UAE-based designer Hamda Al Fahim was born to Emirati parents in 1985 and grew up in Abu Dhabi. After graduating from the College of Art and Science, she embarked on a career as an interior designer, although it became apparent from an early age that her destiny lay elsewhere. From as young as 12 years old, Hamda would sketch dress designs and bring them to life herself, using whatever materials were available to her.
What started as a hobby and passion evolved into a career over the years, and Hamda is now a fashion designer who specializes in glamourous eveningwear. The designs fuse both eastern and western influences to create her signature style. We spoke to the designer about her journey, creative process and her words of wisdom for brides-to-be trying to find their dream dress.
Who supported you at the beginning of your journey and how did you transform your hobby to a successful career in the world of fashion?
In the beginning, family and friends were honestly my number one support system, they believed in me and were my first customers.
How do your collections reflect your identity as a designer?
Elegance, grace and femininity are always the main element of my designs.
What is your favourite phase of the design process?
The creative and experimentation part. I always try to think of new handwork techniques and what can we do differently with each collection.
What are your thoughts on colourful wedding dresses?
In my opinion I think it can work, as long as the colours are subtle and soft and not too dramatic.
How do you choose your fabrics and how much time does it take to embroider each dress?
Fabric selection is a whole world in itself; we mostly use softer and more sheer fabrics. To hand embroider a dress it can take from two days to one month dependent on the level of detail and design on the gown.
Do you personally assist the brides to help them choose the perfect dress?
Yes, I personally meet every bride and sit with them to discuss their dream gown. Then I give them my ideas for designs and opinion on what I think would look good on them.
What advice would you give to a bride choosing one of your designs?
I really like the dress to compliment the bride’s figure so my main point of advice would be around choosing a cut and silhouette that would look best for them.
Is it possible for your clients to choose from previous collections?
Yes, we make custom dresses from all our previous collections and we can modify them too; depending on what the client wants we can change the colour, add or remove sleeves, and so on.
Do you visualise yourself wearing your dresses as you design them?
Yes! I always ask myself, ‘would I wear this’? And if the answer is ‘no’ then I don’t make it.
What lessons have you learned so far in your career as a designer and business woman?
Follow your heart and do what you love and are good at. Don’t work or sit behind a desk for hours unless it’s something you’re passionate about.
What is an important characteristic a designer should have?
Confidence! You must believe in yourself and your designs.
What does imagination mean to you?
Imagination is creating something that no one has ever seen before.
Which is your favourite country to escape to and find new inspiration?
My favourite country is Italy. I love it!
What’s a quote that you try to live by?
I always say ‘live, love, laugh.’
Do you have any more words of wisdom for brides-to-be?
My advice to every bride is to take it easy and, when making or purchasing your dress, make sure that it’s going to be something that you look back at 20 years from now and think that it’s still as beautiful and timeless. Most importantly; take time to enjoy your wedding day!