Palestinian Designer Faissal El Malak Just Won the DDFC Fashion Prize
COURTESY OF KHALEEJESQUE.COM
Ready-to-wear fashion designer Faissal El Malak just won the DDFC/Vogue Fashion Prize which includes a collective prize valued at $250,000, the opportunity to sell at Harvey Nichols Dubai, and Bloomingdales Kuwait, plus high level mentorship.
Established in 2015, Faissal’s eponymous label fuses old world traditions with modern luxury, breathing new life and a modern interpretation into traditional fabrics from Yemen, Egypt, Tunis and Palestine. Add to that his six year tenure at Parisian Atelier Chardon Savard and you have a sophisticated heritage luxury product that has the potential to breakdown stereotypes of the Arab world.
COURTESY VOGUE ARABIA
It’s interesting how at the end of the day culture and art will always be dependable tools to relay a region’s beauty. Just the thought of Faissal El Malak’s yemeni woven fabrics being showcased at a European boutique fills us with a little hope that people will see more to the region than blood and conflict.
When I think about Faissal’s upbringing, I acknowledge the fact that he could have easily turned his back on the region. The England-born Palestinian grew up between Doha and Montreal, he then worked in Paris and New York and could have comfortably stayed there as yet another global citizen.
“Having had such an international upbringing and identity, my time in Paris was a time of reflection and defining what was important to me, I realized that despite everything my Palestinian and Arab identities were something I felt strongly about exploring through fashion design.”
His genuine interest in the Arab world, brought him back to translate our heritage artisana into an international language. The lyrics description of his Tunisian-inspired Spring 2016 collection perfectly depicts this passion.
“Entranced by the rhythm of the handloom, its silk threads guide her through the labyrinth of Tunis' medina as though she were engulfed by the beauty of its heritage. From the silk stripes to the silver filigree jewellery, this collection takes root in the shaded stone-paved alleys of this age-old crossroads of civilisation. Her wardrobe serves as a tangible memory of her travels in her modern, urban life.”
After settling in Dubai in 2014, El Malak launched his brand in 2015, a contemporary Middle Eastern design identity that merged traditional artisan work with modern design. His interests took him on a three month journey of exploration through Palestine. “I really wanted to work with traditional Palestinian embroideries so I went to Palestine and I stayed there for 3 months, went around, met the artisans and all of that. But being there, I saw the limitations and knew it was going to be very difficult. Already technically speaking, to be able to go in and out easily, to import, export… It was a lot of hassle for a start.”
COURTESY VOGUE ARABIA
On returning to Qatar he discovered the traditional handwoven Yemeni fabrics that he also incorporated into his designs. With his modern and sharp design aesthetic the combination of old and new came to fruition. His collections have also included almost-lost Egyptian hand-weaving traditions, from Akhmim in Upper Egypt. His vision was soon acknowledged as one of the finalist of the first Dubai edition of Vogue Italia, "Who is on next" competition in October 2015.
His fourth and most recent collection for Spring 2018 for which he won the DDFC/Vogue Fashion Prize is titled, Echoic Momory. Drawing inspiration from mid-19th century pre-Raphaelite paintings, 1920s women’s fashion and the energy of the 1990s. In true Faissal El Malak style, he skillfully merges Middle Eastern elements into the mix to create a symphony of colors and traditions, all beautifully wrapped in a thoroughly modern style aesthetic.
SLIDESHOW OF COLLECTION :