Today marks Emirati Women’s Day. One of the most successful women from the region is fashion designer Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi.
Having grown up in Fujairah, as the daughter of the Ruler of Fujairah, U.A.E, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi Madiyah no one knows the UAE fashion industry better than Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi. The female designer has been surrounded by luxury fashion her whole life and fell in love with fashion design at a very young age.
After graduating from French fashion school ESMOD Madiyah launched her own fashion label Madiyah Al Sharqi. Based out of her Atelier in Fujairah this homegrown fashion house has made quite a name for itself over recent years.
Madiyah has firmly proven that she has a true eye for design and has developed a strong signature style of modern silhouettes with simple feminine collections that are modest yet appealing to women of all cultures. The designer has gone from strength to strength, and the recent launch of her e-commerce site means that the rest of the world will now get to immerse themselves in her designs.
As she prepares to launch her autumn/winter 2018-19 collection A&E talks to Madiyah Al Sharqi on what it took to build her brand to what it is today and how her home country has helped her to do just that.
What can you tell us about your Fall/Winter 18 collection?
This season’s collection was inspired by the concept of duality and dissimilarity – exploring fluid and asymmetrical silhouettes, and bringing together contrasting fabrics that make up a collection of elevated daytime separates and occasion wear. Drawing on the romantic, rich autumnal tones, the collection ranges from sheer delicate fabrics like a sheer lilac and sage polka dotted lace, green embroidered sequins, mustard and deep burgundy velvets, to tougher textures like vinyl leather and lambskin fur that come in paler hues of peach and beige.
The collection is quite a different colour palette for you why is this and what can you tell us about the materials you used?
Over the years, I’ve developed a consistent process that I work within to develop the collections. I deal with international suppliers for sourcing fabrics, and the selection process is based on the pillars of the brand I’ve developed over the seasons, as well as some references from mood boards and sketches I put together.
I always look forward to designing autumn/winter because I get to explore heavier textiles and include a variety of outerwear. Sequin embroidered column gowns and jumpsuits come in two-sided metallic colours, velvets are paired with delicate polka dotted lace, while fur overcoats and patent leather jackets are fastened with sash belts.
How would you describe your signature style?
My collections have always been grounded on decadent, luxurious fabrics in subtle colour palettes cut into playful silhouettes, which create statement looks that can work from day to night. As the Madiyah Al Sharqi muse grew up, so did my signature vision for the brand evolve – designing more tailored pieces that can work as “elevated daywear”, but still with a hefty dose of sophistication and spirited attitude.
Would you ever try a completely different style, will we ever see you do prints for example?
Our more recent seasons have been exactly that—something that really evolved over time was the introduction of a really significant amount of daywear into our collections, and with that, so has continually exploring new decadent fabrics, prints and textures that complement or contrast lace, which has become a hallmark of the brand since our early days.
In what ways has the UAE helped you?
We’re very grateful to have such an established and consistent market in the UAE. I think a huge part of that can be attributed to the fact that all of our production takes place in the UAE, based out of my atelier in Fujairah that has been creating the collections for 15 seasons. I’m so proud that we’re able to do that, and to maintain an international standard through local production with a highly skilled team. While we source all of our fabric, lace and embroidery from Italy and France, it has always been fundamental to the brand that the pieces are produced here.
What do you see as the future of the fashion industry in the UAE?
I think the UAE has become something of a hotbed for young design talents because of the forward-thinking platforms and entities that support and nurture them and I can only see the industry continually growing to new heights as it cements its place in the global fashion scape.
Who was your inspiration growing up?
My mother has always been an inspiration. I remember her working closely with tailors to make bespoke pieces for her, and growing up around that made me realize early on that fashion and design was something I would like to make a profession out of.
How do you get noticed in an industry that is so saturated?
I think recognising the gap you want to fill in the market is still a very defining factor of how brands are set apart. As well as maintaining consistency by identifying the pillars of your brand, and finally, being perceptive about the countless digital platforms we have now to directly connect with consumers.This inspired the launch of www.madiyahalsharqi.com. While it operates at the same high level of customer service as the major e-commerce players, what sets our digital space apart is the curated selection of pieces from our current collections, and offering limited edition and exclusive pieces that aren’t available anywhere else.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Travel is always a constant source of inspiration – the art, culture and history of European cities in particular.
How do you feel about the modest fashion movement? Do you think it is just a trend or is it that women’s tastes are changing?
As with many labels that emerged from this region, we have always consciously tailored our collections to offer options for women who prefer to dress modestly. We love to integrate options that women can mix and match, layering as they like to create added textures and dimensions to their look. With local design talents consistently gaining international recognition, it’s inevitable that as a group, designers from this region played a significant part in the global modesty movement, and I would be proud to be considered as someone who had had an impact.
What’s the one item every woman should have in her wardrobe?
A perfectly tailored coat for the coming season.