Celebrating a decade since her brand’s launch, the Saudi designer reflects on coming into her own.
A modern muse
This year marks a decade milestone for Saudi designer Daneh Buahmad who launched her label Daneh back in 2011. With a focus on comfort, Buahmad is known for her contemporary tailoring, draping, and timeless silhouettes that draw inspiration from men’s thobes. “When I’m designing, the Daneh woman is in my head. She is the woman who is making a difference, achieving her goals, standing up for herself, and has a presence. And that should be every woman,” asserts the designer. Buahmad approaches her craft with a mindset to enable women to feel good, confident, and polished. “It makes me happy when I see any woman wearing my designs, and even happier when I get notes from my customers about compliments they received,” notes Buahmad, whose pieces have been worn by Queen Rania and Melissa McCarthy. As well as a degree in interactive media and a career in IT, Buahmad took courses at Central Saint Martins alongside completing her master’s in London. “My corporate career is a part of me, and fashion design feeds a part of my soul that IT can’t, and I’m happy to be involved in both right now,” she says. Buahmad’s entrepreneurial spirit and sharp eye for sourcing fabrics run through her blood. “My grandmother was a small business owner in fabrics,” she shares. “Her store was full of imported textiles. I used to love seeing all the rolls.”
Setting the mood
In her studio, Buahmad finds energy through music. “It’s a big part of my life and I love all kinds of music,” she says. Depending on her mood, she switches between the smooth vocals of Jorja Smith and soulful sounds of Algerian band Tinariwen to Pablo Alborán and songs from the Hamilton soundtrack. Her latest mood board is linked to American singer Donna Summer. “I attended a small wedding when I was young. It started out normal with negazi music that suddenly stopped, and disco started playing,” she reminisces with laughter. “I’m working on something that is more focused on my heritage, specifically from the eastern province of Saudi Arabia– a statement piece that tells my story.”
Buahmad’s personal style speaks volumes. “I like things oversized – white boyfriend shirts and quirky pieces. I’m a sucker for statement boots and sneakers,” she says. “I’m either super casual or dressed up; there’s no room for in-between.” By day, you’ll find her in R13 and Acne Studios tops paired with Moussy and Levi’s jeans. Adding a sentimental touch to her look, Buahmad pulls her mother’s gold chain metal bag and a brown leather belt from the Seventies that belonged to father. Her repertoire of eveningwear is dramatic, uplifting, and bold. “I love pieces by Vivienne Westwood, Maison Margiela, and Junya Watanabe – they are investments and will always stand out. I also have a black dress I’ve owned for more than 10 years that I’m still excited to wear.”
While scents can take you back to a specific time, sometimes it’s a striking perfume bottle that evokes nostalgia. “I used to love them when I was a kid; Chanel No.5 and this large Nina Ricci bottle with two doves in my mother’s room,” says Buahmad. Today, her vanity mainstays are Le Labo Noir 29, which was first gifted to her by a friend, and Christian Dior Ambre Nuit.
Buahmad is a firm believer in an early morning routine to set the tone for the rest of her day. “I wake up early and try to take time for myself before I jump into work mode. I’ve broken the habit of checking my phone and emails first thing,” she says. “I have some rituals like going to the beach for an hour just to get that energy from the sea,” says the Dubai-based designer. For a refreshing energy boost, Buahmad turns to yin and kundalini yoga. “I like the challenging workout element of it, as well as the calming effect,” she explains. She also finds calmness through shamanic breathwork. “I got into it pre-pandemic. Unfortunately, online sessions didn’t work as well with me, so I’m waiting to go back to big groups as the energy is amazing,” she says.
To find solace, Buahmad retreats to her garden. “It’s personal, I have many memories of gatherings in it, and I’ve watched my plants grow and flourish over time,” she says. Bursting with pink bougainvillea, hibiscus, and fragrant gardenia, her garden is not only an escape where Buahmad finds calm and clarity, it’s also where tends to her vegetable beds. “I’m still an amateur,” she says with a smile. “I have tomatoes, eggplants, melons, cucumbers, and chilis, as well as rosemary, mint, and basil. I have my moments when life feels challenging, but when that happens, I sit back and look around me, at my son, my house, and my garden,” she explains about reflecting in her peaceful oasis. “I think of my family and friends, I think of where I currently am in life, and that as stressful as some phases are or will be, I remind myself that I’m still here and everything will work out.”
Hair and mekup: Mirna Abdullah