Meet the Saudi fashion star who makes her own rules

1 / 2
The clothing line is perfect for young, independent women. (Photos supplied)
2 / 2
The young designer has been interested in art and design since she was a child. (Photos supplied)
Updated 13 February 2018
0

Meet the Saudi fashion star who makes her own rules

JEDDAH: Mashail Abdullah Alhusaini is one of several fashion designers steadily gaining recognition in Saudi Arabia. Alhusaini claims to be the first Saudi designer to gain a Master’s degree in the Art of Fashion — she got hers from London’s City University in 2011.
Alhusaini’s much-anticipated ready-to-wear capsule collection combines traditional design with modern flourishes. In her website bio, she writes that she sees fashion as “a space where I can create my own rules and express my own feelings and ideas.” That is the inspiration behind her Masha Design brand, which she launched five years ago.
At first, Alhusaini concentrated on creating unique prêt-à-porter gowns, but over the years Masha Design has evolved. Aside from designing and selling accessories, Alhusaini has diversified Masha into three distinct clothing lines: “Couture” — custom dresses and bridal gowns; “Ramadan” — ready-to-wear themed collections including the sophisticated “Luna” and the casual, affordable “T-thobe” range; and “Masha Abaya” — delicately crafted off-the-rack abayas designed to suit young, independent women. “I design for bold, independent women who seek change,” she said.
Alhusaini credits the success of her “Ramadan” line with helping to establish Masha Design as a successful Saudi brand.
The young designer has been interested in art and design since she was a child, she told Arab News.
“Traveling played the most important and positive role in supporting my talent. I lived in France, Italy and London for years, which helped me to absorb the beauty of some of the most prominent European countries. Linguistically, this has been a great boon, making me a polyglot, a skill which furthers my ability to communicate with others and fulfill their demands,” Alhusaini said.

SOLD OUT #love #ramadan #mashadesign #ootd #goodvibes #tshirt

A post shared by Masha Design (@mashadesign) on

She attended Koefia International Academy of Haute Couture and Art of Costume in Rome, the Institute of European Design (IED) in Milan, before heading to London.
“I apply the skills and techniques that I have learned especially from the two schools (in Italy),” she said. “I use the old-school white color which is (popular in) the Haute Couture school to create night and bridal gowns. For the ‘Ramadan’ and abayas collections, I use the modern (ready-to-wear) faster techniques to create our very own patterns.”
Alhusaini said the world of fashion has shifted significantly since she launched Masha Design.
“A decade ago, consumers followed the designer. But today consumers hold the power. Fashion designers these days are forced to be hypersensitive to consumers’ needs and wants, due to the intense competition.”
When she started Masha, she said, her vision “didn’t involve anything traditional.” But she soon realized that to survive commercially, she would need to find a way to focus her creativity on classic regional styles.
“I was force to create thobe and abaya lines,” she said. “It was a huge success and helped me to get recognized in the market, but it was a huge challenge for me to create something that stands apart from others.”
Fashion is, Alhusaini feels, “one of the most competitive industries.”
“If you don’t have a thick skin, you won’t survive,” she said. “I believe we live in a constant race against the passage of time; we should overtake it before it overtakes us and leaves us striving for the ultimate modernity.”
Alhusaini keeps ahead in that race by regularly traveling to attend shows, reading a lot, and constantly checking the fashion forecasts. Social media is also an important tool, she said.
Alhusaini advised aspiring designers to ensure they have a solid knowledge of fashion — as well as talent — if they are to compete in the industry. They should, she suggested, try to innovate, and must stay strong and believe in themselves. Most importantly, she said, they must not be afraid to fail.
“I believe that everything changes in this life, whether it’s our ideas, our thoughts or we as humans. We must try to (stick with) our decisions and never give up, because you never know what you are capable of till you try and the outcome of this will surprise you. Nothing is permanent in the fashion world so don’t limit yourself,” she concluded.


Karl Lagerfeld: Looking back at his rise to fame and love of Arabian fashion

The designer died at the age of 85 on Tuesday. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 19 February 2019
0

Karl Lagerfeld: Looking back at his rise to fame and love of Arabian fashion

DUBAI: As tributes pour in from across the fashion world over the death of industry icon Karl Lagerfeld, we take a look at his storied rise to fame, as well as his controversial comments on Middle Eastern migrants and his love of fashion from the region.

The designer died at the age of 85 on Tuesday after he failed to make an appearance at the Chanel show at Paris Couture Week in January, prompting industry insiders to question the state of his health.

Reuters reported that Lagerfeld enjoyed the stature of a deity among mortals in the world of fashion, where he stayed on top for well over half of a century and up to his death, at an age almost nobody apart from himself knew with to-the-day precision.

The German designer was best known for his association with France’s Chanel, dating back to 1983. The brand, the legend now goes, risked becoming the preserve of monied grannies before he arrived, slashing hemlines and adding glitz to the prim tweed suits of what is now one of the world’s most valuable couture houses.

But Lagerfeld, who simultaneously churned out collections for LVMH’s Fendi and his eponymous label — an unheard of feat in fashion — was almost a brand in his own right.
Sporting dark suits, white, pony-tailed hair and tinted sunglasses in his later years that made him instantly recognizable, an irreverent wit was also part of a carefully crafted persona.

“I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that,” runs one legendary quote attributed to him, and often recycled to convey the person he liked to play. “It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long.”

Tributes pour in 

The world’s fashion elite took to social media to pay tribute to the hugely respected designer, with the likes of Victoria Beckham, Donatella Versace and Lilly Allen leading the pack.

Versace shared a similar message.

Singer Allen took to social media with a touching message.

Meanwhile, Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad also paid tribute.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In great honor and admiration of the iconic fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld - Rest In Peace

A post shared by Zuhair Murad Official (@zuhairmuradofficial) on

Model Gigi Hadid shared a message on Instagram Stories.

Controversial comments

His artistic instincts, business acumen and commensurate ego combined to commercially triumphant effect in the rarefied world of high fashion, where he was revered and feared in similar proportions by competitors and top-models.

Lagerfeld was as harsh with his fashion models as he was searingly critical of anyone he considered "not trendy".

He fired his closest female friend, former Chanel model Ines de la Fressange, in 1999 after she agreed to pose as Marianne, France's national symbol, without asking him first.

Occasionally his sharp tongue has stirred controversies, though he also had a flair for a good soundbite.

In 2017, he sparked outrage by evoking the Holocaust in an attack on Chancellor Angela Merkel over her opening of Germany’s borders to migrants.

“One cannot – even if there are decades between them – kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place,” the 80-year-old Chanel designer told a French TV show.

“I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said: ‘The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust’,” he added.

Middle Eastern inspiration

Despite the abrasive comments, the designer went on to release an Egypt-inspired collection in December 2018 and sent models down the runway in a rich array of Ancient Egypt-themed outfits at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gold shimmered all over the runway, as models strolled past the floodlit temple in everything from gold thigh-high boots to gold brimmed hats to glistening dresses with golden feather adornments, to shoulder-length gold earrings.

Singer Pharrel walked the runway during Karl Lagerfeld's Egypt-inspired show in December. (AFP)

It isn’t the only time he has looked to the Middle East for inspiration, however.

The designer made a much-reported-on appearance in Dubai in 2014 when Chanel staged its Cruise collection show in the city.

That collection was inspired by an Orientalist vision of hazy Arabian nights and featured harem pants, ghutra-pattern-inspired coats and diaphanous jumpsuits, along with a heavy use of mosaic-style patterns.

Karl Lagerfeld photographed at ‘The Island’ in Dubai during the Chanel fashion show on May 13, 2014. (AFP)

In 2018, he worked with Lebanese architect Aline Asmar D’Amman on the renovation of Paris’s Hôtel de Crillon and, in a win for the Middle Eastern fashion scene, he photographed Bella Hadid for Vogue Arabia’s first September issue in 2017.

In rare moments when he was not working, Lagerfeld retired to one of his many homes in Paris, Germany, Italy or Monaco, all of them lavish carbon copies of 18th-century interiors.