Talents from Saudi Arabia, be it male or female, both are making waves in the fashion world in different ways. They are bringing on their own ‘indigenous elements’ to fashion dominated by the so-called Western paradox. And the best part is that it appeals to the fashion fraternity as they are always on the lookout for something distinctive in style.
One such innovative individual is Riyadh-based fashion designer Arwa Al Ammari, founder of ArAm and winner of Grazia Style Award for Emerging Talent, March 2014, who thinks fashion for her is not only an art but also a way to express her views quite openly. In fact, she is a woman of many words that just encapsulate what she is capable of. She has been in love with arts in its so many types since her childhood.
She kept moving all the way and started designing her own outfits which all of a sudden captured the eyes of people around her who later showed interest in her designs and wanted to get the same and the circle started to grow constantly. “At that point I decided to refine my talent and passion by joining a fashion academy,” she says.
Learning the Art of Fashion
Though Ammari studied public policy, planning and financing and holds a Master degree from London School of Economics and Political Science in addition to an MBA from University of Leicester, UK, she dug into the artistic genes that she inherited from her parents who also have an artistic side in their heart and soul. Her story with art started a long time ago, which her parents realized at an early stage.
“Every summer they used to enroll me in art courses abroad. I took courses in different schools in the US and UK including oil painting, sculpting, sketching, photography and so on,” she says. To make her foothold in the fashion industry, she joined a French fashion school “ESMOD” to study fashion design in its entirety. “The courses that I did earlier along with my passion for arts also shaped up my artistic vision and taste,” explains Ammari.
What Makes ArAm Stand Out?
Since the launch of her brand ArAm a year ago, it has succeeded in influencing the KSA women’s proclivity for fashion in a big way. And they are enjoying it with open arms. Describing what makes her designs stand out, she said, “My brand has 4 elements that give them an advantage. The designs are feminine, classy, contemporary and memorable. With this mantra by my side, I am aiming to bring back or showcase femininity in a contemporary and classy form by cuts and color combinations that are just catchy and memorable,” she says.
The other thing making her designs so unique has its roots deeply etched in her heritage. “Being a Saudi designer who comes from the heart of this region and having lived in Dubai gives me an advantage by being able to understand the norms, culture, heritage and social fabric of the people in this region,” explains Ammari.
Moreover, she believes, being highly exposed to the global village, as an avid traveler who visited more than 25 different countries in 4 continents and living abroad enabled her to appreciate other societies, legacies, backgrounds, civilizations, and their arts and history. “This is what I’m trying to reflect in ArAM’s designs,” she exclaims.
Her Latest Collection
“The latest collection of mine titled “Tea Time at ArAm” is inspired by traditional English tea parties flavored with a hint of the 50s and 60s styles and all the magic of wonderland tales.” She knows what type of women will be going mad after seeing her collections. “Women who like to look elegant and turn heads while moving in crowd. I’m always flattered to hear my clients’ feedback. When they wear my designs they feel so feminine and get compliments even by people who don’t know them yet admire their looks,” she says.
Each individual is known to be familiar with things that inspire them in countless ways. So Ammari is no exception but certainly has great taste. “My greatest sources of inspiration are travel, architectural and historical landmarks, and art pieces,” she says. “I get moved by paintings and sculptures. I absorb the natural sceneries; assimilate the color combinations and preferences of different societies and all of these along with other cultural aspects such as music and heritage get reflected in my designs.”
When it comes to fabrics and colors, she makes sure they really gel well with the theme of her collection. As she puts it this way, “Personally I like strong colors that have a statement. In terms of my designs I work with colors that serve the topic I’m discussing. For example, in “Tea Time at ArAm” collection, I used pastel colors that match the mood of the collection being dreamy. The same rule applies to fabrics. I personally lean towards fabrics that generate texture, but I work with fabrics that serve the designs.”
Her heritage plays an important role in her work. Without it, it would sound completely hollow. She feels it has added a spark to her fashion career a great deal. “At the end of day, fashion design is about a way of expression. It reflects who I am to a certain extent. Where I come from, where I lived, the society surrounding me, my culture, and other elements all of this have impact on the way I design,” she says. “It’s this blend that you can see in my fashion design. It’s also this experience that shapes up my career.”
Her Favorite Celebrities and Her Take on Arab Women’s Taste
She would like her designed pieces to shine on a variety of fashion icons who meet her fashion dreams. They include Sheikha Moza, Carla Bruni, Michelle Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker and Lupita Nyongo. “To me these ladies are some of those who match my view of being fashionable in terms of femininity and elegance,” she says.
“Arab women are picky when it comes to their looks. They pay attention to details, they spend lots of time and effort on their appearance and they are fashion consumers of international brands.” However, she admits, sometimes they are overdoing it. You don’t have to be dressed in designers’ brands from head to toe to look fashionable, or wear the same heavy makeup for work, shopping and evening. “I’m not stereotyping, but I’ve seen many cases that push you to speak up,” she says.
New Products By ArAm
As the brand gets recognized, she will be bringing other items on board like leather goods but particularly shoes. She wants ArAm to be seen as an international brand. “This is what I am planning to reach over the coming five years.”
Along with designing dresses, she believes in looking beautiful without becoming a victim of overindulgence. And she vigorously recommends women to do the same. “I believe that ‘less is more.’ This general rule applies to every aspect when it comes to fashion. Makeup, accessories, matching colors and showing skin, less of all mentioned makes you look classier and much more fashionable,” she suggests.
On a personal note, she believes fashion is the most alive form of art. Imagine putting a soul into your piece of art and make it move when pretty women wear it. However, fashion has more into it than the art element. “I found myself in this world as it reflects my personality. The fashion industry is glamorous and elegant but also vibrant, dynamic, vigorous, challenging and competitive. This world welcomes innovation, creativity and freedom of expression. Moreover, it allows learning every day, meeting new people with new ideas and thoughts. Above all, it allowed me to unleash the entrepreneur inside me,” she admits.