The renowned Emirati fashion designer Zareena Yousif uses local traditions of weaving and embroidery to create flowing, feminine garments. Here she shares insights regarding her new collection, released last month.
I had a multi-brand store, helping designers to see what sells in Dubai and what doesn't. At the Dubai Festival, they approached me, as the first Emirati, to do a festival during Summer Surprises. I started my own brand seven or eight years ago. I never studied design. It was a hobby and it has become a serious profession.
I love my embroidery techniques to be very ethnic, so I take them from different cultures and countries. I use badla (silver and gold threads) studs. I use very ethnic types of material when I do a motif on a piece. It can be very difficult to balance it with the chiffon I use, because the embroidery is heavy. It takes a very long time to do.
For our country, since our weather is so humid, I love to use chiffons and georgettes. These flowing fabrics fit a woman's body. I'm not into raw silk because our weather doesn't suit it.
This season I've used gothic and earthy colours, in a dark way. I used pastels, off-whites, greens and very dark greys.
Every time I used to take a jewel and use that to base a collection around, or a culture such as India, Morocco or Greece. This collection was about the whispers of women. When sitting with them at a party, or at a gathering in the evening or at wedding, I would hear them say: "Zareena, come on we want something. We want to wear kaftans but they should not look like kaftans. We want to wear dresses, but they should have sleeves." It was like these whispers of women in my brain.
It is very hard. We need to have groups. We have to have somebody explaining to us and supporting us. The new designers coming up now are really facing hard times. I wish we could come together, have a union and sit together to do a fashion week. Still, there is plenty of talent in UAE.
Don't rush. There are a lot of people coming up and rushing to get on the catwalk. For me it took me nine or 10 years to build a name. Make your team first. Make the base right. You have to continue working and being inspired. You have to have a storyboard. You have to have patience in order to make a good collection.