Meet the Saudi fashion star who makes her own rules

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


Destiny’s designers: Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé don Arab gowns at charity event

Kelly Rowland wearing Yousef Al-Jasmi. (AFP)
Updated 15 October 2018
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Destiny’s designers: Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé don Arab gowns at charity event

DUBAI: Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé both chose Middle East-based designers for their trip down the red carpet at a charity event last week.

The superstars attended the City of Hope Gala in Santa Monica, California, wearing floor-length gowns by designers from Kuwait and Lebanon.

For her part, Rowland chose a glittering, rose gold gown by Kuwaiti designer Yousef Al-Jasmi, with a high collar and slit at the back. She accented the figure-hugging dress with a pair of dazzling earrings and slicked-back hair.

Meanwhile, Beyoncé chose a black velvet jacket by Lebanese label Elie Saab. The belted piece featured embellishments on the shoulder and a plunging neckline and is from the label’s Autumn/Winter 2016 collection.

Beyoncé paid homage to a high-profile music executive being honored at a charity event to raise money for cancer research, The Associated Press reported.

The singer’s vocals soared as she performed three ballads including her 2009 smash hit “Halo” and “Ava Maria” after saluting the character of Warner/Chappell Music Publishing CEO Jon Platt at the City of Hope gala near Los Angeles on Thursday night. She took the stage following her husband, Jay Z, who presented Platt with the Spirit of Life award during a charity event that raised more than $6 million.

“Most people lead with their ego, but you lead with your heart,” Beyoncé said Platt, who will soon be leaving his position at Warner/Chappell to take on the top role at Sony/ATV, the top publishing company in the music business.

“You have touched so many lives, mine included,” she added.

Jay Z called Platt the “Obama of the music industry.” The music executive is known for signing publishing deals with Jay Z, Usher, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg. His roster of songwriters at Warner/Chappell includes Lil Wayne, Bruno Mars and Timbaland.

Both Beyoncé and Jay Z appeared at the black-tie charity event after the couple wrapped up their On The Run II tour about a week ago.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than my brother, Jon Platt,” Jay Z told more than 1,000 attendees. “He’s known as ‘Big Jon’ and he has a beautiful soul.”

City of Hope is a treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases as the Music, Film and Entertainment Industry Group has raised more than $118 million in 45 years. The award is the group’s highest honor recognizing those that have helped further music, film and entertainment.

Previous Spirit of Life award recipients include Quincy Jones, Clive Davis, Irving Azoff and Mo Ostin.

Music mogul Diddy, singer Usher, former NBA player Chauncey Billups and some of Platt’s family members took part in a video dedicated to the music executive. Platt’s oldest son, Jonathan Platt, was diagnosed with diabetes.