It’s with a very important and burgeoning category, Debut Talent, that we begin our series of take overs with the FTA 2022 Prize finalists.

So, we asked the Lebanese Claudia Khachan, the Yemeni Kazna Asker, the Moroccan Mohammed El Marnissi and the Algerian Rayana Boulila to film themselves while they showed us their signature piece, told us about their favorite city in the MENA region and talked about the designers who inspire them and about their expectations when they travel to Qatar in October for the Prize event. We also asked them to tell us, in three words, how their relatives describe them.

Here are their answers…

THE SIGNATURE PIECE

For Claudia Khachan (Saint Balech), it’s all about her teenage years and friendship. “My friends gave me their old band shirts so I could create my signature piece, the band shirt body suit. This piece really represents my collection,” she says.

Kazna Asker’s signature piece is her tracksuit abaya and matching jacket. “This piece combines my British upbringing with my Yemeni heritage and religion. It makes me proud because it is specifically designed for Muslim hijabi women, women who inspire me every day,” said the designer.

The sequin pants that he created for his graduation collection are Mohammed El Marnissi’s signature piece, “These pants are inspired by the 70’s, they are of course handmade, with thousands of stones and sequins, it’s a real piece of craftsmanship.”

Rayana Boulila’s signature piece is her Venus dress, that combines a bra and a dress. “It sublimates and reveals the body,” says Boulila.

INSPIRATION

Claudia Khachan doesn’t have one specific fashion designer who inspires her. “In fact, I’m mainly inspired by my friends, by people in the streets. Faces inspire me!” she says.

For Kazna Asker, it’s Virgil Abloh, without any hesitation, “He used fashion to create a platform to represent his community, he really inspires me to provide a voice for my people!”

Mohammed El Marnissi names Yves Saint Laurent, the iconic French designer who was in love with Morocco, a country that often inspires him for his collections, “YSL’s colorful silhouettes, the beautiful details, the craftsmanship… I would love one day to have the same impact on society…” he says.

Finally, Rayana Boulila reveals that the two fashion designers who inspire her are the Tunisian-French couturier and shoe designer Azzedine Alaïa and the French Fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler.

WHEN IN QATAR

Claudia Khachan is looking forward to visiting Qatar in October, “I’ve never been there, I’m sure it will be a great experience for me to share my work and enjoy my time.”

Kazna Asker is “excited” to meet more Arab fashion designers during FTA’s event, saying, “I’m happy to showcase my work in the Middle East and to represent Yemen!”

Mohammed El Marnissi is looking forward to meeting and connecting with “a lot” of new people in the fashion industry. “I want to show them my vision and what I’m capable of…,” he says.

Rayana Boulila feels very honored to have been invited to Qatar in October. “I want them to discover who I am through my collection, that speaks about commitment and claim. I also want feedback and advice from the great professionals I am going to meet, and I hope to get the chance to develop new projects in Algeria,” she says.

THE CITY

Claudia Khachan’s favorite city in the MENA region is Beirut. “For me, Beirut is a question mark, a mystery in itself and my inspiration for any future project,” she says.

Kazna Asker names Cairo as her favorite Arab city, “because it’s multicultural and diverse, and because my family lives there.”

“My favorite city in the MENA region is a charming magical city, with lots of culture and enchanting gardens, it always blows me away. It’s of course Marrakech,” says Mohammed El Marnissi.

Rayana Boulila names Tipaza, for “its memorable places, its Roman ruins”, and for everything she does there with her family.

THE THREE WORDS

Claudia Khachan: “They say I’m dynamic, generous and unpredictable.”

Kazna Asker: “They say I’m smiling, compassionate and creative.”

Mohammed El Marnissi: “They say I’m sociable, ambitious and passionate.”

Rayana Boulila: “They say I’m spontaneous, a dreamer and persistent.”