Persil's Arwa3 Abaya (Awesomest Abaya) Contest Winner Talks Exclusively to Lavalier Dubai

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The day of the finale at The Armani Hotel - Dubai

Middle Eastern TV has been riding the reality competition TV bandwagon. MBC, for example, just aired the Arwa3 3abaya contest, which is now in its 5th season.

The search for the awesomest Abaya design began with 8 contestants. It was a grueling competition to the top with elimination every week and it ended in May with one winner: Reyan Hanafi.

Reyan was gracious enough to discuss herself, her brand and where what she expects in the future:

Tell me a little about yourself.

I'm a recent graduate from the American University of Sharjah and I studied Architecture with a minor in Design Management. I'm Sudanese but I was born and raised in the UAE, mostly in Abu Dhabi. Although fashion design was not in the forefront of my professional plans, fashion illustration has grown with my from an early age and my sketches are all over my notebooks for as long as I can remember.

Basking in the Glory: Reyan takes questions after her big win!

How Are Architecture and Fashion Related?

Although many might say that architecture and fashion are unrelated, I think that my architectural education gave me a good eye for composition, design and proportions. One of the main reasons I believe I succeeded in the abaya contest is because the judges sense my architectural touch: my designs always seem to have a structural, clean aesthetic to them.

Tell me more about the Persil Arwaa Abaya Contest. 

I originally heard about the contest through a friend who recommended that I apply when I posted a few of my sketches on my Instagram account. I don't usually sketch abayas and I thought that my lack of experience would hold me back in comparison to the other contestants. But I think that’s what gave me my competitive edge. I tried bringing in new concepts into the world of abayas by producing things that are out of the box.

How would you define your city's fashion? 

Well growing up in Abu Dhabi, it's a beach city with a slow relaxed vibe, unlike Dubai. High street buys, flip-flops and ballerinas are a staple here.

Reyan (Right) with her competition checking out one of the designs featured on the MBC reality show

What was the first item of clothing you ever designed? 

The first piece I ever designed and made was actually on the show. I have stacks of imagined and sketched collections, but I never really dove into my love for fashion until I won the contest. Even though it was my first design, it wont Top Abaya of the Week.

How long does it usually take you to design and construct a piece? 

Designing a piece doesn't take much time for me. On the show I would produce up to 8 sketches and would start dwindling down and combining concepts to a final one within the allocated 90 minute time limit. 

Winner is finally revealed!

What are some of your favorite clothing stores/catalogs/websites? 

I think the one store that I can consistently trust to find an outfit is Zara. They have a keen eye to pick up trends from the runway and then make it available at main street prices. As for blogs, I frequent for inspiration. Also, through the show, Persil has given us the privilege to have access to, a trend forecasting company that is used by all the big fashion houses to keep an eye on what the future trends are for several years to come. 

What is the future of your brand? Where do you see yourself in the next few years? 

Although my start in professional fashion design was for abayas, I found it's too constricting. I see myself in the pret-a-porter side of fashion world. In the next few years I want to open my own boutique, selling ready to wear high end fashion, with a clean modern aesthetic. 

Where can readers find out more about you and your work? 

For now my design work can be seen on my behance account: . but that's mostly my work in exhibition, furniture and architectural design. As for my work in fashion that would have to wait a bit until my first line is out hopefully in time for this fall or next spring season.


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