YOUSSRA NICHAN: “IT WOULD BE GREAT TO SEE LESS PRESSURE ON HOW WOMAN SHOULD DRESS IN ARAB COUNTRIES.”
1/ What pushed you to send in your submission to this year’s FTA Prize? What do you except from this experience?
I discovered FTA through Zyne in 2019. At that time I had not yet created Dihyan, I was working in a completely different environment. The incredible story of Zyne and its founders Zineb and Laura inspired me and made me want to jump in and follow my passion. The day Dihyan became eligible to participate in FTA I submitted my application.
Being chosen as a finalist in FTA is a dream come true. It is a great opportunity to celebrate Moroccan craftsmanship and the hard work put into Dihyan from all the parties involved in the creation of our label. It is also an amazing opportunity to take our brand to the next level.
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?
The first object related to fashion that dazzled me as a child, was a Joher necklace (a necklace made of pearls). I’ve never forgotten this traditional henna ceremony that my mother organized for me at the age of 7. I remember being amazed by the white pearls that belonged to her and that she passed on to me, that special moment when it was delicately placed around my neck by her soft and reassuring hands and the Negaffa. I was mesmerized by the moment when my mother’s hands delicately laid down the “Taj”, a tiara that she made for me, on my little head. I felt like a princess with all those jewels and I remember not wanting to take them off. I have always loved jewelry, especially the Moroccan jewelry that I have always worn outside of traditional occasions.
3/ What was the trigger that made you realize that you wanted to be a fashion designer and nothing else?
I never had the courage to make it my career until the [Covid] confinement took place. Shortly after this was the catalyst for my passion. I realized that life was too short and that it was important to seek happiness and do what we love. I decided at 35 years old to change my life and to start creating Moroccan jewelry pieces, to send them from my heart to the world. This was despite some important people in my life not approving. I broke free and succeeded with my call from high above. This was my breakthrough as a woman and what has given me purpose in my life. Today, the ones that thought this was a bizarre idea hold me in great esteem. I encourage all woman and humans to follow their gut and to conspire with what the universe has in hand for them. It is just never too late.
4/ Which fashion designer, Arab or international, inspired you, and why?
Edgardo Osario, the Creative Director of Aquazzura, who said once: “The greatest gift life can give you is to allow you to discover what you love to do. I started Aquazzura when I was years old, with no money and just a suitcase full of shoes and a head full of dreams”. Osario is one of my biggest inspirations. A man who started from humble beginnings, who followed his passion and dreams and made them big. His success, and most of all his humility, are examples that I respect highly.
5/ What is the one thing you wish people would stop wearing?
Micro trends that don’t fit the person’s true sense of style.
6/ What was your worst fashion faux-pas?
Low-rise jeans back in early 2000.
7/ If you were to choose one on 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 would definitely choose an oversized black suit with a cinched waist and big buckles. For me it’s very important to be comfortable, chic and sexy in our daily outfits, and the oversized black suit with the big buckles is for me the ultimate outfit that is sophisticated while remaining simple. Besides, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
8/ Who do you dream of dressing?
9/ What does the word “sustainability” mean to you?
For me the word sustainability refers to three aspects, social impact, economic impact and environmental impact. I think it is very important to be able to create your business while respecting and enhancing these three aspects and creating awareness about how these affect our planet. Whether on a small scale or a large scale, if each one of us were to commit to sustainability we would leave a better world for our children.
10/ What is something that makes you uncomfortable in the MENA fashion industry and that you would like to see change?
I believe that this is a delicate and controversial subject. But one thing I will say is that it would be great to see less pressure on how woman should dress in Arab countries. Both women and men should be able to choose their fashion preferences. I would like to see more freedom in the Arab fashion industry, especially for young girls.