RIYADH: Luxury cars are not just for getting around, but are works of art and fashion accessories, panelists told a Forbes Middle East Women’s Summit discussion.
The discussion on the final day of the forum focused on the links between fashion and luxury automotive, and featured Saudi fashion designer Razan Al-Azzouni and Michelle Lusby, bespoke lead designer at Rolls-Royce.
It was moderated by Mariam Farag, global keynote speaker and founder of Humanizing Brands.
Lusby and Al-Azzouni explained how the paths of design and fashion intersect, attracting more women into luxury car showrooms.
Al-Azzouni stepped into the art world when she began creating sculptures in college.
However, her huge pieces made out of heavyweight materials and metals were difficult to carry around campus.
“My professor told me that I should go into paper-making. When I started making paper, I realized that it looks just like fabric,” she said.
Al-Azzouni bought a sewing machine and began turning paper into disposable clothing.
“I got a phone call from an editor for Vanity Fair saying that they wanted to do a feature about our disposable clothing fashion,” she said.
What started as a passion turned into a business.
Al-Azzouni recently became the first Arab designer to collaborate with the Walt Disney Company for a special collection inspired by Snow White.
Lusby came from a creative background, as her family specialized in textile design.
“My grandmother used to hand sew the handbags. So I used to watch her as a young child, and that instilled this sense of the beauty of taking a raw material and creating a beautiful object,” she said.
Bespoke is taking an existing Rolls Royce vehicle, as beautiful as it already is, and configuring it to suit the personality of the client, Lusby said.
“I work in bespoke with clients daily in Dubai, and we are here to really enhance the storyline of the creation of the color and the materials around each individual.”
She said the aim is to “inspire the client to pursue something extra special, and really showcase their personalities through the color, material and design.”
Lusby studied finance, but quickly switched to textile and surface design. She described it as a segue between the fashion world and interior design.
“Automotive never really came into my life until later on from work experiences with product design brands, until Rolls-Royce offered me the opportunity to work with bespoke,” she said.