Dima Ayad is a young Lebanese fashion designer who established her fashion brand in 2010. The designer is now based in Dubai and her clothes have been featured in local and international press such as ELLE Arabia, Grazia Middle East, OK!, Hello and Ahlan magazine.
Her Autumn Winter 2011 collection was shown off-schedule at London Fashion Week, which lead to her nomination as Best Regional Designer at the Grazia Middle East Style Awards 2011, designing a capsule (low-priced) prom collection for Saks Fifth Avenue and a Ramadan abaya collection for Harvey Nichols Dubai.
Who is Dima Ayad?
I’m a dreamer, passionate, love life, constantly laughing, have random ideas, very spontaneous, no two days are the same, embraces challenges.
What was it about fashion design that first attracted you to this medium?
I couldn’t find clothes that suited me so opted to create my own. Then grew the knowledge of the female figure and how to enhance its appearance in clothes, no matter what shape or size.
Describe your first piece of serious fashion that you designed and constructed. What did you think about it when you first made it? What do you think about it now?
I love this question. I designed a line for Greek goddesses, very flowy, matt gold, some ivory, a hint of royal blue. Honestly, I still love it, but looking back I would’ve constructed it differently and used a few different fabrics.
How do you balance between your day job as a marketing director and your own fashion-designing job?
They both support each other. One side is more strategic and the other is mostly creative, which gives me a great balance.
Marketing is at the core of what we do. If you know your customer, you can do anything. I learn so much about the women who wear my dresses everyday by the alterations they make, or what sells the fastest, and the age bracket of women wearing the line. The marketing know-how is key!
Why did you choose to start your fashion career in Dubai?
Dubai is home, and I wanted to start making it at home. My test feeder market is Dubai.
How do you intend your client to feel when wearing your designs?
I’m euphoric, delirious; the feeling of falling in love comes close.
What inspires you when designing a new line?
Inspiration really comes from everywhere and I love how it does. It could be a dry spell for weeks and then one sleepless night – boom. Or I spot a fabric I’m in love with. I just buy it and play with it on the mannequin and then the juices flow.
How many collections have you done by now?
I’m on my sixth!
Tell us a little about each collection? And how do you name them?
The first one was very literal – today’s interpretation of a Greek goddess. My adoration for one shoulder was very evident. My autumn/winter collection was about rebelliousness – very metallic and quite daring. My Vivian jacket caused a stir.
For the capsule prom collection for Saks Fifth Avenue, my theme was nostalgia. I thought of when my mother’s closet had only a few tempting pieces when I turned 16. That made me remember how much I wanted to grow older. I was 16 going on 21, and so were those teens that loved my prom dresses!
I designed kaftans for Harvey Nichols Dubai, in anything but black with a twist of a print or one color throughout.
The spring/summer collection 2012 is about butterflies, and everything about them. Having butterflies, feeling like floating, and their stunning symmetry.
How would you describe your style of fashion and your designs?
Simple, with a twist. Effortless. Let the piece speak for itself.
How far in advance do you work on your collections and what is the process?
Usually is work three to four months in advance and sometimes even shorter. It’s either the idea first or the fabric, or both. I start off with 50 sketches, 50 patterns, 50 dresses and then shrink to 25-30, which I then shrink to 25.
Color variations start to form and then we shoot the collection. Buyer meetings are followed by orders and I need around two months for production.
Do you think having great sewing skills is important in fashion design? What other skills would you need?
I think it’s important to understand how you want the piece perfected and if it isn’t working and you still love it, to explain how to make it the way you want it. So yes, some know-how is key.
Mostly, follow your gut. If you drew it and it evidently doesn’t appeal to you, delete it. After you work on a collection for so long you can’t see it anymore!
What are you working on now?
For my spring/summer 2013 collection lollipops come to mind.
Tell us about your experience in London fashion week.
Unforgettable, a true out-of-body experience as if I was watching a movie of things happening around me.
Nerves, nerves, nerves, ensuring models getting ready on time, it’s cold and raining and last minute things that need perfection, and walking down that catwalk… couldn’t feel my legs, but that roar of applause – I can still hear it.
What materials and fabrics do you like to use in your designs?
This list continues to grow, but my favorites are silk jersey, tulle, crepe de chine, grosgrain and I’m in love with pleating!
What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses in the art of fashion?
Strengths: understanding the female figure and ensuring the collection suits every shape and size.
Weakness: not having that many collections under my belt, and not being exposed to any fashion mentors to date that can help pave the way of enhancements. Long live books and magazines and online interviews.
Do you try to send out a message or theme in your design? If so, what is it?
I always say that design comes from within, but the main message really is please wear what suits you. Not everyone looks good in everything, and that’s ok.
What makes your designs special?
That they speak for themselves somehow. You know it’s a Dima Ayad, and it makes you feel amazing.
Ayad is looking forward to expanding on the global market and hopes to include a line of bathing suits in her collection.
Dima Ayad’s spring-summer 2012 is stocked in S*uce boutique in Dubai and is available to order by e-mailing [email protected]