Now that we’ve disclosed the identity of the 24 finalists of the 2022 Fashion Trust Arabia Prize, let’s continue to dig a little deeper and discover exactly who they are. After the Ready-to-Wear and the Accessories nominees, today will be devoted to an ever-competitive and scrutinized category: The Debut Talent Prize. Competing this year are Lebanese Claudia Khachan, Yemeni Kazna Asker, Moroccan Mohammed El Marnissi and Algerian Rayana Boulila.
Here, we’ll discover why they decided to apply to this year’s FTA Prize, and uncover everything about their relationship with fashion, how they think about it and how they see the industry as a whole.
Who will succeed the unforgettable Abdelgader El Tayeb, the winner of last year’s edition? The pressure is already on!
CLAUDIA KHACHAN: “THERE IS NOT ENOUGH COLLABORATION BETWEEN DESIGNERS IN THE MENA REGION.”
1/ What pushed you to send in your submission to this year’s FTA Prize? What do you expect from this experience?
Towards the end of my third and final year of my studies, after sharing my work among my personal circles, my dearest teachers and friends pushed me and encouraged me to submit to FTA and to share my work with a bigger audience. Even though I was a bit hesitant and nervous, I really wanted to share my experience, and this is when I took the decision to do so. I don’t expect anything, I really just want to enjoy this journey while being happy and grateful to be able to grow in this direction and I hope my work will touch people.
2/ What was the first object related to fashion (a piece of clothing, jewelry, an accessory…) that dazzled you when you were a kid, and why?
When I was 12 years old, I discovered a small room in the basement of my grandmother’s house filled with 35 x 15cm rectangle boxes, stacked one on top of the other. I opened one of them and found a red tie. I knew my grandfather ran his own tie atelier back in the 80’s and I knew his business was affected by the [Lebanese] Civil War, and he almost went out of business; but I had no idea that his pieces were still stored in the basement until that day. This red tie made me ask a lot of questions.
This is how my curiosity as a 12-year-old grew into a passion, and later dedication, to the fashion world.
3/ What was the trigger that made you realize that you wanted to be a fashion designer and nothing else?
Growing up in a very strict school, we were all dressed the same. I wanted to experiment and I loved having fun at home, in my room, dressing up and imagining being someone I really wanted to be when I grew up. With the debut of the Internet era, I was mesmerized, I could finally share these characters I used to create for myself with the world, all through a screen.
As a shy teenager, I had one goal, reinventing myself and deconstructing the codes by which we live, which was hard to do at the time. Fashion was, and still is, my answer.
4/ Which fashion designer, Arab or international, inspired you, and why?
Martin Margiela is one of the designers who inspired me a lot, and still inspires me every day, not through his garments themselves, but through his way of thinking about a garment throughout its making. He personally made me rethink fashion as a whole.
5/ What is the one thing you wish people would stop wearing?
I wish people would stop wearing clothes they don’t really love, feel comfortable in, or relate to.
6/ What was your worst fashion faux-pas?
My worst fashion faux-pas was following a trend instead of following my personal taste.
7/ If you were to choose one of your looks, or that of any other designer, to wear every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
I don’t really have a specific look in mind at the moment, but all I can think of is a comfortable 5XL T- Shirt and red boots that I would wear every day.
8/ Who do you dream of dressing?
I dream of dressing the people who inspired me growing up. Mainly singers and musicians I grew up listening to.
9/ What does the word “sustainability” mean to you?
Sustainability, for me, starts with carefully and wisely making choices on how or why the product is going to be produced, thinking about the material to be used and its cost to make.
Born in 2000, I grew up in a world where things were changing so fast around me, I had to rethink and find alternatives to the way things were. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. To me, choices such as upcycling, reusing deadstock fabrics and by locally sourcing and producing garments, is what sustainability is about. It’s a must, a need.
10/ What is something that makes you uncomfortable in the MENA fashion industry and that you would like to see changed?
I’d like to see less competition and more collaboration between designers in the MENA region. I believe that today, more than ever, it is important to grow in unity while keeping the uniqueness of each and every one of us, so that the MENA fashion industry keeps on flourishing.