Saudi designer Arwa Al Banawi grew up in Jeddah, and spent most of her upbringing in Switzerland. She grew up learning about fashion from her parents who inspired her recent designs to include sharp dressing with a retro twist, with travelling being such an important part of her life, this has rubbed off on her design inspiration being heavily focused around her passion for storytelling.
After moving to Dubai in 2012 Arwa took up a career in banking whilst taking up short courses in Fashion Design with London College of Fashion. However, after realising that her true passion lay in design, she noticed a gap in the market for womenswear suiting and decided to launch her debut collection of ready-to-wear suits and shirts in 2015. Arwa understands that women should feel empowered, but also that they don’t need to lose their femininity.
When it comes to her own personal style it is a similar aesthetic, with a signature look of an oversized suit with a t-shirt and sneakers.
This jacket is a key piece from my recent AW17 collection. The inspiration behind the collection is empowering women, and it is about the importance of females and their significance in the world. I wanted to really highlight that message through bold colours with this vivid scarlet hue. Whenever I make samples, they will never become a final piece in the collection until I have worn them, as it is only then that I know what final tweaks need to be made to make the piece perfect. When I wore this jacket I instantly felt powerful, it is both seductive and cool at the same time.
This backpack is a men’s style from Saint Laurent. I always find that backpacks are much better from men’s collections rather than women’s because they are bigger and I prefer the styles. I got this a couple of seasons ago and I love the palm trees as they remind me of Miami. I tend to use this as a day to day bag, carrying my sketchbook, headphones, power bank, and make-up bag, all the essentials!
A new fragrance that I am obsessed with is Arcadia and it is made in the UAE by Amna Al Habtoor. There are ten fragrances, each numbered differently, although this is definitely my favourite. I mostly tend to wear it on its own, or otherwise I pair it with musk that I get from Saudi.
I don’t tend to wear heels, but if I do then I will only wear Prada, as she honestly makes the most comfortable shoes. I particularly love this pair as they are modern, yet with a 70’s futuristic edge. I saw them first on Kim Kardashian on a shoot, and I instantly wanted them, however they were sold out until I finally tracked them down in Zurich.
Backed by Adidas Originals, the casual sportswear division of Adidas, P E by Arwa Al Banawi is a limited-edition capsule collection, with only 15 pieces of each design. The inspiration was freshman year in high school, with lots of hoodies, yet still in keeping with my brand aesthetic with the addition of blazers.
This Maison Michel hat was bought in Paris at Colette. I love the store and am very sad that it is closing, as I tend to always visit when I am travelling in Europe. I rarely wear hats in Dubai, but when I am travelling I always take a huge collection, as I love wearing them, even at night. I will always tend to go for a fedora, or otherwise sometimes a cap.
My studio is an eclectic and raw space filled with original art. These paintings are by my brother, who has just started painting but has not yet become a professional artist. He creates these quirky characters in his mind, giving his artwork an individual aesthetic.
My mother gave me these earrings, she is a very stylish woman and is certainly one of the reasons that got me into fashion. She has vintage blazers designed by Coco Chanel, which her mother gave her, and those pieces were my inspirations for my own designs. I would study the craftsmanship that went into them, to really understand how they were made. The necklace is a vintage find from New York which I wear as a choker.
By Eliza Scarborough
Photography: Henry Pascual