Saudi designer Arwa Al Banawi grew up in Jeddah but spent a large part of her childhood in Switzerland. With travelling being such an important part of her life, this has rubbed off on her design inspiration being heavily focused around her passion for story telling. We speak to her about her inspirations and more.
In conversation with Nupur Jaisinghani.
DESCRIBE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION FROM? HOW MUCH OF YOUR AESTHETIC IS DERIVED FROM YOUR LIFE IN JEDDAH AND IN SWITZERLAND?
The first thing I do when I start to research and think of my next collection is that I go back to Jeddah; the funny thing is that I have this strong connection to the root of where it all started and I can only really think about the first phase of designing the collection back in my hometown; it’s the source of everything. I then go back to my studio in Dubai and Zurich and start phase two, which is the sketches and fabrics etc.
The aesthetic of the brand is inspired by my home- Saudi Arabia and Europe; two places that I spent most of my life in and that’s why I like to blend these two worlds together.
WHY READY TO WEAR SUITS AND SHIRTS? WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON CORPORATE FASHION?
Corporate fashion is boring! I hate hate seeing women that work in corporation dress in a way that is so lifeless and depressing. I thought why not make suits that look cool and stylish at the same time…something that shows your posture and your femininity at the same time. So I began to experiment a lot with suits because I know how a busy woman needs to be in two places at the same time and she would want to look good, so in my eyes, a suit is the only attire that you can work from day to night! And my love for suits started from my dad who taught me everything I know about suits.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CITY AND ITS FASHION SCENE.
Dubai is becoming one of the coolest cities to be in. We’re not trying to be something we’re not; Dubai is original with the artists and designers that come out from here and I can’t be more proud to have my base from Dubai and Saudi.
WHAT KIND OF SILHOUETTES OF YOU THINK FIT A WOMAN?
Anything that makes you feel comfortable is suitable. Personally, I love layers and I prefer silhouettes that are masculine and go back to the 90’s. It’s my vision for my designs as I think my cuts bring out a certain edge and I think it’s how you feel that reflects on your posture and how your clothes will look on you.
HOW DO YOU CONCEPTUALISE YOUR RUNWAY SHOWS? WHAT KIND OF THEMES DO YOU LIKE THE BEST?
A show is like directing a movie. It all goes back to the story of the collection and from there, we start to direct the show. I’m very audacious and the sky is the limit for me. I try my best to make the ideas I want work because the story I want to deliver to my audiences is very important to me.