4.10.14

High Priestess of the Temple of Technological Wizardry


I was walking back home carrying this huge blender (rejoice! morning Acai bowls!) and stumbled upon this tiny vintage shop called Eclater on inside a building advertised as usual by a mannequin in the courtyard and a tiny sign. I fancied getting myself a Eid present and was trying to decide between a perfect gold twisted chain and a starry 1940s strand of crystals when I caught sight of this rare rare dream-cklace. It was a 1960s metal "armour" choker with a giant pearl suspended in the middle. AMAZING. I LOVE anything sci-fi (in Middle School, I actually read 80% of the Sci-Fi books in our school library- and never again) and this was just my cup of tea. The first thing that came to mind was that if I put Barbarella and the Mutants scene from Planet of the Apes, with all their pearly, pointed, metallic, cold, kind of S&M temple vibes in my newly-purchased blender, you would get this necklace. SO obsessed. I am convinced it has special powers. I'm going to wear it with a simple white silk cami dress, silver shoes and wild wild hair. Watch them turn to dust! 
I am not a big accessories person. I actually almost never wear them. I quite despise "statements necklaces" "statement rings" statement anything really. I feel so much of modern accessorizing is just meaningless, commercial noise that people use to mask and distract. I am much more interested in jewelry with a  story. A piece that conjures up a mood and works with the girl (or boy) to amplify, rather than ornament, their natural drama. Pieces of jewelry are powerful objects and need to work with your face, hair, outfit and personality to fit you. This is my idea of it, anyhow. It is for this reason that I am attracted to things that connect to strong memories or allow me to escape or assume another character. They work with me physically but also connect to my character and my desire. Portals! Kidding.
Something about the primitive landscape, glinting metal, ominous mood, and pearly, milky colours has always driven me craaazy. I want to live in that world! Without the birds and cages and vindictive apes, of course. 

What do we do after the apocalypse? SCI FI FABULOUS.

20.8.14

Rich People Who Copy Other Designers' Work To Make More Money

I really wish I could understand why fashion so often succumbs to this immoral laziness. Top brands, successful people just literally rip off an EXACT design from another designer and sell it under their own label. It is so outrageous and I don't understand why no one ever says anything! Like Ivanka bloody Trump** or Jessica Simpson or Mary Kate and Ashley or, for God's sake, Chiara Salad Ferragni need any more money! Can you at least alert your design department not to blatantly copy-paste a design from a brand which you probably WEAR (or are gifted!!) Imagine a blogger or celebrity getting a pair of shoes as a gift from the designer then taking it to their Chinese factory being all "hey copy this gift and make me money from it"! Outrageous! What is most demoralizing is the copies made even by incredible top brands like Prada/ Miu Miu. I mean Miu Miu! The temple of originality! The last non-sellout! I couldn't believe it! WHY. Not only the same exact heel, same cut, same style but the whole bloody SS14 collection was copied! What the framboise, people. JUST COME UP WITH SOME OTHER DESIGNS. Holy crap! It's your job! All designers do it: Michael Kors practically built his empire on copies. This sucks. Greed always does prevail. So gross. 

** I especially call out Ivanka Trump for copying the work of a SMALL designer. So below the belt.

6.8.14

2 Summer Jamz. SWAG

Obviously. My favorite part of "Summertime is Great" is when they are both on the bridge and they turn for no reason. 

2.8.14

OH MY GOD BLAKE LIVELY'S NEW WEBSITE WHAT THE FFFFAAAAARM-TO-TABLE


Allow us to be so bold as to posit that a barbecue is an inherently medieval affair. From where do we arrive at this conclusion? Pray consider it, dear reader: the customary American cookout is a fundamentally Gothic idea, updated with modern values and cuisine. The gathering involves communal seating, shared plates, festive music and fire-prepared victuals shoved into food-messed face-holes sans cutlery. With those same descriptors, one harkens back to ye days of olde, to the court of Richard the Lionheart, to the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, to Lords and Ladies locked in scenes of chivalry.

Preparations for the fĂȘte champĂȘtre1 hatch in the spirit of simplicity: Bid some courtly dudes and dope-looking damsels hither, stock the larder with beauteous burgers (beef, turkey or veggie), augment the ale supply and call forth a noble disc jockey.


Maidens and squires arrive at their leisure, on their own time, with their own ideas about how the feast shall unfurl. Some are here to court the opposite (or same) sex—it is summer, after all—some to tipple, some to sup. There are rule-followers, regulators, rebels. Some are husking corn dutifully while others regale the group with over-embellished tales. A wily knave is oft climbing a tree while a newly minted Lord ‘n Lady lay in the grass betwixt the thickets, bashful in the afternoon glow of the late summer sun.

At once structured and chaotic, the great American BBQ is, indubitably, a rollicking repast. To create such a wicked wassail²demands, first and foremost, a cast of characters as colorful and damned as Dante ever envisioned.

Firstly, consider the SUMMONER, our noble host. His or her foremost duty is to implore the guests that they may gather at a particular time and place. As a tithe to their invitation of daylong indulgence, the Summoner may demand supermarket stops for last-minute necessities. “Fetch me alluring ales, sparkling sips, cheese puffs,” he or she requests via smartphone text message, “marshmallows for s’mores and a bag of baked goods to boost our bounty of buns.”

The feudal Lord of the event is the GRILL MASTER. Sought-after and highly esteemed, this individual reigns supreme over the communal oven. Engaged in the smoky, primitive drama of an open flame, they place each hunk of well-chosen bellytimber on the grate just so, ensuring that each marvelous meaty morsel is neither too pink nor too charred.

Our villain, the TROUBADOUR (in modern parlance, Mister DJ) approaches his task with all requisite seriousness, with nary a token of regard for the sonorous inclinations of others. A fair damsel doth seek mellow music to accompany her meal? Let’s try Yoko Ono on eleven. Too much? John Cage at mid-volume then. What, you don’t like avant-electroacoustic? Okay fine, Laura Nyro. There, everybody’s happy.

As the festivities reach their zenith, knights and knaves, jesters and jezebels, maidens and wenches claim their seats at a long wooden table in the backyard-cum-feasting hall, tearing into large portions of flavorful fleshes and vivacious vegetables doused in sensory overload inducing spices and sauces. Surreptitiously spiked punches are imbibed, corn is stuck in teeth, seconds and thirds and fourths and fifths are had. All assembled speak in the vernacular about the pressing Instagram-based concerns of the moment.

Fireflies appear as dusk descends. Grogs are guzzled, desserts devastated, and sparklers begin to scintillate. But first, the SUMMONER turns down the tunes, raises a glass and reminds the beautiful and unruly crew what a fine olde tyme this day has been. All may drink once more to midsummer’s magic. The gracious grasp the notion that it’s time to get the eff out. Ne’er do wells linger with the lightening bugs, weariness be damned.

When I saw this on Entertainment Weekly, I THOUGHT IT WAS A JOKE. HAAAAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA. No way. NO WAAY someone actually wrote this and thought they were being funny-smart-hipster. Holy crap. 

31.7.14

The Latest from Fatima Al Qadiri: Maybe Fabulous Sino-Babble Maybe Transportative Hyper-Urban Fantasy Chinimatic

So expansive, haunting, weirdly glamorous. I especially love the sad ascent-to-heaven-ish Sinead O'Connor cover in fake Mandarin**. Super cool. I would expect nothing less from Kuwait's best experimental musician. Well I guess she is more international than Kuwaiti but still! Listen to the rest on Spotify.
#fangirl

** okay apparently some youtube commenter says it's not fake Chinese. 

30.7.14

Why Gulf Designers Fail to Make it Internationally: Some Tips on How to Improve

WARNING: If you are easily offended, please do not read this. I am in no way, shape or form trying to bash anyone. I have received much tough love myself and it really helps to grow. It was only when my professors in college told me my essays were "crap" and had me in tears asking where I received my (crap) education that I stayed up all night to write something really fantastic. It's only when someone told me I was terrible that I found it in me to try my hardest. I don't intend to make people feel bad, I am not a nasty person who wants to hate on innocent young designers. In fact, I would like to feel proud of the designers we have here, but I feel they have a long way to go and no one to say it to them. I just want to point out the obvious truth to help maybe someone out there realize that they need to try harder to reach the top. It is meant as an encouragement, not an insult. I am speaking from experience. 

This is not attacking brands that are do not follow my personal taste, I address basic requirements for luxury designs that are core values of the industry. 


It's such a shame. If you just glance at the Gulf in relation to design talent you will find 4 obvious facts:
1) We have a lot of money starving artists do not have to begin our own projects
2) We have no taxes.
3) We have a relatively small and encouraging retail environment for luxury brands.
4) Khaleejis spend money on luxury products and are always on the lookout for novelty.

Two questions:
1. Why isn't there a single Khaleeji who has made it/has the potential to make it at an international level?
2. And why do we have such a horrible reputation abroad for being "sack-of-money designers" with no taste, quality, innovation or longevity?

There are three criteria for creating luxury fashion goods:

1) Directional Design: This is NOT an option. If you are  fashion designer, you are a leader not a follower. You create trends, you do not follow them. That is what Zara is for. You need an idea that does not include cliches. Meaning you need to think about it.

2) EX-E-CUTION: FIT. CAPABILITY TO HANDLE MATERIALS. PERFECT FINISHING. This is the biggest problem Khaleeji designers have. Your local tailor shop guy does not have the capability to sew a 1000 KD garment.

3) Self-criticism and Accepting Criticism From Others: You are never as amazing as you think you are. If ten customers tell you dress sucks, it's not because they're jealous. Your dress sucks.

I was watching this talk from Fashion Forward Dubai and loved Caterina Minthe from Style.com. Guns out.
When the interviewer asked basically what the problem is with Khaleeji designers she mentioned that they cannot handle criticism and live in a very congratulatory environment. Every one claps, every one buys, and they still suck. TRUE.

Lets go in reverse:

3) We live in places where criticism is taken as a form of personal attack. I don't think I even need to say this, you all already know. Criticism cannot be taken as a valid complaint but a case of you vs me. Khaleeji leaders/politicians do it, Khaleeji parents do it (how many lazy ass kids in your high school had their parents blame the teacher for their bad grades), and our Khaleeji friends do it.

If you find something wrong with a designer, you can't mention them by name because everyone will be like "BUT HOW COULD YOU MENTION HER NAME... BLA BLA... REPUTATION... BLA BLA DONT BE A BITCH" ... and then you're the bad guy.

... Jeeeez guys, calm down! It might actually encourage the girl to change something! You'll never go to the gym if the mirror shows you a picture of Candice Swanepoel instead of yourself every morning.

If a store won't take your stuff because your stuff is BAD, then obviously it's the stores fault. The buyer is a huge bitch and really snobbish. Plus its probably because "shayfa nafsha and hates your friend" or something. Obviously not because your clothes are BAD. No way, man.

--BTW just because some celebrity wore your clothes doesn't mean your clothes are good, it means you paid your PR. That does not mean your clothes will sell--

2) FINISHING. I have never (and I mean this like 100 thousand percent from the bottom of my heart) NEVER seen good finishing on the clothes or accessories of a Khaleeji brand. The fit has always been wrong, the cuts have always been bad, and the finishing touches were completely inappropriate for clothes sold in the luxury category. Even the ones in magazines, even the ones who won competitions. Even the ones who participated in the Dubai Vogue Italia event. ALL.

The second reason for shoddy finishing is laziness. Khaleeji designers never feel they need to make their best effort because everyone is so easily impressed! Or fake-impressed.

Notes for my fellow designers:

A) You are making clothes for a body, not a giant hotdog. Your pattern-making needs to be top-level. Make sure the waist is in the right place and doesn't fall or gape, make sure the ruching doesn't accidentally make your hips look enormous, make sure your proportions are right, make sure the front doesn't fit too tight on the chest area, make sure your seams are in the right places, make sure the zippers do what they're supposed to, make sure the arm holes are well calculated, make sure the girl can WALK etc etc. If you are making shoes, your pattern-making needs to be luxury-level. Choose the right (luxury) lasts, make sure the toe spring is not too high the heel is walkable and dead center. Make sure you outsole is not bumpy, all your proportions are technically correct and that any straps you have were placed in the correct places so as to not create irritation. For bags, make sure everything is attached properly, functional, proportional and moves properly.

B) If you have embroidery, make sure it is done in the correct way on the right fabric. Not all fabric works with all types of embroidery. The final product is not the same as the sketch. If you do heavy embroidery incorrectly on delicate silks and organzas, it WILL bunch up (the fabric around will bend and pop out). And your stuff will look cheap.
C) Make sure you size properly.
D) Make sure your seams are properly finished. If you are doing raw edge because its part of the style, okay. Otherwise, be cognizant of luxury edge finishing methods. And do it well.
E) If you are using hardware, make sure it is up to the level of your product and make sure it will not destroy the balance of the garment/accessory.
F) You materials have to be sourced well. Going to the fabric souk won't cut it. You need to either do your research on international fabric fairs or source your fabrics somewhere special (where you can guarantee exclusivity and will have a constant supply. Your materials need to echo the prices you are proposing. This does not mean it should all be silk and velvet, but make sure the feel great, they don't fade quickly and offer something special for your customers. For leathers, you need to go to Linea Pelle to place orders and learn to differentiate between leathers and how to use them. Not all leathers are created equal and not all leather can be used for all products, technically speaking.
G) Make sure ALL components of your product contribute to making your product a LUXURY product, on par with other LUXURY brands from abroad in the same price range. Hold yourself up to high standards.

Production wise, you either need to have an excellent facility in your Khaleeji home country, or find a GOOD factory abroad (through trustworthy contacts familiar with the needs of a luxury label) to produce for you.

1) Do you have new and interesting ideas? Are you sure? If you say yes then go ahead, start your brand. If you are not sure (and are inspired primarily by Audrey Hepburn and your grandmother or Alexander Wang, actually) then NOPE. The fashion world is crowded and doesn't need more of the same.
Do you have a strong idea of the girl you want to dress in mind? Where does she shop? Where does she travel, what dos she do? What does she read? Who does she hang out with?
If you say "luxury-loving rich girl with a fabulous life", NOPE (or go join Philip Plein). Think about why you want to design. What do you need to express. Why are you so special and why should I spend my money on your stuff?


I have seen so many brands crop up in recent years that aim international but all are so derivative it's hard not to roll ones eyes. There are some with potential: not bad quality, great fabrics, etc but I have yet to see something that blows my mind like St. Martins or Antwerp graduate shows. I have yet to see someone who is willing to break barriers instead of adhere to traditional visions of femininity (whether the Hepburnesque or Beyonce-esque) or avant-garde-ism (traditional avant-gardism sounds like an oxymoron but it's not), someone who can channel the subversive to create a something truly new. You can say there is nothing new under the sun and every designer gets inspiration from something a predecessor has done. You wouldn't be entirely wrong, but these designers do not copy. They find an emotion that is uniquely their own and create a world for it through their design, even though they might use techniques or hemlines used in the past. I want to see one collection from a Khaleeji designer and be like WOW, that was different/that moved me. Never happened. I get it, pastels and feathers are in. Does not mean you need to give me a poorly-made and blinged-out reproduction of Louis Vuitton's Carousel collection. I get it, you love evening gowns and duchesse satin. Hello Ralph and Russo. You love print. So do Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto and a million brands whose stuff looks better than yours. You need to start somewhere, so make sure that somewhere is your own. And that it's damn good. 



One more thing: just because you are an Arab designer does not mean you need to use chma8, Arabesques and Calligraphy. I think I will faint if I see one more collection "inspired" by any of the above. It's SO. BORING. Being Arab does not mean that you can't possibly find another source of inspiration besides your Arab identity. The world is a big place. Get inspired.

You need ideas. Fashion isn't about you. It's not about getting invited to parties or street style or being fabulous baby moon-cake kiss kiss instagram. Its about the product. Fashion runs on product and if you can't deliver, or if you are not motivated to spend most of the year up all night stressed out over every single detail of your clothes, accounting, pricing, trade shows, sales, PR, strategies, relationships with buyers, finishings, delivery windows, production delays, production issues, suppliers etc etc. then you are not cut out for it.
If you have doubts following this list of problems you will have, don't even try.

You have to love it with everything you have.


It is only if you satisfy these basic criteria can you come out with PRODUCT. This is saying nothing about actually selling the clothes, which needs excellent foundational planning, a great marketing strategy, contacts, luck and a lot of hustle.

Advantages and Disadvantages: We have many advantages (MONEY AND EASY LOANS ARE A HUGE DEAL) here in the Khaleej but we also have disadvantages. It is hard to get internships at foreign companies because of visa issues. The solution for this is to offer yourself to smaller brands for free and tell them you'll be in and out on a tourist visa so they don't have to do paperwork. You want the experience, not the documentation. It's hard to get the right tools to produce here. Okay, go abroad. Through your experience with the foreign company make contact with manufacturers who produce at your desired level. Don't think producing in Kuwait/Saudi/Qatar is gona cut it. It won't. Ever. Make sure you can translate your core idea/identity over several seasons and make sure that you are in it for the long run. How many rich-kid brands have you seen go up in a blaze of PR and burn down after 1-2 seasons? Don't be just some stupid rich kid designer. PLEASE don't be one more embarrassment in the graveyard of Khaleeji un-talent. We have enough of those. Make sure you are capable of magic before you go to Hogwarts.