Young, Arab and Proud

“The Arab DNA is Made of Triumph and Invention”

Bilal Fellah (Port Tanger), FTA Prize winner in the Accessories Category, answers Pulse’s Young, Arab and Proud questionnaire.

“It’s a blessing and you don’t expect it, sometimes it’s like an arranged marriage and sometimes it’s like a honeymoon, and it’s just one of those nights where it feels like a honeymoon. I’m really happy for my team, and for my partner and wife, who is always supporting me visually on the brand aesthetic. I think without the support I have from my team, my brand would not be at the level it is right now. Obviously the design is very important and the manufacturer is great, but we also need to put together so many pieces, and the Prize will help us to further expand the brand and its operations.”

Those were the words of Bilal Fellah when Pulse asked him how he feels and what’s next, right after winning the Fashion Trust Arabia Prize for the Accessories Category with his brand Port Tanger last week, on the 3rd of November. The Moroccan-Algerian designer is now more than ready to spread his (large) wings all over the fashion planet.

Pulse talks to… Bilal Fellah

What is the one thing you wish people would stop wearing?
Havaianas.

What creation of yours are you most proud of?
The Ayreen and the Yamina are my favorite designs.

What was your worst fashion faux-pas?
I have none presently, maybe haircuts in my teens.

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?
Ivory pants and a white top with solid black shoes.

Who do you dream of dressing?
I dream of dressing everyday people who have a sensitivity for beauty.

When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter?
In Doha, going over some lucid talk after the awards ceremony with my friends and family. My mother [finally] believed my job was an actual job.

Name five people, dead or alive, that you’d like to invite to a private dinner party at your house.
Hakim Archuletta, James Baldwin, Jacques Marie Mage, Um Kulthum, Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem.

What does the word “sustainability” mean to you?
Sustainability means a self service system that aligns with the laws of nature.

What would the title of your Netflix documentary be?
What is your Netflix password.

Describe the MENA region in 3 words.
Woven, connected, beautiful.

How is “Young, Arab and Proud” translated in your work?
I think I try not to be proud, but I believe our principles are beautiful. They are rooted in beauty and family values.

What is Arab DNA made of?
Triumph and invention.

What is the most common misconception about being an Arab?
That we are not inclusive, that our hearts are not open.

If you could travel in time to meet any Arab icon, who would it be, and why?
Ibn Battuta, our Marco Polo

What is something that makes you uncomfortable in the MENA fashion industry and that you would like to see changed?
Its forceful tactics to translate progressive ideas.

How is the gender-neutral trend translated in MENA fashion?
Unfortunately, gender neutrality has been reduced to a trend when it should not be. To be fluid with the qualities of masculinity and femininity are intrinsic to life, it is not the passive state that the public seems to treat it as. I hope we evolve out of this framework into appreciating the delicacy of nature and who we are as individuals without imposing ephemeral ideas.

Nevertheless, I appreciate open-mindedness and more open hearts despite the reductions of our time.

What is one Arab tradition you would want to change, and what is one you adore?
I feel something I would like to change is the nuance of approaching things gently and calmly.

I love how we show the generosity of our hearts.

What Arab dish you could eat every day?
Khunafa

What is your favorite Arabic song, one that is often stuck on repeat on your playlist?
Khallik Belbeit, by Fairuz

Um Kulthum or Fairuz?
Um Kulthum!

What is the one city in the MENA region you could live in forever, and why?
Tangier, even though one city is too singular for me, so let’s say a piece of land, growing life on it and caring for some animal will do.