Sharjah: Amid the vibrant Arabic drapes, elaborately designed settees and stylish abayas and dresses on display in a shop in Sharjah, lay two images of an unmistakable Western icon — Audrey Hepburn.
The portrait of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s actress is embellished with sequins, beads, and crystals, lending a traditional Arabic touch to the image. Emirati designer Eman Al Midfa, creator and founder of Ghizlan Fashion House in the Halwan suburb in Sharjah, has a clear mind when it comes to fashion.
As soon as I wake up in the morning, I get that first inspiration and I don’t waste time. I grab a pen and paper and just draw it so that I don’t forget any detail
“She is an icon that I really admire. She represents fashion in an elegant way. And that picture’s more like ‘Let’s have breakfast at Ghizlan,’ the Arabic version,” Eman tells Gulf News.
“I wanted to give her the Arabic identity because that’s what I want my designs to represent as well. I want the fusion of culture — East meets West. So, I try to create everything using the Arabic elements,” she says.
Her unique style has earned Eman a reputation in the fashion industry. The title of the Most Successful Young Entrepreneur in Fashion and Design for 2012 from the British Council is proof of her growing acclaim. The award is part of the prestigious International Young Design Entrepreneur Awards.
Cyril Zammit, fair director for Design Days Dubai and a judge at the awards, describes Eman as calm and humble but passionate and assertive when it comes to her design. But what sets her apart, he says, is that “She knows her clients and anticipates their needs but also sets trends with her creations. I liked her approach that mixes tradition with modernity. She is a perfect example of the society we evolve in.”
In September, Eman will join 21 other finalists for a week-long industry visit in the UK. Their tour will include attending the London Fashion Week, curated group meetings, and peer networking.
“Eman has demonstrated an impressive maturity in her ability to run a business. This was for us, jury members, one of the key factors that made her a winner. Her trip to London will enable her to learn from her peers as their programme is exceptionally rich in meetings and opportunities to meet professionals from the fashion world,” Zammit says.
In just two years in the industry, Eman has established a broad clientele in the GCC without investing in advertising. Her involvement in the design and production process speaks volumes of her work ethic.
“As soon as I wake up in the morning, I get that first inspiration and I don’t waste time. I grab a pen and paper and just draw it so that I don’t forget any detail. I pay a lot of attention to detail. I know exactly the elements that I want to use for the piece. So, when I come and meet my workshop manager, I explain exactly what I want,” Eman says.
But her work doesn’t end there. She supervises the production of that piece “to make sure that it is exactly what I have in mind.”
Eman says she discovered this sense of assertiveness during her adolescent years when finalising her wardrobe for social functions.
“For specific parties I started being very selective. I would go to the tailor and tell them exactly what I wanted. And when I actually wore that piece, everyone admired it. So I got to know that I have a talent.”
It took one trip in 2004 to finally make her discover her passion. “It was that one instance that I was in Rome, a lady passed by and she really loved the top I was wearing. It was a normal top with some embellishments that I added myself. That day I said I want to be a designer.
She recalls telling herself: “This is where I want to have my store; this is where I want Ghizlan to take part in creating a passionate awareness of our rich culture globally.”