Marriam Mossalli, [email protected]
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2010-12-08 19:01

Fashion has always fought to be considered “true art” by connoisseurs of the classic genres because of its innate predisposition to appear superficial. Art, literature and music are — and have always been — privileges of leisure that are appraised for their cultural substance versus fashion, which most people see as merely a glamorized necessity. Nowadays, it seems that fashion has become even shallower with designer clothing being en vogue due to the sole fact that it is designer.
So, it was a much-welcomed surprise when Zaeem Jamal launched his women’s line, Z for Z, out of Dubai in 2009. His spiritual mission, existential themes — even the designer’s own Zen demeanor — injected a much-needed boost of consciousness into the fashion world.
Having worked the last seven years heading a team that designs for global brands, Jamal is no outsider when it comes to this industry. “I felt something was missing in fashion. I wanted to give my clients something with substance,” stated Jamal whose family has held a prominent place in the textile industry for generations. This provided him with a childhood surrounded by fabric gurus, master pattern-cutters and skilled embroiderers.
Thus, he created his brand based on the mission to deliver spirituality and purpose to the world of fashion. “It [Z for Z] is centered around a unique design strategy that fuses energy dynamics and spiritual philosophies,” explained Jamal, acknowledging that fashion can often be a superficial industry.
Z for Z’s Fall/Winter 2010 “Colors of I” collection reflected his spiritual mantra by borrowing its design philosophy from the seven Chakras (or life energies) and its color palette from their correlation with the rainbow. Jamal argued that there has even been scientific research on the effect of colors to one’s mood, but we don’t need lab results to believe him. His loyal clientele is proof enough.
“When a client chooses her dress, it’s usually because she is inexplicably drawn to it,” he revealed. “And, once she wears the gown, you see her suddenly transformed into a more confident and content version of herself.”
It was the “Colors of I” collection that earned Jamal “Best Designer of the Year” award at last season’s Dubai Fashion Week. Although this past season’s DFW omitted any sort of official award ceremony, it was an unspoken consensus among most editors that the London School of Economics graduate had done it once again. Yet, this time, he did it with a subtle collection based on the spiritual beings, often known as angels.
“I was warned against using the belief system of angles because it might be controversial,” revealed Jamal. “But, every major philosophy has some version or other.” Thus, he bravely stood by his spiritual (or fashionable) beliefs. “Each dress is inspired by an angel.”
The result? A thirty-piece collection of exquisite garments, entitled, “Angels & Seraphims.” Ranging from the elegant chiffon dresses and silk gowns to the contemporary satin jumpsuits, the “Angels & Seraphims” collection was a far departure from last season’s structured shapes and heavy embellishment of Z for Z’s signature crystal cutwork. Instead, this season featured ethereal draping and archetypal capes while manipulating organic silhouettes with lighter embellishments, such as sequin sheeting and sporadic teardrop crystal necklines.
Z for Z collection offers a unique combination of cuts and a vivid use of color, while also incorporating elements of seasonal trends and forecasts — a testament to Jamal’s business acumen coming into play. “Since we were dealing with celestial beings, I thought softer shades — more angelic and toned down — would be more appropriate for this collection.”
Even his approach to designing is spiritual. “I consult with various confidants,” confessed Jamal. “These people come from different spiritual backgrounds, yet still possess a consistent energy.” As a result, his designs are a synergy of their advice and his ideas.
“I meditate,” explained the centered-designer. “For this last collection, I just tried to feel what energy was emitted from these beings and worked based on that.” The design process would proceed with a hand-drawn sketch then a prototype, and lastly, a model fitting where edits would be made.
“We recognize the demands on time and energy that life puts on us, especially our clients under the public eye, and so our goal is to create fashion that gives a much needed lift in order to enable women to shine from the inside and out,” explained Jamal.
Z for Z hopes to inspire women to be creative and enlightened with their style, while looking at both external glamour and internal beauty. “We hope to enliven their own sense of spirituality that can grow with them as they discover and collect the different pieces of the collections,” he added.
However, Jamal isn’t just trying to align the energies of his clientele; he wants to instigate an entire movement in fashion. The 1980s witnessed such revolutionary concepts in the form of organic materials and an almost trendy adherence to animal rights. In this new millennium, Jamal hopes to incite a new sort of fashion revolution — one where fashion will shift from mere surface aesthetics to encompass a more holistic sense of wellbeing. “I wish more designers would follow suit,” said the designer whose mission is crystal clear: To make clothes that don’t just make you look good, but feel good too.

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