Rafia Helal Bin Drai Founder Of Mauzan Discusses The Success of Her UAE Fashion House

Lindsay Judge   |   08-07-2024

With a story that began in 1990, Mauzan is one of the oldest fashion houses in Dubai.

Its founder, Rafia Helal Bin Drai, began creating luxury abayas over three decades ago after embarking on a journey to redefine the concept of this iconic garment. She became a pioneer in the industry, reimagining the classic abaya and offering a modern twist on this staple wardrobe item.

Today, Mauzan has become the go-to for special occasion garments, and its pieces have become essential to clients looking for extra special garments to wear for key moments in their lives. Mauzan’s unwavering commitment to quality has been a defining characteristic of her brand. Whether it’s the silk, linen or cotton and velvets, they are all sourced from the world’s most famous textile houses in France, Italy and Switzerland. 

Over the years, Helal Bin Drai has opened eight boutiques across the UAE, as well as one in Saudi Arabia and one in Qatar, but there is still much more to be done. As her brand continues to grow, we find out more about what’s on the horizon for Mauzan.

Tell us about your brand today and its vision and direction looking forward. 

Over the past 30 years, Mauzan has grown and evolved to become a brand that withstands the test of time and trends. Loyal to our clients and faithful to our brand ethos, Mauzan has remained to be an artisanal Emirati fashion house, pioneering in luxury abaya design. 

Looking forward, we hope to continue to spread the joy that every Mauzan piece brings to each wearer. 

What first inspired you to open your brand?

My love towards fashion and my deep appreciation for the timeless charm of a traditional abaya inspired me to launch Mauzan. Deeply rooted in exquisite craftsmanship and artistic creations, the brand was founded to tell the story of our unique garment. 

What are you currently working on?

We’re currently working on finalising the Ramadan 2025 collection as well as sourcing new luxurious fabrics for new collections. 

Tell us about your latest collection.

The latest Chapter 32 collection explores modern beauty while representing women from different walks of life. This collection promises to build a wardrobe of styles that fit every mood. 

Tell us about the materials you work with.

This season, we work with 100% linen, tulle and Tencel organza; threads of luxury.

Who is your customer today?

Our customer is a feminine woman who dresses to showcase her personality and inner confidence. 

On an international level, where would you like to see your brand?

We’d like to see Mauzan showcased at retailers across the world. As a luxury brand, our goal is to present our designs on a platform alongside our international counterparts. 

What’s the biggest challenge you face today?

Today’s biggest challenges are related to navigating through the ever-changing fashion landscape and balancing tradition with modern trends. At the same time, we view these challenges as opportunities to enhance our designs and offerings further while staying true to the Mauzan aesthetic. We recognise our social and environmental responsibility to include practices that promote this, which we constantly strive to implement step by step.

What would you still like to achieve with the brand that you haven’t done yet?

As our brand grows, so do our goals. Our aim is to expand Mauzan’s global presence with a dedicated flagship store in key fashion capitals. We would also like to establish a sustainable product line that encompasses our values and culture. 

What’s your first memory of fashion?

My first memory of fashion dates back to watching my mother and grandmother craft traditional abayas. Accompanying them to fabric markets and witnessing the impact of elegant attires at different cultural elements fuelled my creativity and desire to design. 

In this issue, we are celebrating Emirati Women’s Day – what makes you proud to be from the UAE?

Our country is our backbone as the UAE strives to provide us with the best opportunities and support. It makes me proud to see how the country continues to encourage each one of us to fulfil our dreams and potential. 

What advice would you give to aspiring designers?

My advice would be to have an open mind and always welcome lessons. As an aspiring designer, you will always face challenges, but consider these as stepping stones that are helping you shape your dream. 

What inspires you?

My clients inspire me! Seeing how different women style our pieces always inspires me to create functional yet beautiful pieces. 

What message would you send to our readers?

I’d like to wish every reader a very Happy Emirati Women’s Day! This day is dedicated to us, to our hard work, our achievements, and everything we believe in, so don’t take that for granted. Women are superheroes!  

By Lindsay Judge