Dubai-based designer, Jelena Bin Drai recently unveiled her much anticipated Autumn/Winter 2016/2017 ready-to-wear collection at Fashion Forward. The designer showed her 37-piece contemporary yet classic collection, which has been inspired by her love of London. We speak to her about her latest collection, her inspirations and more.
In conversation with Nupur Jaisinghani
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE UP FASHION? WHEN DID IT ALL BEGIN?
I started my career in the modeling industry at the age of 19 and spent the next 12 years working with some of the biggest and most exciting names in the industry, from across the world. Because of my love for fashion and learning about fittings, textiles and fabrics from top fashion designers, I learnt new things every day. I was constantly inspired and this reconfirmed that my love for fashion should take me down the designing route at some point in the future.
So I started to design my own clothes for me. I studied architecture, so creativity and being able to sketch was already a part of me. Soon my friends were asking for me to design clothes for them and then their friends. So my fashion ‘business’ grew through recommendation for a few years without me even realizing it was a business. That is when I thought I should maybe take it more seriously and start my own label. This is when the Jelena Bin Drai label was born.
WHAT DOES FASHION MEAN TO YOU?
Ever since I was a young girl, fashion has always been important to me. My mother was a big inspiration as she always dressed elegantly.
Fashion is a form of communications and has a lot of influence on women and their roles in society. No matter what, I always knew that one day I would be involved in the fashion industry. Fashion is all about expressing individuality and personality. I create specific designs and themes and add my culture, tradition and feelings throughout.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR LATEST COLLECTION.
I think this is one of my favourite collections so far – I love it all. As a designer, it’s hard not to design for yourself and incorporate all the things you love. The collection is mostly monochromatic (black and white) with flares of red, and is inspired by winter in London. I think the collection is contemporary yet classic and can be worn day or night. I love to layer and so there are some lightweight coats that are very elegant over trousers or dresses.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? WHAT WOULD WE SEE YOU WEARING ON A DAY OFF?
My personal style is comfort and classiness. I always want to feel confident and feminine in anything that I wear. My design philosophy is to cater to women who are conservative and at the same time modern. Having three children I need to get ready quickly, but look professional and stay comfortable.
FASHION ICON TODAY IN YOUR OPINION?
I love Her Highness Sheikha Mozah and Princess Kate Middleton’s fashion style. They manage to always look dignified, classy and feminine all at once. I would love to see them wear my designs.
FLASH FORWARD A DECADE; WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?
I still see myself following my dreams, doing what I love, and hopefully, expanding my business worldwide.