Today we’re honored to be able to share Zahra’s interview on her story and the inspiration behind her latest collection 🙂
Welcome Zahra! x
Where are you located?
I am currently based in Surrey just outside of London however I am in central London around three days a week.
In one sentence, describe your motivation in life:
My parents’ hard work and investment of time and resources in my siblings and myself Is what motivates me to become successful in my field, all I want in this life is to be able to make them proud.
Tell us the story of yourself and your collection, and how you got started in fashion design:
From a young age I always wanted to be different to everybody else and be ‘the only one in the world’ with a particular outfit/garment. So whenever my parents bought me a new outfit I would always add my own touch to it, weather it was replacing a drawstring with ribbon or sewing a small pattern on it, I would do it.
I remember one day in summer, everybody in my primary school started wearing the school cardigans (which I had chosen to wear all year around to be different to everybody wearing the school sweater) and I was really frustrated that I was no longer the only one wearing it, so one lunchtime I ripped all of the buttons off it.
Naturally when I got home my parents asked me what happened and I remember saying ‘they fell off’… but I had a plan. I went to my mothers sewing box and played pick ‘n’ mix with her button collection.
I finished my school year with mismatched vintage golden buttons on my cardigan that was the start of my ‘bespoke’ design; I just didn’t know it yet.
This collection was inspired by my Libyan heritage with influence of my mother’s Jewish roots, which also resided in old Libya. The majority of the silhouettes and striped theme comes from the traditional Libyan outfit called “Ir-deh” with layers of Jewish influenced tailoring.
Do you have a favorite piece from your collection?
My favorite outfit has got to be Look 3 in my collection, which is made up of a hand drawn stripe shirt/kaftan and a woolen oversized overlapped striped/check coat with a polka dot back.
What has been the highlight or ‘I can’t believe this!’ moment so far on your journey in design?
I think it was when I was selected to showcase at Graduate Fashion Week as one of 18 out of 39 that was really special because it has been my goal since my first year at university to get in and I feel proud that I have achieved what I put my mind to. As a result I was featured on Vogue – that’s one off the bucket list!
How does your faith affect your approach to your work?
Being a practicing Muslim allows me to have a positive outlook towards work and life in general. I always feel like if something doesn’t work out its because God has something better in mind for me which keeps my spirits up when times get tough.
I don’t think faith plays a particularly huge role in terms of affecting my design work, I think many people are shocked when I design clothing which isn’t necessarily ‘hijab friendly’ but people forget that we are not in our hijabs 24/7. We too dress up around our girlfriends, within female only gatherings and also around family. I do design modest clothing – which I would wear with hijab, but also what I feel like myself and my family and friends would wear behind closed doors.
What/where/who inspires you?
I really adore the designs of Burberry and Channel. Both these brands have maintained beautiful classical looks dating back to their origins and developed modern takes on their looks year on year to create timeless pieces. These brands inspire me to create luxury timeless fashion rather than fast, disposable fashion.
How do you handle the inevitable creative block / challenges in the creative process?
I think it’s important to allow yourself space to grow and not to pressure yourself too much, but at the same time its important not to abandon the ship, you have to be persistent but if something isn’t working leave it for a day and come back to it with fresh eyes.
What 2 pieces of advice, based on your own experience, would you give to someone wanting to start out in fashion?
1) I would say definitely be prepared to put aside any social life you have now because fashion design is a lifestyle not just a ‘job’, it goes way beyond a nine to five role.
2) The second bit of advice is allow yourself one day a week to do something fun and nonfashion-related both for your own sanity and also to allow room for creative growth.
If you could travel to one place anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
I would love to be back in Libya surrounded by my family.
Where would you love to see your work and career in 5 years time?
I would love to work for a British fashion house for a few years eventually leading to the launch of my own luxury collection and showcasing at fashion weeks around the world.
You can find Zahra Rose here: