x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Fashion design for a difficult age

The Emirati clothes designer Fatma bin Fahad Al Mayyasa is seeking to fill a gap in the fashion market with her vibrant "tween" collection.

Fatma bin Fahad Al Mayyasa. Razan Alzayani / The National
Fatma bin Fahad Al Mayyasa. Razan Alzayani / The National

The Emirati designer Fatma bin Fahad Al Mayyasa is seeking to fill a gap in the GCC's fashion market by targeting teenagers with a vibrant collection of jumpsuits, jackets and dresses. Just in time for Eid, her debut "tween" collection Story of Alia, aimed at 13 to 19-year-olds, is now available exclusively at her flagship Dubai boutique.

Tell me about the inspiration behind your Story of Alia collection.

I met a 13-year-old model called Natalia at a fashion event held in Dubai for Angela Missoni when she came to town. Natalia is the daughter of the former Miss Romania and she became the muse for my project. She highlighted how hard it was to find fashion apparel for her age group. This also happened to be what my younger sister of 18 was telling me, too. So, I started working on the "tween" theme and the Story of Alia reflects every teenager's inherent super-girlie, fun style with the right amount of feminine sophistication.

What are the hallmarks of the new range?

Well, first, teenagers are the most difficult age to dress because they are in-between child and adult fashion. So, I was careful to study that age group's preferences of style and colour, checking with Natalia and my sister at every step. Their concern was for the line not to look "too classic" and on the other hand not "too hippie-like". Instead, they wanted a collection that suited their age range and is probably best described as funky, bohemian chic.

What colours and fabrics were chosen for your tween collection?

I chose six basic colours and three standard ones; red, black and off-white. The other colours, which are optional, include lime green and pink. So there's a mix and match. The materials I am using are sheer tulle, organza and jersey, because tweens prefer this material more than any other.

What about the detailing on many of the pieces - is there a story behind the intricate embroidery?

It's actually traditional to the GCC and has somewhat disappeared, so I was embracing the technique, adding it to the majority of the designs.

These pieces have been hand-embroidered, very delicately. These embellished fabrics used to be very expensive, but now, because there's not so much demand and people have forgotten about them, I have embraced them again. They used to be used a lot by my mother and grandmother's generation for bridal wear or special occasion outfits for Eid, for example. I've also used a touch of Swarovski in the collection and some feathers, as they are seasonal.

The pieces are modest and modern in equal measure. On what occasions do you foresee tweens wearing the clothes? Did you have Eid in mind, for example?

Exactly, yes. But you also could wear the collection to many other occasions. Tweens can mix things up by wearing jeans and jupes underneath some of the pieces, meaning they can look formal or informal - suiting all occasions. It's suited for all nationalities, too.

Do you have an autumn collection for women in the works?

Yes, I do and, honestly speaking, it's much easier to design for a lady than a teenager! I am actually introducing the same bohemian concept for my Cruise collection and for autumn/winter I am preparing the fabrics and beginning the designs right now.

Visit www.almayyasa.com