Interview by Maya Alshabab.
Dubai-based brand Marwa Al Saffar introduces the concept of bourgeois-bohème design (bobo) to the world of abayas. Here you find flowing variations of velvet, silk and kashmir encrusted with embroidery and eastern motifs. Crystal Carnival’s Maya Al-Shabab had the chance to interview the woman behind the abayas and asked her some candid questions. Inspiring, witty and artistic, Ms Al Saffar started by introducing us to the beginnings of her brand…
“My passion and my dream of becoming a fashion designer started when I was around 8 years old. I used to pick my own clothes, mix and match the colors, and choose the trendiest of them all. However, I never had the time to start my fashion line. College was in a way an obstacle because I excelled in my studies, and my professors’ expectations for my academic career increased. Once I was done with college and started working I realized that it was the right time to follow my dream.
I created my brand Marwa Al Saffar in Dubai and the first collection was launched in January 2014. The attention and positive reviews the collection has been receiving encourages me to work harder and in a way confirms that I did the right thing by following my dreams!
CC: The creative process is a very interesting part of designing. Can you tell us what it was that inspired you to express your creativity through a brand of exclusive abayas?
One of the main reasons is that Abayas are black and working with black is challenging and that’s what I like to do, challenge myself.
I’m a writer and black is my favorite color, therefore; I don’t design but instead I tell a story. My bestseller black and white floral Abaya is a representative of a story I wrote. At some point in your life, you will trip over rocks that will always be an obstacle whenever you try to move forward and let go of your past. You will see darkness filling the sky and no stars sparkling. Don’t push the rocks away and don’t ignore them but be like water; flow between the rocks, allow the stars to shine again, and free yourself from the cage you left yourself in. Be like white flowers, pure and strong enough to face any obstacles that get in the way.
Another reason is that I want Abayas to be known worldwide; I want international designers to start designing Abayas.
CC: Please give us an insider’s look into the creative process of creating a new abaya design.
The first thing I do is search for unique fabrics, something that will standout. Then the second step is the fun part, brainstorming – “creating a story”. I mix and match the fabrics and create an image in my mind, and then I illustrate it.
The only two things that inspire me in this universe are writing, and looking up at the sky at night. Beautiful indeed.
CC: Tell us a little about the materials you use? Where are they from? How are the patterns created?
I love using dark colors, especially black. In fact, I intentionally drift away from bright colors because I don’t feel that they translate my style nor who I am. I love using dantel and embroidery in all of my designs.
As for the fabrics I use, they are all from India, Kashmir, & Japan.
CC: How many collections do you introduce every year?
I introduce four collections: Summer, Winter, Eid Collection 1, and Eid collection 2. My favorite is winter because I won’t be questioned if I used dark colors!
Shop Marwa Al Saffar on Instagram @by_marwahalsaffar, and stay tuned for a boutique opening soon in Dubai.