Fashion Trust Arabia 2022 announced its Debut Talent finalists, Kazna Asker from Yemen, Claudia Khachan from Lebanon, Rayana Boulila from Algeria and Mohammed El Marnissi from Morocco, who are up for the prestigious award in their category. These qualifying designers were plucked from a long list of talented candidates who all submitted their best collections to a panel of judges who recognised their effort, innovation and design principles. The winner for Fashion Trust Arabia’s Debut Talent category will be announced in Doha, Qatar this autumn and will receive international recognition as well as over Dhs 90,000 to grow their business. Ahead of this announcement, three of the Fashion Trust Arabia 2022 Debut Talent finalists share the inspiration behind the collections submitted for their applications in an exclusive interview with Grazia.
“My MA collection was called ‘Watered by one Water,’ meaning we are all equal as we all drink the same water focusing on the importance of community and providing a voice for the voiceless. The collection combines my British upbringing with my Yemeni heritage, merging technical sportswear fabrics with traditional woven Middle Eastern scarves and fabrics. In order to show the togetherness behind the community, I purposefully designed in pairs, creating matching menswear and womenswear looks as well as a range of corresponding tracksuits and outerwear with Islamic abayas and thobes.
The garments featured graphic-designed posters that asked the questions: What does community mean to you? What are you fighting for? And Who inspired you today? I designed the posters and asked my local community in Sheffield, UK, to fill them out, later printing their answers on the back of the garments. I created a short film documenting the process and a book of their answers–showcasing the true voices of the community in places where they are not fully represented.
Being the first hijabi collection to showcase at Central Saint Martin’s MA fashion show, I used models directly from my community to present my collection at London Fashion Week. The models are British minorities that come from different backgrounds, and who challenge the stereotypes associated with the Muslim community by representing their identity with pride and showcasing that we are actually cool people. Considering Yemen is currently facing the world’s humanitarian crisis and my family’s journey as immigrants, I used my MA collection to provide a message and set the foundations of a community that I will continue to build on as the brand develops.”
“As a shy teenager, I had one goal, reinventing myself and deconstructing the codes, which was hard to do at the time. Fashion was and still is my way to go. ‘Homemade Dynamite,’ my collection, is mainly a homage to teenage hood, this period of time where we’re constantly researching who we are and questioning what we like and dislike. For me, it was creating visual characters that resemble what I was feeling and experiencing at the time. Music and films inspired me a lot throughout my process, so I combined music, film and fashion in a short film, Homemade Dynamite the film, in which I collaborated with filmmakers, artists and musicians based in Beirut.”
Mohammed El Marnissi
“My collection is inspired by a Middle East love myth, in which two people fall in love, from tribes that were in a violent conflict. Even though it was almost impossible for them to maintain their relationship, they were able to meet at the top of the mountain. By creating a labyrinth, their tribes were not able to follow them or find them. On a certain day, one of the two is killed in a violent attack, to which the loved one responded by combining the two tribes, creating harmony and a loving and peaceful community. This beautiful story, combined with the ’70s, in which love was a most important matter, defines my collection.”
“I’ve always been fascinated by the curves of every body and every woman; that is my anchor point. What has also interested me is the garment as a sartorial performance, through graphic reflection and through the cut. I was also inspired by my family history in Algeria, fascinated by Algerian costumes and their draperies. Along with this, I have analysed digital platforms such as Instagram and the way it promotes new kinds of beauty due to its algorithms. While researching this, I was able to discover several universes of beauty that were always linked by the same system of photogenic poses and filters that contours and shapes people’s bodies more. All these images produce an illusion of the perfection of the body.
I had wondered, thinking to myself, could this illusion be real? Could all these feminine tricks that the female form is capable of also become a sublimating object? I aimed to make these artifices graphic and visible in a self-care collection. Some of my garment cuts also transcribe this kind of pose by integrating hip prostheses and breasts, but I also wanted to combine business with pleasure and offer a form of cosmetic clothing. What we wear also allows us to regenerate our skin, by 4-way stretch UV UPF 50 + Anti-abrasion fabric Shaping Breathable/lightweight Hydrophilic and many others.”