Arwa Al-Ammari

Arwa Al-Ammari makes waves in Saudi fashion scene

Women in Saudi Arabia are making waves in the fashion world in striking ways. They are relying on their indigenous dressing style and adapting it to the modern outlook.
For one Riyadh-based fashion designer Arwa Al-Ammari, founder of ArAm, it’s not only an art but also a way to express her views without stinting. In fact, she is a woman of many talents which showcases her sparkling potential. She has been in love with arts in its many forms since her childhood. “I play music, paint and sculpt too. I learned to take professional photos and also participated in several school theater plays. In the middle of it all, I stumbled upon a whole new magical form of art — fashion design to make my mark in,” she says.
From then on, there was no looking back for Al-Ammari. She kept moving ultimately designing her own outfits which, all of a sudden, captured the eyes of people around her who later showed interest in buying her creations and the circle began to grow as a result. “At that point it occurred to me that I must refine my talent and passion by enrolling at a prestigious fashion academy,” she says.
Though Al-Ammari studied public policy, planning and financing and holds a Master degree from London School of Economics and Political Science in addition to an MBA from University of Leicester, UK, she changed her direction and delved into exploring the artistic genes that she inherited from her parents who are quite passionate about art. More or less, Al-Ammari started bonding with art at an early stage thanks to her parents. “Every summer they used to sign me up for art courses abroad. I took courses in different schools in the US and UK and got to learn about oil painting, sculpting, sketching, photography and so on,” she says.
As fashion was engulfing her heart and soul and to make her foothold in the fashion industry, she joined a French fashion school “ESMOD” where she studied fashion design. “The courses that I did earlier along with my passion for arts also helped in the development of my artistic vision and taste,” explains Al-Ammari.
Since the launch of her brand ArAm two years ago, it has become an influential name on the Saudi fashion circuit in a big way. Describing what makes her designs stand out, she said, “My brand is characteristic of four elements that give it a huge advantage. The designs are feminine, classy, contemporary and memorable. With this philosophy, I’m trying to portray femininity in a contemporary and classy form through exotic cuts and color combinations that are catchy and memorable,” she says.
The other thing Al-Ammari’s dresses are famous for is that their roots are deeply etched in her heritage. “Being a Saudi designer who comes from the heart of this region and having lived in Dubai gives me an advantage in terms of being able to understand the norms, culture, heritage and social fabric of the people in the region,” explains Al-Ammari.
Being highly exposed to the global village as an avid traveler who visited more than 25 different countries in 4 continents and living abroad enabled her to appreciate other societies, legacies, backgrounds, civilizations, and their arts and history. “This is what I’m trying to reveal in ArAm’s designs,” she says.
Talking about her latest collection and how it came about, she replied, “The latest collection of mine titled “The Ottoman Treasures” is inspired by the fascinating Islamic art of the Ottoman era; the majestic architecture of the Ottoman buildings, the breathtaking details of ceramics and sophisticated netting and carpeting. The collection was structured to create pieces that embrace the artistic patterns and art elements of that period in a contemporary style.”
She knows the type of women who will fall in love with the dresses after seeing her collections. “Women whose only priority is to look elegant and turn heads while moving in a crowd are my prospective clients. I’m always flattered to hear my clients’ feedback. When they wear my designs, they feel absolutely feminine and get compliments even from those who don’t know them yet admire their looks,” she says.
Each individual on the planet takes delight in things that inspire them endlessly. So Al-Ammari is no exception with a great taste. “My greatest sources of inspiration are travel, architectural and historical landmarks, and art pieces,” she says. “I get moved by paintings and sculptures. I absorb the natural sceneries; assimilate the color combinations and preferences of different societies along with other cultural aspects such as music and heritage that one often comes across in my designs.”
When it comes to fabrics and colors, Al-Ammari makes sure they really go with the theme of her collection. As she puts it this way, “Personally I like strong colors that have a statement. With regard to my designs I prefer to work with colors that serve the topic I’m discussing. For example: In the Ottoman Treasures, the color theme is rich and strong reflecting the nature of this era of powerful rulers and Sultans. Colors of the orient included the royal blue and green, deep red, aqua and turquoise.”
She would love to see her designed pieces worn by a variety of fashion icons who match her fashion dreams in every way. To start with, the first name that comes up on top is Sheikha Moza followed by Carla Bruni, Michelle Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker and Lupita Nyongo. “To me these wonderful ladies match my view of being fashionable in terms of femininity and elegance,” she says.
People in the Gulf and the Middle East have a high regard for fashion. They just can’t live without it. They love to dress up and follow the latest international trends. Besides, many of them are shopping at smaller boutiques hunting for pieces that aren’t accessible to all. “They are craving for new styles but at the same time have the willingness to pay more to dress fashionably and uniquely,” says Ammari. “This is where the Ottoman Treasures collection comes in.”
As the brand takes the Middle East by storm, she is considering about introducing other items like leather goods but shoes in particular. She wants ArAm to be seen as an international brand. “This is what I’m planning to reach over the coming years.”