashion design at the London College of Fashion. With her as an example, we can confidently say, it is never too late to fulfil your passion!
Nasrin chose to focus on sportswear design because she was unable to find the right modest clothes, being herself, much into sports. Plus, she saw how other women needed these clothes for many reasons. From covering a scar to health reasons, to feeling more confident in a sports outfit. Additionally, Nasrin also implements sustainability in her designs. The high quality and the recycled fabrics sums to the versatility of her products. You can use her items for any fitness activity including swimming, running, weight lifting and pretty much any sport.
“You get four outfits in one, so you don’t need different outfits. That in itself is a sustainable practice”.
All the way from one of the fashion capitals of the world, comes Fringadine, with its Parisian touch. The two owners Malika Maza and Helene Agesilas started their brand 3 years ago. This venture into the business of fashion started out of a need. As a teacher, Malika couldn’t find a style that was both classical and elegant without compromising her values. She realized that the Muslim French community also needed a chic and refined brand with the French style. Malika finally took the stand and dedicated herself to designing, discovering a new passion in it. For Fringadine the magic comes in the little details, and Malika confirms the vision of the brand is in-line with Coco Chanel’s slogan “less is more”.
The support of her family was a key factor for Malika to continue her venture and the eventual materialization of Fringadine.
“It is the details, we wanted the little things to make the difference” Malika Maza.