Lamya Abedin, the abaya designer and owner of Queen of Spades, talks about her life in fashion.
'It makes me happy to think that I am one step ahead'
When I was young I didn't know much about stitching but I always used to play around with my clothing and my school uniform. I used to play with my mum's wardrobe a lot and practise mixing and matching stuff. Today, if I buy an outfit from a brand you will see me mixing it with other things. I always change and add things like scarves, brooches and belts.
I designed my first abaya when I was 13. I went and chose the colours and everything, and I told them how to do it for me. I didn't know then that I wanted to be a designer. I was always interested in fashion in every aspect: the clothes, the hair, the make-up, the whole look. I really cared about the details of every single thing. It's the same today. At my photo shoots I take care of everything. It's because I like it to look different every time and I don't want people to get bored.
When it comes to myself, I like to change my hair colour and make-up all the time. Change is good and that's one of the reasons I went into this. That and my mum. She is still one of the most gorgeous ladies, beautifully dressed all the time. She was someone I always looked up to. If you saw her you'd think she was my sister. My grandparents are quite fashionable, too. Each of my pieces is one of a kind. Every person who buys from me is so much like me. They also want to be unique. They don't want anyone to copy their pieces. They want to stand out in the crowd or at whatever event they go to. Even if they work in offices, they want their piece to be something that not everyone has. I think it's the nature of a woman.
I like things to be creative and unique and something a bit different. That's my character. And every piece I make is so much of me; it's so much what I've lived through, places I've been to, people I've met. Having lived abroad, I always like to see the heritage clothing of a country because nowadays everything is so modernised. In each country I lived, the clothing was completely different. The most interesting was in Libya. They put a dress on top of a dress on top of a dress. Each one is a different texture and colour. It's like so many blends on top of each other.
In Tunisia their traditional clothing is very similar to the Moroccan jalabiya with a hood. They wear it during the winter, particularly in Tozeur, which is on the desert side of Tunisia and is where the Bedouin tradition really comes from. If you've seen Star Wars - it was made in Tozeur - the outfits were inspired by that gown. I learn from different cultures. The first designer thing I owned was a red Gucci bag. I was a teenager. I felt that because I bought it with money I had earned that it was something really special. I still have it. But you wouldn't see everyone going for red. I guess even then I wanted to make a statement and stand out.
In the daytime I wear jeans or leggings. I am a mother of three and am always on the move. If I'm going out in the evening, I might go for a skirt. And I also have lots of party dresses. I love Christian Lacroix because he's a lot about mixing fabrics and colours. And I like Jean Paul Gaultier. His cuts really make you slim. I like Cavalli too. His cuts are like a jigsaw puzzle; they really complement the figure of a woman. And Galliano is someone who is quite daring and likes to explore new things.
When I first started out, I did these double abayas that had colour inside and chiffon fabric on top. People used to say: "Oh, it's so pretty but we want to wait for people to start wearing it first and then we'll have the courage to wear it." It was the same when I first did my pantaloon abaya - the jumpsuit style. People said: "What is this?" They didn't get it. For me, I started wearing it straightaway and now you see so many of them around. It makes me happy to think that I am one step ahead.
Queen of Spades is available at Galeries Lafayette, Dubai Mall (04 339 9933).