Posted on Sep 24, 2013
We've collaborated with Dubai Designer Nora Sahraoui to create an exclusive line of Abayas just for Haute Hijab! We're bringing you four designer abayas of the utmost quality that are lavishly unique and fashion forward! We got up close and personal with Nora - read on to learn more about this inspiring French-Moroccan designer!
Tell us a little about your fashion background. I have always loved fashion. I grew up in Marseille, France. Paris is the fashion capital of the world and Marseille is in its fashion shadow. We grow up with an obsession for fashion. Marseille women will save for a month and would rather make do without food for a special purse or shoes. Marseille is a cosmopolitan port city and the door from Africa to the rest Europe. There is a mix of Arab, African and French cultures and tastes, making fashion special and exciting.
Tell us about your journey as a designer. A fortunate twist of fate allowed me to find my life's passion. While studying finance I took a position with a local shoe designer. He was designing a line for young women and in between my accounting work, he would for my input on his designs. I became more involved in the process and together we created a new shoe line. The line was far more successful than expected and he saw that I had a talent and an eye for fashion. He also told me that I had a knack for knowing the next trend and what customers want. With this, I accepted my life's calling to the medium of fashion and its complex mixture of fear, mystery and desire.
Nora with Mark Cuban and Damon John
You have lived and worked in France, Miami, Morocco and Dubai – how does this affect your work? For French people, fashion is in the blood, it is the culture; we are born into fashion and it's everywhere. For me, fashion isn’t work, it’s who I am. Fashion is more of an instinct than a procedure or science for me. French fashion is elegant and classic. Morocco is who I am. The richness of the culture and the vibrancy of the people are always reflected in my designs. Arab fashion is more about opulence and the status that the dress portrays. What's most important are the details, whether embroidery or crystals. Arab fashion is an external expression of who we are.
What's the inspiration behind your abaya designs? Abayas are dresses for Arab Muslim women. They are mainly black and always conservative and designed to cover the body. I design abayas with this in mind but I design for the fashion forward woman. Each design is created to make the woman who wears it feel special. She is proud and confident. When I came to Dubai, I was fortunate to develop designs for one of the finest abaya companies in the region. Their designs and quality are of the utmost quality and I learned to make quality my top priority. We use the best and most expensive abaya material, nada. Each abaya I create is something I would wear myself (and often do). You will find some with special fabrics that I bring in from France, Morocco, and India. You’ll find special cuts inspired by European fashions, and you’ll find some that are just fun.
What has been your career highlight to date? It was my label launch during Miami Fashion Week. I never thought that I’d be in Miami to launch my line and have the fantastic response from the industry was moving for me. When my fashions and the show appeared on Fashion TV, that was more than I could have ever wanted.
What advice would you give to aspiring designers? Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid. Don’t let people tell you what you cannot achieve. Believe in yourself and apply your abilities to your aspirations. Make a plan and make it happen!