Arwa Al Banawi wanted to get into fashion ever since she can remember. Launching her line of printed suits for women last year, she has rapidly grown and is known for her quirky prints and modern designs.
Shweta Bhatia has a tete-a- tete with the talented Saudi Arabian designer
How long have you been designing?
As a child I watched Fashion TV like I would watch Cartoon Network! I’ve been designing professionally, ever since I took short courses in culture fashion at London in 2012. It was always a dream to do something artistic. Also, my parents were impeccably stylish especially my Grandfather who lived in Europe.
Why do you do suits?
Every time I visited Europe I would go to Italy with my father and he would drag me to the tailor. That’s where I witnessed the tailor designing suits and that’s how I got into power dressing. My mother wore a lot of vintage clothes of that time like Chanel blazers with shoulder pads, which inspired me to design my own line. I believe one feels more in control when she is dressed in a sharp suit. My previous job as a banker also inspired me to create a stylish line of suits for women who work at banks or at law firms.
When did you come about with your own label?
It was last year in September when I first launched my label. We officially launched the label this year in March, as it was extremely difficult to handle my banking job along with the label.
Why do you prefer designing printed suits? Why not darks or greys?
My grandfather wore printed suits and he was my inspiration to create bold yet classy suits. If Gianni Versace were alive they’d be best friends! My grandfather passed away in September and that’s why I launched the brand then. I took all his clothes and wore them because I missed him.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a people’s person! I love socializing and meeting new people. I have a group of friends who are like family to me. I love watching sitcoms and my all time favourite would be F.R.I.E.N.D.S! I’ve watched it a million times and now I don’t even laugh at some lines because I remember all the dialogues so very well! My friends think I belong to the 50s era as I love watching Audrey Hepburn classics and enjoy listening to jazz music. Fifties was a stylish era, I loved the way they dressed up in the 50s; graceful and elegant.
What was your big fashion moment?
When I was taking up fashion courses in London, my instructor threw a challenge at us. He asked us to design something extra ordinary and he would place that piece in the middle of the class. This encouraged me to create something beautiful and extra ordinary and my hard work paid off! My design was put up in the middle of the class. My other very special moment was when I launched my label. I had no contacts in the fashion industry then and the response I received was extremely overwhelming.
Did you face any restrictions when you decided to get into fashion?
No. It’s fashion it is beautiful! Though my previous boss at the bank was highly disappointed as he thought I’d do well as a banker, but otherwise I got full support from my family and friends.
Do you ever think that you just want to change the way women wear suits?
Fashion is a huge part of our lives. Fashion narrates stories of a culture, of a past and of the future. For instance, Coco Chanel gave us pants and it was a huge revolution. Till date, women wear pants all around the world. There are so many things that bring us down. On such occasions a woman needs to lift herself up and run the day. She has to go to her job and pretend as if nothing has happened. In simpler words you need to fake it and conquer the day. So when I design suits I want the woman who wears it to believe in herself. I want her to stand up for herself and seize the day. I strongly believe if you look miserable you attract all the negativity that is present in the universe. I feel dressing up nicely is an instant feel good factor for women.