The young shawerma loving fashion designer, Mariem Adel, loves empowering women through making bold fashion choices. She blends retro feels with sexy vibes and loves everything vintage. We sat with her for an interview and were surprised to know that she isn’t yet proud of any of her collections, as she always feel like she can do better. Who doesn’t love a humble and modest person, right? She’s 22 years old and works with her hands from A to Z, which is definitely something that’s hard to find these days. She finds inspiration in old eras, movies, songs, nature and her imagination. Read on to learn about her journey, and what it’s really like to start out so young in the Egyptian fashion industry.
1- When did your love for fashion and fashion designing begin and what sparked it?
I’ve always loved fashion ever since I was young as my childhood dream was to become a model. I’ve always imagined myself walking down the runway wearing beautiful gowns and looking confident. But then I found myself interested in what happens backstage, so my love for fashion transformed into a passion for creating the beautiful gowns I’ve longed to wear myself. At 16, I designed my first dress. It was a dress for the occasion of my birthday, and all my friends loved it. Some of them even hired me (without pay) as their go-to fashion consultant! Not long after that, I dropped my major and decided to study fashion instead.
2- Where did you study fashion design? Also, you have never worked for anyone else so what was it like launching your own label straight away?
I studied fashion design and pattern making at the Italian Fashion Academy for 3 years then I continued to take private pattern classes and draping with Nancy El Sayed and Shady Mohsen; both are great fashion instructors. It felt absolutely “right” and that everything was falling into place when I launched my first collection before graduating from the academy. It gave me the confidence boost I needed and allowed me to explore the fashion world in a short time, especially at such a young age when the majority of the students usually start launching their collections after graduating.
3- How would you describe your brand? And what kind of women would wear your designs?
Vintage fashion has always inspired me, but now that we live in a modern world, vintage doesn’t always work. What I aim to do is let the simplicity and elegance of vintage inspire me then add my own touch of sexy and modern. Basically, I preserve the classiness of the old and spice it up with the fierceness of the new. My brand is all about the sharp cuts, pattern fabrics and catchy colors. I believe that every color deserves to be worn, so I always try to combine different fabrics and colors. I design clothes for confident women who struggle to show the contradicting sides of their personality. Who says you can’t be feminine and edgy or soft and bold or simple and yet daring?
4- What is your favorite part about fashion design?
It’s that I can find inspiration wherever I look. I find muses in nature, in a fleeting feeling, in a person, in a place or a product. I turn drafts on pieces of paper to actual dresses that people wear, and that in my eyes is the closest thing I’ll ever feel to being a magician.
5- What’s your least favorite part about being a fashion designer?
I wouldn’t say there is any regarding being a fashion designer in general, but there is something I dislike about being a fashion designer in Egypt. Most people here can’t differentiate between a tailor and a fashion designer. I would like to make it clear that they’re not the same. The fashion designer is the one who comes up with the idea of the piece and knows what suits your body type and what doesn’t. The tailor is the one who sews on what the designer has created. People shouldn’t go to a fashion designer and ask them to copy a dress that doesn’t even suit them from some picture they got off the Internet. I really get that a lot, and like I always tell them: Go to a tailor instead.
6- You have participated in the DHL Fashion Competition. What was that like?
The DHL competition brings back fun memories as I got to meet lovely designers whom I admire. The best part about the competition was that it pushed us to the edge of creativity and made us think outside the box, or even eliminate the box altogether.
7- Tell us about your first runway, your collections and your latest project.
I did my first runway at Cairo Fashion Festival Season 4 and it was a great opportunity for me to jumpstart my career. My first collection was royally inspired and my second collection, “Previous Distraction”, was all about reinventing vintage. I worked day and night on it as I did everything from scratch myself.
My latest fashion project was a national costume for Miss Egypt Tourism Queen 2016/2017 which took place in China. At the moment, I’m working on launching a ready to wear line very soon as well as a paper wedding dress for the Wedding Carnival Show, which will take place on the 17th of February.
8- Would you ever consider designing men’s wear?
Who knows? Maybe. Never say no, right? I would love to try designing men’s wear at some point, but not right now.
9- Who would you say is your biggest supporter?
My family and friends for sure, but I would like to give a special shout out to my fiancé because he is definitely my biggest supporter. He pushes me to go forward, to never give up and keep working hard. He never misses any of my shows, even the boring ones, and never once complains.