Saudi Designer

Why Saudi Designer Nasiba Hafiz’s Playful and Upcycled Pieces Need to Be on Your Radar

Why Saudi Designer Nasiba Hafiz’s Playful and Upcycled Pieces Need to Be on Your Radar

Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Fayad Fulani
Saudi designer Nasiba Hafiz stands out among Instagram’s glossy feeds for her authenticity and quirky style. “It all started with my parents, but mainly my mother, of course. We share the same name, and have so much in common, especially our love for fashion.”
Ensconced by seven siblings, Hafiz has always been something of a pioneer. Her idea of upcycling and recycling came to her after the passing of her father, renowned Saudi publisher Hisham Hafiz, in 2006. Many years later, she discovered that the family still had bags of his clothes stored. “Nobody wanted to give any away,” she recalls. “He was a collector of many things, but one thing that I remember most were his neck ties. He even had them in his dressing room inside a cupboard with a machine that would roll them so you can choose which one you want to wear for the day.” Hafiz crafted a memento for each of her siblings from her father’s ties and the idea to create clothes out of existing pieces was born.
Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Fayad Fulani
“I am passionate about the environment as well and I hate being in an industry that is among the top three that pollute Earth,” states Hafiz. “But my passion is fashion, so I try to make the best out of what I have. Instead of adding to the environment, I try to redesign, amend clothes that we already have, and use things that already exist like scarves, neck ties, and more,” continues the designer, who has degrees from London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins. Her designs are also inspired by musical plays and Egyptian film muses, and her signature Love and Heart abayas are a mélange of timeless, daring cuts and delicate tailoring. Hafiz’s work is all handmade in collaboration with Namat Embroidery. Her ongoing collaborators include Sarah’s Bag in Lebanon, Saudi artist RexChouk, SEP Jordan, Al Oula charity organization, and Sleysla KSA with Saudi women artists that transform traditional patterns and fabrics into eco-friendly, handmade modern designs.
Originally published in the June 2022 issue of Vogue Arabia
Read Next: Why Upcycling is the Biggest Trend Right Now

Saudi Designer Arwa Al Banawi on Bringing Her Dream Wedding Dress to Life

Saudi Designer Arwa Al Banawi on Bringing Her Dream Wedding Dress to Life

Saudi designer Arwa Al Banawi shares the collaborative process of bringing her dream wedding dress to life.
Arwa Al Banawi. Photo: Stavros Antypas

“Despite the fact that I am a proud Arab designer who designs for a contemporary urban luxury brand, when it came to designing my own wedding dress, the experience was different. I used to think that I would be one of those brides who wouldn’t take weddings too seriously, that I’d just do things spontaneously – but that was until I actually got engaged. It was then that I discovered a completely different side to myself! The emotional journey made me learn so much about myself and the kind of bride I really was: I wasn’t spontaneous at all. I realized that yes, the idea of stressing about a dress and the wedding may be a bit cliché, but it exists, and I certainly felt anxious. It’s a big deal, getting married, and what you wear is very personal. I wanted my dress to show people who I was. It can’t be done spontaneously. The wedding dress has to represent me and who I am. I have to feel myself in it. This is also one of the reasons I became a designer. Fashion is a mirror of society and a mirror of yourself, or who you aspire to be. Fashion is about feelings and a moment and memories.
Photo: Supplied

I was planning to design my own dress, but honestly, I wouldn’t advise any bride to do that. Designing your wedding dress is a nerve-racking process. If I had a senior designer at my atelier who I could have worked with closely, and from whom I could have taken advice and had help, then I might have made my own dress. But I work alone, as the head designer of Arwa Al Banawi, and I couldn’t make up my mind. I was worried all the time. I wanted to wear something that would feel right. For me, it was more of a feeling than a specific look that I was going for. I started sketching and looking at vintage dresses. I looked around for inspiration – my mother; Audrey Hepburn. After a month, I still hadn’t come to a conclusion. I kept changing silhouettes and flitting between fabrics and embroideries.
Photo: Jessica Andreatta Studio

I then thought to myself, just take a look at wedding designers and see what’s out there. I kept going back and forth, fixating on one dress then another, until one day, I came across a dress on Pinterest that stayed in my mind for about a week. I saw something special in that dress. I did some research and found it was designed by Jessica Andreatta from Australian bridal and couture house J. Andreatta. It was 4am Saudi time. I called them right then and there! Jessica herself answered the phone. I told her about the dress I liked, my story, and that I’m a designer. We connected on that call and she agreed to make me the dress I first saw online – with a few personal adjustments, of course. Two weeks later, Jessica was working on my dress after I’d reviewed some changes.
The embroidery reading “The sun, the moon, the desert and the sea, sunrise, and sunset.” Photo: Jessica Andreatta Studio

I have lived, studied, and worked in different parts of the world, and I wanted my dress to be bold, eclectic, timeless, grounded and, most importantly, effortless. Jessica gave me just that. I envisioned an off-shoulder dress, as that was always my dream look. I wanted a balance between elegance and confidence. More so, I definitely wanted to add a touch of my culture to the dress; something that would reflect my artistic soul. I decided to express this through Arabic embroidery, which Jessica happily agreed to do and beautifully fit it into the overall dress. The embroidery on the veil was done by hand and the motifs are beautiful. There are so many details in the dress that it felt one-of-a-kind; like it came out of a modern, romantic love poem. The embroidery reads, “The sun, the moon, the desert and the sea, sunrise, and sunset.” It comes from a poem of mine that I used in my FW18 collection. It means that you don’t have to choose between the sun or the moon, the desert or the sea, the sunrise or the sunset, because when you fall in love, you balance each other; you are fire and water and your shared love is incredibly powerful. It’s an idea close to my heart.
Photo: Supplied

The design journey for my dress was a crazy, fun one. Like everyone else, I was stuck at home as a result of Covid-19. We did most of it via FaceTime, including taking my measurements. I was OK doing it since I am a designer. Being able to take measurements helped make the process easier. It was an adventure, to say the least! It’s a wedding dress and anything could go wrong. Doing my dream dress over FaceTime was fun and daring and I’m glad I did it, even though my mother thought I was crazy.
I believe a woman should choose her dress. It could be her mom’s old dress, it could cost US $100, it could be an expensive designer dress – it doesn’t matter – as long as it represents her. I chose a designer who reflects my bridal taste: one-of-a-kind, romantic, and intricate in the details. A wedding dress should feel like you, because your wedding is about you, your story, and this new journey you’re embarking on.”
As told to Nadine Kahil
Read Next: Arwa Al Banawi’s Latest Collection Is An Ode To Strong Saudi Women
Originally published in the December 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia

Saudi Label Leem’s New Collection is All About Understated Elegance

Saudi Label Leem’s New Collection is All About Understated Elegance

Are you craving a more minimalist, pared-down wardrobe in 2021? Have you been looking at those spur-of-the-moment fast-fashion buys with shameful regret? Are the world’s vast environmental issues weighing heavily on your mind? It’s time for a refresh. Look no further than the streamlined elegance of Saudi label, Leem, whose second drop of Fall 2020 […]
The post Saudi Label Leem’s New Collection is All About Understated Elegance appeared first on Vogue Arabia.

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