Friday Focus: Q&A With Arwa Al Banawi

Learn more about one of my favourite designers from the region…

Arwa Al Banawi Dubai fashion

Designer Arwa Al Banawi

Hey everyone and a very happy Friday! I have been thinking for a while to start introducing you to some of my favourite brands, so today I’m starting ‘Friday Focus’. As well as Gucci, Attico and Prada I’ll be sharing amazing brands from the region that I’ve got to know since living in Dubai. Today I’m kicking things off with one young and very talented designer Arwa Al Banawi. Her label is only a couple of years old but I’ve been loving her tailored blazers, feminine shapes and fun prints. Want to know more about Arwa and what inspires her? Read on…

Describe your brand.

It’s a contemporary women’s ready to wear label that I launched in 2015, which plays with an eclectic mix of contrasts. Arwa Al Banawi is about dressing “The Suitable Woman” in expertly-tailored suits in graphic prints. While its androgynous in the form of boxy silhouettes, I also like to embrace subtle glamour with figure-hugging, mini and long dresses.

How did you prepare for a career in fashion design?

I really believe I didn’t choose to be a designer but rather, it chose me. My parents are very fashion forward and would see them decked out in Gianni Versace and Chanel by Coco. I also spent most of my childhood between Jeddah and Switzerland, so I was exposed to multiple cultures and authentic street style at an early age – that’s how I caught on fashion. Funny enough, I started my career in banking but later on pursued my true calling and took up fashion courses at the London College of Fashion, Dubai. By 2015, I had launched my debut collection of suits.

What has inspired the SS17 collection?

This season was set against a fictional 1960’s boutique hotel called “Casa Maläna” which is a play on Arabic words: “casa” for glass and “maläna” for full, meaning “the glass is full”.

I drew it from “The Suitable Woman’s” new lease on life and regained optimism because I refocused on contemporary suiting and dresses after a season of experimenting designs a bit off the Arwa Al Banawi DNA.

The hotel as I imagined is a place where guests feel comfortable to be who they are in a worry-free atmosphere; a hotel lobby that’s visited by different characters and personalities. You can come across a woman heading to a late breakfast in her robe, a woman coming in from a late soirée, or a woman with luggage who’s just arrived to check in.

Arwa Al Banawi Dubai fashion

Which is your favourite piece and why?

Each look has its own story so it’s hard to pick favourites. It’s all build on the brand’s signature suits updated with retro colours like bubblegum pink and aquamarine, and a popsicle print I designed myself. They’re so easy to transition for an office day to a dinner party.

Who in the fashion world do you admire?

Gianni Versace and Yves Saint Laurent are big influences.

Arwa Al Banawi Dubai fashion

Describe your every day uniform.

A crisp white shirt, oversized blazer, slim pants and sneakers are my go-to.

What is the one thing you can’t leave home without?

Phone and sunglasses.

What is a typical day like for you?

The exciting thing about being a designer is I get to play different roles every day. If I’m suddenly inspired by an idea, I’ll draw up some designs for the upcoming season. On another day, I’d be looking over production for samples and retail orders.

What’s next?

I just showcased my AW17 Collection “Hayataha” at Fashion Forward and applied the “see now, buy now” strategy on it so select pieces are available at the Corcel lifestyle store in Dubai Design District. I’ll be launching my website soon and have some collaborations in the pipeline. Stay tuned!



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