FashionLife & Style

Quest for the woman within

She plans out her first collection, Yasmine Yeya, Egypt’s new of designer of femme, builds a strong, art minded, feminine inner circle of clientele who appreciate her work and put value into the designer’s ability to create – rather than copy.
The women of Cairo have certain habits when out and about in their metropolitan lives but none are so specific as those of the female wedding invitee. Depending on the relationship between the bride and the posh guest-to-be, wedding season can easily turn into the incredible journey for the most beautiful dress and, with our still limited choice of designer boutiques, the hunting season for the ultimate in dress designers.
The dress making/dress designing industry in Egypt is an interesting and undocumented one. While fashion designers like Yeya may add up to 20 or 30 in total, dressmakers are scattered in the hundreds around Cairo, some in private ateliers and others in dress stores and workshops. Prices range greatly for dressmakers and designers. While you can get a seamstress to copy a style for you starting form 800-1000 L.E. (not including the fabric) – the designers will create a unique piece for you for anywhere from 3000 to 50,000 L.E.
In the midst of this jungle, Yeya has found her niche – a collection of regulars who know better than to come to her with designs they want copied and an ever growing number of newcomers who are sure to be a little intimidated by her high ceilinged atelier in Zamalek with its beautifully papered walls and funky chandelier. Yeya’s connection with fashion lies in her love of the beauty of women. She has faith that under each smart business suit and behind each harassment-induced swear word lies the spirit of a woman – an essence of femininity that, once dress making is underway, must be come to light.
Although she can sound off quite a list of Egyptian celebrities she has dressed, from Dalia El Beheiry and Mona Zaki to Nelly Karim and Donia Samir Ghanem, Yeya’s main concern is her integrity as a designer. She is often taken aback by new clients who are proud to admit that they are coming to her merely because they’ve heard that ‘so-and-so’ is on her client list. Even more appalling to Yeya, those who come to her with dresses they want copied. “I am so disappointed that there is such a lack of appreciation for workmanship here. A lack of appreciation for art – for every art form out there.”
To Yeya, each dress is the embodiment of a woman’s sexy, girly, beautiful essence. Each new client is a new face of femininity, a new personality to study and a new emotional set of needs to fulfill through the making of the perfect dress. It is this process that unleashes the artist in Yeya who emphasizes she wants to keep her work from becoming “too commercial, keep it at an artistic level. I’m more into custom made work that has more of the personality of the woman – made just for her.”
Yeya takes a sip of her Coke and re-gathers her hair in its loose bun as she straightens her sweater and leads me into the workshop. It’s the long weekend and a Yeya’s in her element in a long fluid dress as she floats down her hallway. “I love to use chiffon and lace – pure fabrics, delicate fabrics.” And it becomes apparent when the workshop door opens and scene from Project Runway unfolds. Workmen at white flat tables, the sounds of sewing machines and in the middle, a grouping of mannequins for designers, each clothed in layers of light and beautiful fabrics.
Back in the showroom, Yeya continues as I glance through the rack of her designs, “When I started, I felt I was dressing women the way I dressed myself. Classy, feminine, flirtatious – the feminine attributes I appreciate. When you get to real work, you have to figure out what each woman wants. Sometimes the figure is great and it’s the personality that needs to be better expressed through the making of a dress. Sometimes a woman’s figure is more challenging to me but her personality calls out to me in some way and I am inspired. I want women look classy and more feminine. My inspiration is only put off by women who are obviously escaping their femininity.”
When asked from which designers she finds inspiration Yeya finds it necessary to correct me, “My fascination with fashion doesn’t come from designers, it comes from women.” And a day in Yeya’s busy life will prove this – 12 hours of appointments and whereas a lot of sketching and designing takes place, she still has the luxury to spend a lot of that time talking. It’s important to Yeya to understand the woman in front of her and reveal the femininity within.
Yeya’s next logical step may be a collection marking her best work to date but I wouldn’t be surprised if Yeya’s upcoming feat is actually the creation of a fashion and art related community.

Related Articles

Back to top button