Find out why designer Nasiba Hafiz is taking Saudi fashion to new heights

Nasiba Hafiz is a Saudi designer with a difference. (Photograph by: Iman Al-Dabbagh)
Updated 20 December 2017

Find out why designer Nasiba Hafiz is taking Saudi fashion to new heights

JEDDAH: Jeddah-based fashion designer Nasiba Hafiz is a rare gem in Saudi Arabia. Her bold prints, asymmetric designs, colorful motifs and minimalist approach have all combined to form the foundation of a fresh take on fashion in the country.
Gone are the days of excess colors, florals and sequins, fashion in the country has taken a more modern, simple and sophisticated turn — and some fashion insiders believe Hafiz is at the helm of the ship.
Arab News sat down with Hafiz in her wonderfully-eccentric living room, the walls of which were covered in an unconventional array of beautiful pictures and posters garnered from her travels abroad. Her avant-garde home is a reflection of her style, as well as her art-and-fashion-savvy family’s influence.
“I design what I feel. It’s a process that isn’t easy, especially with the growing market, but I take into consideration what is missing here. You’ll always find pieces suitable for the growing teen, the 20-something, the 30-something and even the 40-something that are looking to find comfortable, chic pieces for their wardrobe. I’m in tune with my designs and they reflect what I sense around me. I experiment with everything, I’ll never restrict myself,” Hafiz told Arab News.

Throw back Tuesday #nasibahafiz #بوكادوت

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Her take on fashion is a reminder that a designer’s main purpose is to reflect their personal style in their creations.
“You lose your sense if you follow what clients want. Abayas and kaftans sell fast here but that’s not what I want. I can play a small role in adding to this category in my own way with my Moroccan line and the ‘Love’ abayas, but that’s about it. That’s not what I can do. A good designer will not succumb to the pressure, you simply accommodate with the standards you’ve set for yourself. You have to find a balance and the best part of being a designer is having a good support base who look for your designs, who want to purchase them because they’re different, because they’re unique.
“If you’re a slave to the industry then you’re going to have to do what everyone wants you to do,” she added.
She is a firm believer in making the best of what you have. Instead of relocating abroad to a country where the fashion design base is more established, she decided to stay, not only for family reasons, but also because she believes that local support is what will make designers strive. This has not stopped her from creating her own pop-up fashion displays in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Dubai and London, showcasing some of her lines, however. She has also had a number of collaborations with various designers throughout the years — a fun way to spice things up and create even more interesting garments.
One aspect of Hafiz’s designs that is particularly interesting is the fact that she enlists the help of women tailors from non-profit center, Nesma Embroidery. The entity employs and trains Saudi Arabia-based women, many of whom have special needs requirements or are speech and hearing impaired. Their mission is to create a local industry that employs women in sewing and embroidery, something that Hafiz feels strongly about.
What makes Hafiz’s collection fun is how exceptional each piece is — you can always find a garment to suit your current mood and spirit. The fabrics are light and versatile and have a feminine feel to them, making them wearable and easy to pair with other items of clothing.
Given that the interview took place in Hafiz’s home, you can see how she became intrigued and interested in the world of home décor as well as fashion. She has a keen eye for detail and her home features some rare items. Her furniture is a representation of her eccentric style and love for vivid colors. From the black-and-white tiles to the iconic Martinique wallpaper depicting banana leaves, famously seen at the Beverly Hills Hotel, her Greek-Mediterranean style outdoor pool area and classic china coffee cups, everything is perfectly curated. There is a strong love and appreciation for vintage pieces apparent in both her fashion label as well as her home, but she has a special place in her heart for one particular type of home accessory.
“Home décor has been a hobby of mine for a long time and candles are significant to every home. They add a sense of calmness and spice to any home. A person’s scent is one of their own and while perfumes are special, candles are, and have always been, a staple of any home. I want to continue creating home items and adding something of my own creation in people’s homes, as well as their closets,” she said of her homeware line.
Hafiz’s taste in fashion and styling is a fresh, more laid back and easy style than what is typically found in Saudi Arabia. It takes a creative and innovative designer to go bold and break the rules, as well as bravery and lots of love to achieve and accomplish what this creative powerhouse has done with her fashion house.

ASORY, an Egyptian fashion house in full bloom

Updated 18 April 2018

ASORY, an Egyptian fashion house in full bloom

RIYADH: Debuting her fall/winter 2018 “Black Rose” collection at the first Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh, Rana Yousry, the designer behind ASORY House, tells Arab News that the collection, containing 25 couture pieces is designed for the ASORY woman. “The collection describes the ASORY woman, who epitomizes feminism, boldness, strength, and power,” she said.
Founded in late 2016, the design house wants to tell the story of different women, who when they come together, create something unique and exceptional.
Using fashion as a medium, Yousry emphasizes “the art of creation— it is not just about wearing a dress, but the story behind it.”

#Repost @arabfashioncouncil with @get_repost ・・・ ASORY @asoryofficial by Rana Yousry is all about strong and glamorous women. Yousry made history when she chose the Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh presented by Huawei to present her first collection. Photo taken by #huaweip20pro ‎ ‎آسوري للمصممة رنا يسري تحتفي بقوة المرأة من خلال الأزياء. وقد حققت يسري سبقا تاريخيا حين اختارت أسبوع الموضة العربي في الرياض من هواوي لإطلاق مجموعتها الأولى وهي سابقة بالنسبة إلى المصممين الاقليميين. #AFWHuaweiKSA #Arabfashionweekriyadh #BMWKSA #Arabfashionweek #RitzCarlton #Riyadh #RCMemories #AHKGroup #jamillapaulhairartist #wellaamea #wellaproksa #wellahair #Richardmille #RichardMilleRiyadh #comfortperfumesdeluxe #makeupforevermea #lifeisastage #lazurde_fashion #lazurde #arabfashioncouncil #imanartist @makeupforevermea @wellaproksa @richardmilleofficial @richardmillemiddleeast @bmw @huaweimobileksa @lazurde @comfortarabia #اسبوع_الموضة_العربي #مجلس_الازياء_العربي #fashion #فشن #ksa #egypt #fashiondesigner

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Strength, fragility, and imagery create savoir-faire, making the haute couture outfit a wearable “oeuvre d’art,” she explained. The design house is also heavily inspired by Assyrian history and the Assyrian star— taking sharp and edgy lines from the star to create classical or bold designs.
“The Black Rose collection took around 2,340 hours for the fabric to be created, designed, and refined to finally, envision the soul of the woman underneath it. Mermaid, tiered, asymmetric, bubble, and Maillot-inspired silhouettes have been used, because they speak to the ASORY woman,” Yousry said.
The collection uses a color palette of iridescent reds, yellow, and black with lamé gold and ruffles for texture. Evening dresses with frilled, textured sleeves and long cape sleeves and ruched corset with fray skirts were a highlight of the collection. Speaking on the feedback received so far, Yousry said that she has received very positive reactions. “I’ve been told that my first collection is very fresh, bold, and very different in terms of the cuts. It makes me very proud when they come up to me to say that I’ve inspired them to think about starting their own collection.”
It only goes to show that ASORY House has fulfilled the ambitions that it aspires for— something of meaning to every woman.

Also at the show, Lebanese designer Naja Saade and his design house Naja Saade Couture showcased a collection inspired by women and their journey. “Each piece is a unique design that reflects a woman’s image and personality. I aspire to create extraordinary designs — haute couture evening and wedding gowns — in which women can live their extraordinary moments,” Saade told Arab News. After graduating with a major in radiology, Saade shifted gears and pursued his childhood dream of being a fashion designer. Saade went on to establish his fashion house in 2012. Soft, feminine silhouettes, with luxurious elements like delicate lacing, hand-embroidered fabric and Swarovski crystals, feature in his signature designs. “They mirror femininity in all its forms,” he said. The Autumn/ Winter 2017-2018 collection, “Maharani” is inspired by the “women of this era, with all their contradictions.” According to Saade, “India was the ultimate source of inspiration for this collection, with themes drawn from the Maharaja’s costumes, the Hindu kings and rulers’ attire, transformed into designs that radiate femininity.” Using fabric like tulle, silk, brocade and silk, the collection exemplifies refined elegance and old-school glamor. Naja Saade Couture launched a high-end, ready-to-wear Fall/ Winter 2018-2019 collection last week’s Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh, which is more affordable and accessible as opposed to his one-of-a-kind pieces. The “Tail of Bird” collection featured 30 pieces, including long and medium-length dresses, jumpsuits, pant suits and two bridal dresses. The collection featured green, pink, red and white hues, inspired by nature and birds. Silk, crepe, muslin and tulle were used to create movement and texture. “I felt drawn by a bird’s symbolism, for it is both beautiful and mysterious. Despite the voyage and migration that governs its life, a bird adapts to new places, copes with circumstances and defies obstacles with beauty,” Saade says. “Free or captive, the bird sings with love and exudes positivity. Just like a woman who, no matter how burdened by the experiences of life, manages to conceal her grief and pain every time she goes out into the public, exuding beauty and mystery.”