Tags: creative director
One of the things I love about this city is the diversity it has to offer. Yes maybe I am terribly missing the galleries and museums of Europe – let alone the bars and gigs, but hey – you can’t have it all. And so, once again I found myself searching online for people that would somehow inspire me and fascinate you. This actually translates to one of my multiple online stalking nights, but the purpose justifies the means, right? Right. Aliya literally bounced of the screen with her amazing haircut and kimono meets Emirati clothes and when I found out she’s the one who’s designing them I had no second thoughts. I loved how her style and personality was truly reflected upon her designs, because once you get to meet her you can’t separate one from the other. Well, apart from the fact that one is a human whereas the other is a dress, but you get my point. We met at a secret location (more information on that at the end of this post) and Aliya danced in front of my camera and I just could stop shooting, because you don’t find that grace that often. Changing into her designs and playing around with her exquisite sense of style, she became a ballerina, a little girl, an alligator admirer and a climber and I had a very fun morning indeed. Aliya’s post is not just about her style, it’s about her grace in space and her way of capturing the environment that surrounds her.
Hi Aliya! I love what you’re wearing. Is it really pyjama pants?
It is! I wear them outside, just like regular ones! And almost nobody realises that they are actual Pyjamas. I love comfortable clothes. My friends once “hijacked” me to a night club, in an outfit similar to the one I am wearing on the photo, and I kept on telling them: “they’ll not let me in in PYJAMAS! And sneakers! It’s Dubai!” And when we arrived, bouncer asked me to remove my coat, cause it’s an outerwear… So, yeah… I can say that I partied in my pyjamas in one of Dubai’s clubs…
You’re originally from Kazakhstan, but have traveled the world and have been living in Dubai for the past 14 years. So how does all of this influence you?
A lot, I guess. At this point I don’t feel that I represent any particular country. I am a mix of all the places I’ve ever lived in, people I’ve met, things and situations I’ve experienced. It appeals to me not to be labeled by a nationality or by anything else. I think we are generation of neo gypsies that are not confined/attached to one place. We can just get up and go and live somewhere new. I just wish we all had global passports and no visas.
Being self-taught you surely have faced challenges. Do you have any funny or inspiring stories to share?
What I’ve learned is that every challenge is an opportunity to learn something new. If I did not understand something or couldn’t do it – I followed people that did, whenever I could. Everyone I met in life added something to my knowledge and skills. When I doubted myself or what I do, something magical always happened! E.g. I met someone, who I admired, who told me that the stuff that I do is awesome. And that boosted my confidence to the stars!
I love how you mix androgynous look with Middle Eastern design and Asian aesthetics. Your clothes are intended for girls, boys or both?
Thank you! I mix traditional fabrics with traditional silhouettes from various cultures. It’s a concoction of textures and details in minimal shapes. Just like me. Till now I had mostly girls buying it, but I get a lot of requests from guys as well. I’ve already experimented with more masculine cuts – I’ve made few pieces for someone special in my life!
How challenging is it do what you love and start from scratch?
It always is. It never gets easy. With every step you get more and more twists and difficulties. And you will always feel urge to give up and do something less challenging. And sometimes you do! But if the spirit is in you and love and passion to create or do what you love, then you won’t be able to live a comfortable but uninspiring and unfulfilled life.
Thanks for bringing your favourite stuff for our photo shoot. Can you tell me what they are and what they mean to you?
The Little Girl Diamond pendant – a gift from my little brother and his wife, when they had their daughter. I thought it should be the other way! But they are little creative weirdos. So I get it and it’s awesome. I love it. TAIR kimono coat and grey Kandoora dress. And a very first Basic dress I’ve made, embellished with Swarovski crystals. The pattern is a mix of 3 constellations – Pieces, Capricorn & Aquila. It has a special meaning for me. I’m not using these embellishments anymore. It was an experiment. My old and faithful backpack from Muji. Well not that old. Muji is my constant backpack supplier! When one gets destroyed – I get a new one! I love it. It does not represent anything. It’s clean and simple. It’s perfect. The “evil eye” bracelet from Alacati, Turkey. Suppose to protect you from an evil energy. It’s reassuring to believe I that something does. The Casio watch – a gift of love. My “China” Bear keychain. It’s been through so many keys, poor thing… It’s so easy to find it in any bag! That’s why I would never change it! The funny thing is when some people see it; they assume immediately that I’m Chinese! Nee Hao.
I’m confused. Your own brand is TAIR, but you also design for Anthropology of Design?
Yes, I am a founder and a designer for TAIR, but I’ve been also hired as a head designer for Anthropology Of Design – a brand founded by Futtaim Beljafla. It’s a unique mix of an Emirati traditional clothing, Japanese minimalism and Scandinavian aesthetics. It’s an intertwined effort of both of us. It was an easy union, because our tastes are very similar. Sometimes to the point that it’s bewildering.
Being in Dubai the past year, I have seen a lot of pumped up dresses and bling-bling and huge (fake) eyelashes when it comes to women’s fashion. Is it challenging to go for a more minimalistic approach in clothing?
It is and it’s not. I am not intending to become a mass brand. I’m just doing what I love. Simple. And luckily I find people that appreciate it as well.
You have done a lot of research on local dresses and clothes. What stroke you as the most interesting fact?
That a fabric made for a local men’s traditional dress “Kandoora” is made of recycled plastic in Japan. It’s loved here, because it does not wrinkle and has a certain softness and silkiness to it.
Who are the designers to watch right now in Dubai?
I admire everyone’s efforts.
You can find Aliya here.
A few comments on the things pictured above: The location of this photo shoot is imaginary. If you are living in Dubai, you should find this dreamy place. It is pretty cool. / Aliya dreamt of being a dancer since she was a young girl. But life takes you to places unexpected, so she saves the dancing for photo shoots. Lucky me. / Usually when I shoot people outdoors, I ask them to bring a couple of their favourite objects and they end up bringing nothing. I loved how Aliya carefully packed her favourite possessions and had a story to tell for each one of the.