Beauty and the Bisht: Hana Samman celebrates tradition with her designs

Updated 07 November 2012
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Beauty and the Bisht: Hana Samman celebrates tradition with her designs

Saudi designer Hana Samman started her designing career in an early age when she couldn’t find anyone who would design a navy blue abaya for her. She decided to design her own just to have the liberty to wear what suited her and looked good on her.
Her fashion sense drove her to design her own abayas before people around her asked her to design theirs as well. Thirteen years later, Samman now is one of the famous and well-known names in the fashion industry in the Kingdom. She leads a very stylish life and travels from one country to another to find inspiration and buy her exclusive and luxurious materials.
“No one can imagine how much I love the Saudi abaya. I believe they are a very decent coverage to Muslims and I love the fact that I can play with designs and make them stylish, decent and well covered at the same time,” said Samman. “Women who wear hijab do not have to look dull and wear an all-black cloak. They can have a good mixture of color and still look decent and covered up in a stylish abaya,” she added.
The designer started her brand as a hobby. “I only went to school to study fashion design after I established the brand and after I got familiar with the fashion design scene in the Kingdom,” said Samman. “I wanted to learn the possibilities and impossibilities in making clothing. I have a team of tailors that helps me make the abayas. I do all the designing and purchase the materials and fabrics they use,” she added.
“I studied at Burgo — an Italian fashion institute — for two years, and I learned so much about stitching and designing. I must say it was a good advantage for my brand,” said Samman.
Samman designs are known to be unique for she uses different kinds of fabric in one design. “I usually include two to three different materials in one abaya. I like using silk, lace, crepe, cotton and velvet,” she said. “My recent abaya collection contains gold and silver threads with a rich fabric,” she added.
Samman’s recent collection is based on Saudi traditional clothing but adds a modern twist. “I chose the collection to be like the traditional bisht, a well-known cloak made for men and I added small changes to it and made it fit for women,” she said. “I made sure that the abayas are made in a traditional way with a twist of femininity,” she added.
Samman designs two collections a year. So far she released 26 collections in the Gulf market. “I make abayas for different occasions and seasons and I just released my summer collection which are all cold cottons with light stitching and there is the weddings and night celebrations collection,” she said.
“My designs are very smart and there is something for everyone. I always make sure to make different designs so I can satisfy all my costumers,” she added.

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TheFace: Dr. Lama S. Taher, the successful fashion designer whose one dream was not enough

Dr. Lama S. Taher (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 20 April 2018
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TheFace: Dr. Lama S. Taher, the successful fashion designer whose one dream was not enough

  • Lacking in financial assistance but armed with grit, perseverance and passion, a young Saudi woman fashion designer launches her own brand while pursuing further studies, and succeed in both

I was born and raised in Riyadh and moved to London in 2004 to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree, followed by a Master’s degree in Mental Health.

Eight years ago, when I started on my Ph.D. in Psychology, I felt compelled to go into fashion design. Armed with grit, perseverance and passion, I took the plunge and launched my own brand, LUM, in May 2010.

I had no financial assistance and no fancy business plans — but I believed in it. No one else did, except my older sister who stood by me.

In spite of its humble beginning, the brand was well-received in the Kingdom and the Gulf region. But my father, a physician, was not convinced. I placed a bet with him, vowing to make substantial sales and revenue within one month. On July 1, 2013, I won that bet, making him my number one supporter.  In 2016, I achieved my academic dream, obtaining a Ph.D. in psychology at City University London.  

But it was not easy. Enduring sleepless nights and homesickness, I persevered to meet high academic demands. Meanwhile, the LUM business continued to flourish.

People asked why a successful fashion designer would pursue a doctorate in psychology. I was constantly asked to pick one — but my heart was in one and my mind was in another. 

Few believed I could achieve both. At times, I too doubted myself.

Today, I am an assistant professor at Dar Al Hekma University in Jeddah, supervising award-winning researchers. I am also a Saudi designer and manager of a successful fashion brand sold in the GCC, New York and Los Angeles.  I share my story to empower women to pursue their dreams, to believe in themselves, to fight for what they want.

People still ask: “Why both?” 

I reply, smiling: “Because one dream was not enough.”