It’s Friday morning and Deana Shaaban is holding the ‘open day’ for her first casual collection. With signs on the street to guide the early rising fashion-curious (such as myself)-Shaaban’s eyes light up as I step down the stairs and introduce myself. "Yes, of course! Al-Masry Al-Youm! Have a muffin!" Shaaban avidly encourages me to eat and within moments, we’re the best of friends, discussing fluctuating weight issues, needle cuts from insane amounts of sewing and, of course, the difference between "subtly sexy" as Shaaban explains it and just asking for it.
Needless to say, Shaaban’s laughter is contagious, "A beautiful person inside and out, and Deana expresses that beauty in her clothing," Waleed Fateem explains.
Shaaban studied marketing at AUC but in her last year, audited a class in sketching with Youmna Sorour, AUC’s only fashion design instructor. She followed up on her interest with classes at the FDC (Fashion Design Center) and Institute Technique de la Mode. Shaaban began making evening dresses, first for her sister, then her friends and then people distant enough to become clients. After a one-year program in the London branch of the Instituto Marangoni, Shaaban is now back and starting up her casual line.
But this is not where things started. Apparently, Shaaban’s mother was the original seamstress and designer of the family. Shaaban recalls how her mother "used to always make things and make me try them on!"
Shaaban is inspired by "drapey" fabrics and designs. "It’s not often that I use rigid fabrics, unless it’s to pull in a part of the drapey-ness," she explains. But more importantly, Shaaban collects fabrics from all over the place and pulls them together. Her line of tops may be based on simple cotton jersey t-shirts but the insertion of materials such as Indian silk, satin and netting render her pieces unique and bordering on flamboyant. "It’s this type of clothing that always puts me in a good mood," Shaaban points out, "whenever I’m feeling down or sick, I know that by putting on a piece that is bright, beautiful and fun is such a pick-me-up." And fun is the theme, according to Shaaban-the pants are loose and playful, the skirts full and swirly and the dresses look like the wardrobe of a celebration in Peter Seller’s The Party.
Surprisingly, Shaaban sewed it all. Literally. Unlike any other designer I’ve seen in Cairo, Shaaban has avoided handing designs over to her atelier of workers and has decided to sew every small, medium and large version of every garment on her racks. "I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep it up though," Shaaban admits, "But I’m sure I’d like to sew something in every collection. This time around I realized I had gotten in over my head with the amount of sewing an entire collection requires."
Shaaban’s open day was only this Friday, the 19th, but she plans to sell the rest of the collection online – www.deanashaaban.com.