As modern as our region is, it’s also home to centuries of wonderful heritage. Of late, there has been a resurgence of deep-rooted culture in fashion form. Emerging designer Zaid Farouki is decidedly bridging modernity with
tradition in the most artistically, conversation starting, ways…
What’s your background, how did you get to where you are now?
I have roots in five Arab countries, I am an Arab and I am also an American. I have always wanted to become a fashion designer. When it came to the idea of applying to universities and picking my major, I was told that as long as I got a degree in Business I could do whatever I wanted afterwards. So that is exactly what I did and I moved to Washington DC and attended the American University and majored in Business Administration with a Marketing concentration but I always felt that I wasn’t feeding my artistic side enough. I then enrolled myself in art classes and also added a Studio Art minor, which included painting, sculpting, and multimedia. I also started my own fashion blog zaiddor.com. In my final year in DC, I applied to Istituto Marangoni in Milan and I got in. At that point, I knew that’s where I was meant to be and what I was meant to do. After receiving my degree in Fashion Design I moved to London and attended Central Saint Martin and took specialised courses in couture techniques and embroidery as well as hand painting.
What are we supposed to think and feel when we see your work?
The aim is to change the way we consume art and to allow you to wear your art collection rather than keeping it at home.
What kind of woman do you see wearing your designs?
Imagine my woman as an urban woman, powerful, appreciates art and the finer things in life. After a day of meetings and socialising, she heads back to her penthouse to change to attend the most talked about event of the season. That woman is not shy of herself or the power she demands. She wants to be visible, not in a provocative way but her presence will be counted for – classiness is a subtleness that is key.
Do you see your work as creations more than clothes?
Yes, I do view them as creations, as I produce one-off pieces. With each piece, there is a story and thought process behind it. Moreover, every detail incorporated into the creation holds a certain significance.
Are you more fashion over functionality?
No matter how dramatic the piece is, I always make sure it can be worn in a comfortable way.
Do your loyalties lie with modernity or history when it comes to your pieces, or do you mix it up?
A mix of course, I love seeing a woman wearing a creation that looks modern but infused into it layers of art, teachings, and heritage creating this modern identity celebrating the wearers thoughts, ideas, and culture.
Are you drawn to art?
Creating is my way of life. If people classify it as art, then I breath, live and eat art.
Unpack Dripping Amends for us – what’s it all about?
While creating the Dripping Amends collection, I Imagined a woman of contemporary values walking through the hallways of a 16th century châteaux. As she explores the estate throughout the night, with nothing other than candles lighting her path and wax dripping onto her clothes, she emerges a different woman.
Who are your own style heroines?
Strong, independent women. I draw a lot of inspiration from the women in my life, especially my mother.
Which designers do you feel represent the best of fashion at the moment?
The femininity of Elie Saab, the charismatic woman of Dolce & Gabbana, the timeless elegance that Karl Lagerfeld suggests in Chanel, the creativity of Hussein Chalayan and Iris Van Herpen.
You showcased recently during Dubai Fashion Forward – how was that for you?
Fashion Forward was the platform that allowed me to showcase my work to the world, as I launched my debut collection in October 2016. I have participated twice already as it is the leading regional platform.
“I love seeing a woman wearing a creation that looks modern but infused into it layers of art, teachings, and heritage creating this modern identity celebrating their thoughts, ideas, and culture”
You recently also launched your first atelier in Dubai. How is the scene for you compared to the U.S. and London?
Although I had lived abroad at that point for seven years and didn’t consider moving back to the region, I knew deep down that no matter where I’d go I will be Arab and I would therefore embrace my identity and celebrate it by believing in it and becoming part of a cause bigger than myself in putting the region on the design map. Launching in Dubai has allowed me to start my company in very little time. Furthermore, it allowed me to achieve certain milestones I would not have been able to achieve abroad. The scene is still small compared to London and the US, but we are growing as we have fashion conscious trendy consumers, with many regional rising talents to fulfil this crave for fashion.
Where do you see the Middle Eastern fashion scene going?
We come from a region that has the great financial ability to influence the fashion industry throughout the world. Arabs, being one of the largest consumers of fashion in the world, allow us to fulfil one part of an ecosystem, where the buyers are present. On the other hand, fashion designers are needed to complete the whole circle. We have talents that are proving themselves day by day, talents that are reaching global recognition.