Faissal weaves fashion

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Faissal El-Malak is a designer to watch out for. He moved to Dubai in September 2014 and since then has been building quite the name for himself. Faissal is of Palestinian origin and was brought up between Montreal Canada and Doha, Qatar and studied and worked in Paris, France for a few years before returning to the Gulf and finally settling in Dubai.

His clothing label named after himself, Faissal El-Malak, is a women's ready-to-wear, luxury Middle Eastern fashion brand. What we love about Faissal's work is that although regional identity exists in the core DNA of his brand, there is also a strong focus on traditional artisan work from the region and in particular hand woven fabrics. He gathers and synthesizes these different aesthetics and ideas and the result is rather stunning. Playing on ideas of nostalgia and the reinterpretation of traditional elements, sleek modern pieces and looks emerge that appeal to a local and an international clientele.

We spoke to Faissal, who works from his studio in Tashkeel, about inspiration, the Dubai fashion scene and starting his own brand.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I travel as much as I can to get inspiration directly from the countries I am sourcing fabric and other crafts from. Most recently Palestine, Tunisia and Egypt. There, I go to as many museums, galleries, concerts, meet as many people as I can to really get the feel of the place. Walking around the street is something I love to do when I'm travelling. Seeing what old men and women are wearing as some are still wearing their traditional dress. I am very inspired by the art world and I visit all the galleries and exhibitions that Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi have. I think you can never have enough inspiration and all that information that you are feeding your mind ends up coming back at some point directly or indirectly.

How has it been starting a creative business?

When you go to design school you are not prepared nor are you taught to be an entrepreneur. The focus is on teaching you to be creative, to be an artist. Although creativity is very important, without the ability to produce what you are creating or for it to be bought, to be consumed for the purpose that it has, your work is worthless. I am still trying to find a balance in that sense. I think it's important not to lose your sense of creativity in the process of answering to the market especially when you are starting and have to prioritise where you will be investing your money.

How does Dubai help when you're starting your own brand?

Having started a brand after finishing my degree in Paris, Dubai is definitely a more favourable place to start a business. It's easier, more affordable and there is a general entrepreneurial energy that pushes you forward and makes you want to succeed and excel as the city is one big inspiring success story.

How would you describe the fashion industry in Dubai?

The UAE gives a lot of young designers great opportunities here. I've been lucky to benefit from mentorship sessions by DDFC (Dubai Design and Fashion Council) with Reem Acra and attending their talks on various subjects that still need to be addressed here such as intellectual property. I think that with their DIDI design school, that they have just announced for 2018, there will be an interesting mix of young creatives that will really change the structure of the fashion and the design scene here. It is through these kinds of mentorship opportunities and by meeting and listening to how other people have succeeded that you can move forward into being successful yourself.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I always remind myself that this is truly what I love to do and that I have that extreme privilege of doing it full time.

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