In the realm of global brands, the influence and creativity of Arab women designers cannot be overlooked. These remarkable women have risen to prominence, leaving an indelible mark on the fashion industry. Their journeys are filled with passion, dedication, and a commitment to excellence. From designing exquisite footwear and handbags to crafting awe-inspiring couture and ready-to-wear collections, these visionary designers have redefined elegance and style. Their creations have graced the red carpet, adorned celebrities, and captivated fashion enthusiasts globally. As we celebrate their achievements, let us embrace the diversity and talent they bring, inspiring future generations and fostering a more inclusive and vibrant fashion landscape.
Lebanese designer, Andrea Wazen, discovered her deep passion for sketching and design at a young age. To pursue her aspirations of becoming a designer, she embarked on a journey to Paris and honed her craft at the renowned Istituto Marangoni Italian fashion school. In 2010, Wazen relocated to London, where she had the privilege of training under the guidance of industry-leading footwear brands such as Rupert Sanderson and Christian Louboutin. Inspired by her experiences in these fashion capitals, Wazen’s determination to establish herself as a women’s shoe designer and create her own footwear brand reached its zenith. Today her footwear brand showcases impeccably crafted, handmade shoes of the highest quality, designed in both Italy and Beirut.
Lilian Afshar, the creative mind behind L’Afshar, seamlessly merges the realms of art, architecture, and accessories in her contemporary handcrafted designs. Produced in Dubai, her collections have revolutionized the landscape of evening bags, effortlessly blending fashion-forward aesthetics with sustainable production practices. Originally a designer in the realm of ready-to-wear fashion, Afshar conceptualized the first L’Afshar box clutch while working on her graduation collection in 2013. Driven by the desire to create a compact, modern, and feminine bag that caters to the needs of women worldwide, she combined her passion for accessories and art to bring forth these indispensable accessories for special occasions. These bags, featuring exquisite textures and marble-like finishes, have adorned the arms of numerous celebrities, including Kylie Jenner, Jourdan Dunn, and others.
Lebanese designer Nadine Merabi’s extraordinary journey from an international English hockey player to a globally recognized fashion designer is anything but ordinary. Merabi has taken the industry by storm with her captivating sequin and feather-embellished dresses, jumpsuits, and co-ordinates since the establishment of her brand in 2016. As a self-taught seamstress and businesswoman, Merabi places great emphasis on instilling confidence in women through her creations. Using the finest materials sourced from around the world, she ensures that her collections are crafted to be cherished, collected, and adored, imbuing each piece with heartfelt artistry and meticulous craftsmanship. With an Instagram following of over 1.2 million as of June 2023, the brand has adorned celebrities such as Alix Earle, Claire Rose, and Sofia Vergara.
Marmar Halim, a visionary fashion designer hailing from Egypt, embarked on an incredible journey that led her to become the Creative Director and Founder of the esteemed Marmar Halim Brand. Halim’s story is one of inspiration and an unwavering pursuit of artistic excellence. What sets MARMAR apart is Halim’s inherent attention to detail, comprehensive approach, and boundless imagination. Drawing from a profound foundation in arts and culture, she seamlessly intertwines her artistic influences into the fabric of her fashion designs. Halim’s creations have graced the forms of renowned celebrities such as Georgina Rodríguez, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, and Elizabeth Olsen.
Saudi Arabian fashion designer, Honayda Serafi is the Creative Director for the luxury ready-to-wear brand Honayda. Her designs ardently communicate her deep appreciation for the culture and traditions of her homeland. Notably, Serafi was approached by the Jordanian Royal family to custom design the pre-wedding henna ceremony dress for Prince Hussein bin Abdullah’s wife, Princess Rajwa Al Hussein. The brand has also been embraced by prominent figures such as Priyanka Chopra, Lupita Nyong’o, Shay Mitchell, and Dorra Zarrouk.
Mounaz & Aya Abdelraouf
Born and raised in Cairo, Aya and Mounaz Abdelraouf founders of Okhtein, developed a fascination with fashion from a young age. Learning the intricacies of craftsmanship from local artisans, both sisters were determined to make their mark in the fashion industry, even if it meant attending workshops and immersing themselves in self-guided learning. Mounaz’s adoration for jewelry and handbags propelled her to merge these realms and create small, exquisite occasion bags. On the other hand, Aya’s minimalist aesthetic counterbalances her sister’s affinity for bold and embellished jewelry, resulting in a harmonious blend of styles that reflect their shared passion for the craft. The brand has gained attention from several celebrities, including Olivia Palmero, Joey King, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Beyoncé.
Lebanese-Brazilian designer, Nadine Ghosn, is the founder of the eponymous jewelry label Nadine Ghosn Jewelry, known for its bold shapes, intricate details, and use of high-quality materials. After graduating from Stanford University and pursuing studies at New York’s Gemological Institute of America, Ghosn established her namesake brand in 2015. Her distinctive vision and original designs, characterized by geometric forms, embellishments, and the use of precious stones, set her brand apart from the rest. Her creations have graced fashion icons such as Karl Lagerfeld, Beyoncé, and Drake, further solidifying her reputation in the industry.
Esteemed American Lebanese designer, Norma Kamali began her entrepreneurial journey in 1967 by establishing her own boutique, where she meticulously crafted innovative styles in her sample room and retailed them from her store. The Sleeping Bag Coat, the High Heeled Sneaker, and the Parachute Collection stand as iconic embodiments of Kamali’s extraordinary fashion creations. Notably, Kamali has garnered numerous achievements spanning the realms of fashion, film, interior design, and architecture. Her exceptional contributions to public schools, as recognized by the White House and diverse pro-education organizations, further exemplify her unwavering commitment to excellence. Notable celebrities like Jenifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Selena Gomez, and Katy Perry have all rocked Kamali’s creations.
Iraqi entrepreneur, Huda Kattan, embarked on a beauty journey fraught with complexities, primarily due to her upbringing in a predominantly white community lacking racial diversity. Recounting the challenges she faced as a young brown girl in the South, she felt compelled to conform to an entrenched beauty standard. In 2012, Kattan left her job, where she was unhappy, to pursue a career as a makeup artist, subsequently launching a blog in 2010. The birth of Huda Beauty occurred in 2013 when Kattan, unable to find false eyelashes to her satisfaction, co-founded the renowned brand alongside her two sisters. Today, Huda Beauty boasts a diverse portfolio of over 140 products, ranging from eyeshadow palettes to lip gloss, and generates an impressive annual revenue of approximately $200 million.
Lebanese fashion designer Reem Acra is acclaimed for her breathtaking collections that seamlessly merge ready-to-wear and bridal wear. She harmoniously blends tradition with a contemporary aesthetic, consistently pushing the boundaries of fashion to redefine its essence. Acra, introduced her line, REEM ACRA NEW YORK, in 1997. After establishing a stellar reputation in the bridal market, she expanded her creative horizons to encompass ready-to-wear in 2003. Renowned celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, and Madonna have graced red carpet events, including the Oscars, Grammys, and Golden Globes, adorned in Acra’s exquisite designs.
Sandra Mansour, a Swiss-born Lebanese fashion virtuoso, etched her name in history as the first Arab designer to forge a collaboration with the esteemed Swedish fashion label H&M. In 2010, Mansour established her fashion house in Beirut, assuming the roles of principal designer and chief executive officer. Initially targeting Middle Eastern and European clientele, she extended her brand’s reach by partnering with Moda Operandi, broadening her customer base. Tragically, Mansour’s atelier and home suffered damage during the devastating Beirut explosion in August 2020. Nevertheless, she found solace and hope in witnessing citizens unite on the streets to aid one another. Noteworthy personalities such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Cleo von Adelsheim, and Gigi Hadid have donned Mansour’s creations.
Karen Wazen, renowned for her indomitable spirit as a working mother, embarked on a transformative journey that gave birth to her brand, Karen Wazen Eyewear, Which prides itself on its unparalleled lenses, cutting-edge designs, and an aura of refined elegance. Wazen’s profound affinity for eyeglasses stems from her personal insecurities about the size of her eyes, thus propelling her desire to make a meaningful impact in the eyewear sector. Notably, celebrities such as Dua Lipa, Demi Lovato, and Kourtney Kardashian have been spotted adorning Wazen’s captivating eyewear creations.
French-Algerian fashion, Faiza Bouguessa, is the visionary founder of the esteemed Dubai-based label Bouguessa. Her earliest exposure to garment making occurred during her early years, as she absorbed the fundamentals of knitting and sewing from her grandmother, a skilled seamstress. Bouguessa’s brand revolves around an ethos of minimalist sophistication and feminine elegance, tailored to meet the needs of contemporary women. Merging the latest fashion trends with the principles of modest fashion, Bouguessa draws inspiration from art, architecture, and global culture. Her signature designs emphasize highly modern silhouettes, bold lines, geometric precision, and sharp edges.
Egyptian fashion visionary Sara Onsi has harbored a burning desire for creativity and an eye for detail since she was a child. The debut of her couture collection during New York Fashion Week in 2016 served as a resounding proclamation to the fashion world that Onsi was here to stay. With each passing milestone in her career, she has showcased her collections on international platforms, gracing the stages of London, Paris, and New York Fashion Weeks. Notably, her designs have adorned the red carpets of the esteemed Cannes Film Festival, and she had the honor of dressing Sophia the Robot in 2020.
Iraqi fashion designer, Zeena Zaki, introduced her first fashion atelier in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2003, operating under the label ‘Julea Domani.’ Her creations draw inspiration primarily from her vivid imagination and the vibrant surroundings that have shaped her artistic vision. Zaki attributes her earliest and most influential sources of inspiration to her parents, who fostered a creative environment within their artistic family. With her mother being a fashion designer and her father an ardent art collector and patron, Zaki grew up immersed in a world of art and culture. The brand has dressed notable celebrities, including Lana Del Rey, Kris Jenner, Ciara, Demi Lovato, Khloé Kardashian, and Tyra Banks.
The contributions of these talented women have reshaped the industry and empowered women worldwide to dream big.
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