Arab Designer of the Year

K.S. Ramkumar | Arab News
Publication Date: 
Thu, 2007-05-17 03:00

Fashion shows worldwide always follow the same pattern: Boys and girls, men or women dressed in the latest collections parading down a catwalk to public and media scrutiny.

Mohammed Mahmoud Ashi, an award-winning young Saudi fashion designer, has carved a niche for himself by being different from the rest. He too has youth donning his latest creations and walking down the ramp — but with a difference. Each of his shows has a story to tell.

Ashi, who won the prestigious ‘Arab Designer of the Year’ award for his recent fashion show in Beirut says writing stories is his other occupation and so every show that he presents has a different tale to tell. His story “A Tale of Two Sisters” was the theme of his award-winning Beirut fashion show. It was his third presentation. “I am proud that I am different and have a story to tell each time I present a show,” Ashi said in an interview. “One of the two sisters dies and the story revolves around the surviving sister who creates an imaginary sister and a new collection for her,” Ashi said. “I did lots of research using a scientific approach for creating this collection and ended up going to Japan, Britain and France. The audience reaction to the show was very good,” he added. The award is part of the Project Fashion recently shown on Future TV.

Born in 1980, Ashi has had an impressive career since he first became interested in fashion designing. He attended a French design school and obtained his bachelor’s degree in three years. He learned a great deal from Elie Saab, a Lebanese designer. “Elie Saab saw my interest and made me his assistant. It was a great experience.”

He made his major foray into the field when working with leading Arab designer Mohammed Berjawi as his assistant. He presented an haute couture collection in 2005. He then teamed up with Elie Saab to present an haute couture and ready to wear spring/summer 2006 collection. This was followed by working on autumn/winter 2006-07 collection as an assistant designer of accessories, including bags and shoes.

He worked with Millia Maron Studio and presented a ready to wear women’s autumn/winter collection in 2006, followed by another women’s collection spring/summer 2007.

He worked for two months in 2006 as a concept designer for Skin, an architecture and interior and graphic design company.

Interestingly, Ashi has a legal academic background and has undertaken various legal courses. He also holds a diploma in business from St. Michael’s College in Vermont, United States He also did a diploma in Lebanon to qualify as a stylist and pattern maker.

Ashi now has his eyes set on a European country, “Maybe Paris,” where he wants to present his fashion show with a story. “My new fashion show is always with a new story. And that distinguishes me from the rest.”

His father is a well known textile dealer and company owner and his sister Soha has been a designer for over four years. Thus, Ashi is keen to present his show in his home country. “Yes, I want to present my collection here — and soon,” says Ashi whose other interests include photography and making short movies. As he is a stylist and a good concept developer, he will probably succeed.

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