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.” 


The Six: Oscars red carpet rewind

Emma Stone at the 2015 Academy Awards. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2019
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The Six: Oscars red carpet rewind

DUBAI: We recount some of our favorite Arab-designed gowns to grace the Oscars’ red carpet.

Halle Berry

Berry made history in 2002 when she became the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress. She wore a now iconic Elie Saab burgundy gown with a see-through corset and floral detailing for the occasion.

Jennifer Lopez

Lopez presented at the 2012 ceremony and turned heads in a beautiful white Zuhair Murad dress embellished with sequins and featuring a plunging neckline and figure-hugging cut.  

Lady Gaga

Always one to shine, Lady Gaga showed up to the 2015 show wearing a white Azzedine Alaia dress with red dishwashing gloves.

Emma Stone

Stone wore a beautiful green-hued Elie Saab gown to the 2015 ceremony. The embellishments, cut and fall of the fabric made the dress a whimsical and dreamy number to remember.

Jenna Dewan

At the 2014 awards show, Dewan wore a mermaid style Reem Acra gown that was tight fitting and embellished with feathers and sequins.

Chrissy Teigen

The always elegant Teigen wore a white Zuhair Murad dress with a high split to the 2017 ceremony show. The gown featured metallic detailing and a gold belt to cinch in the waist.