Five minutes with Faiza Bouguessa

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For French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa, revisiting the rules of abaya fashion has been a welcome challenge. Her young label, Bouguessa, has garnered international praise for its rendition of minimalist modest luxury with universal appeal.


What sparked your interest in fashion?
I was always very sensitive to the arts as a child; I learned from my grandmother how to sew and knit from a very early age. My mother started buying me fashion magazines quite early in my teen years. I guess she sensed a strong interest in me – I used to go through them over and over again.

You debuted your first collection in 2014 as a self-taught designer – what was this like?
A couple of years after moving to Dubai, I started researching concepts to create a clothing line, which had always been my ultimate career goal. I found that there was a gap in the market for minimal, global abayas and modest clothing. I worked on the business plan for about four or five years before finally launching Bouguessa. I wanted to create a brand that blended in with international trends and that created a bridge between two cultures – women wearing our abayas would feel part of the global culture, while still being able to observe the traditional wearing of the garment.

Are there special considerations for designing the abaya?
My concept of ‘modest fashion’ implies guidelines to respect. Clothes should be long-sleeved or wearable under an abaya – not fitted – and long in length, while fabrics need to be adapted to the weather. Garments must also suit my clients; these are women with style who dress for themselves and not to get noticed. Being creative while keeping these elements in mind can be challenging, but it’s my favourite part of the job.

Any special travel spots that inspire you?
Anywhere I go I find inspiration. I’ve just returned from the Maldives, and while I was expecting to be inspired by the colours of the fish there, my interest was drawn towards the fact that there are a lot of Middle Eastern women travelling there. Seeing how they have to layer clothing in a place that is so hot and humid gave me some inspiration. I’d like to try and create some special pieces, incorporating very light and comfortable fabrics for when they travel. Maybe this idea will lead nowhere, but stay tuned!

When you’re not working, how do you like to relax?
Simply spending time with my husband. He brings me peace.

How do you measure success?
Getting an email from a client; hearing that she was happy with her pieces because she received a lot of compliments and felt very comfortable in them. That makes me feel like I reached my goal.

What can we anticipate from your Autumn/Winter 16/17 collection?
Deeper and darker colours, statement pieces, but also simple everyday pieces; amazing fabrics from Italy, and monochrome palettes. / Instagram: @bouguessaofficial

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