Destined for Design

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Fatema’s SS15 collection


Fatema’s showcase at New York Fashion Week


Excerpts from her scrapbook






Rachel Zoe with Fatema Fardan


Fatema’s AW15 collection

Fatema Fardan’s love for fashion began when she was nine. A quirky incident when she cut up curtains in a hotel room in London to make a dress led to a career that would have her designs going Stateside. Sharon Carvalho spoke to the creative soul about her journey and the next step

How did it all begin?
I went to London in 2006 to study fashion design and ended up staying there for six years. I finished my degree, interned with designers such as Tata Naka and Bora Aksu and gained a lot of experience. A little after that, my parents asked me to come back to the country. Moving to Dubai made me want to try something new. So I decided to dabble in the business side of fashion. I interned in the Public Relations department of Louis Vuitton and got exposed to the corporate side of things. But, in the end, I only stayed for four months. I realised that it just wasn’t for me.

What was next for you?
It was 2013 when I quit the internship and by November 2014 I launched my brand in Dubai. I think the process was a lot more challenging for me because I didn’t really know the fashion market in Dubai. I didn’t know basic things like where to source fabric and materials or which suppliers to go to. I had spent so much time in London and knew that city and the market like the back of my hand. Dubai was a whole new experience for me so it took a lot of research and time to find what I wanted. But once I was ready, I showcased my first collections. Through my work, I met a Public Relations lady from New York who encouraged me to put on a show in New York.

So what did it take to get ready for New York Fashion Week?
It took a lot of Skype sessions at odd hours! Because of the time difference, everything would happen after working hours. I had to send my sketches for them to get a feel of my collection. I also had a production company working with me who designed the whole show. They did a fantastic job with the venue and the set up. They did this beautiful wall of flowers that perfectly summed up the theme of my collection. I also had a PR company that was in charge of creating buzz for the show so it was a matter of coordinating with three different companies to make the whole thing come together.

What was the response like?
I think it was a matter of curiosity. I think New York was intrigued by the idea of a designer from United Arab Emirates. They view Dubai with this aura of glamour so they wanted to see the designs that would come out of the pace we live. This aura of exotic was what caused the incredible turnout at the show, which just blew me away. People were having such a good time that they just didn’t want to leave! I remember the DJ telling me that she planned on playing annoying, classical music to get people to leave. It was a surreal feeling having Rachel Zoe at the show too. I got some really good feedback.

What is your design process?
I never stop designing. That’s my process. My head is like a design sponge. I could be doing anything and I’ll draw. So, designing a collection is like living it all the time. I’m always thinking about the mood and feel about a collection, collating research and pictures and constantly sketching. Then I compile it all and sketch by hand.
I’m old school like that. I still draw everything myself. Once I have my scrapbook put together, I analyse and dissect it. Then I produce samples and put the collection together. For me, what I start of with is usually what I end up with but there are minor changes. I want to compile a collection that is cohesive, tells a story and works well together. It is about the woman that I’m dressing. How she feels, what does she want to wear and how does she want to be represented in this season.

What next? Are you going back to New York for your next collection?
Being in New York was an amazing experience. I would eventually like to go back there or to Paris but my next collection is very personal and rooted in me so I felt the best place to do it would be here. It is a modern interpretation of my culture and who I am. So, we’re still deciding whether we want to do it at FFWD or on our own but we definitely want to stay here.

Must haves in your handbag: My makeup bag. I’m a beauty junkie!

Fashion pet peeve: When people are obsessed with trends and choose ones that don’t suit them.

Favourite me time: Scuba diving, oil painting and reading

Celebrities you would like to dress: I want to dress women of substance so my picks are Amal Clooney, Queen Rania, Sonam Kapoor and Jennifer Lawrence