The art of fashioning wearable sculptures

Designer Zaid Farouki packed his couture fashion and left Italy for the Dubai Design District (d3). He lets Yasmine Ziadat into his creative world of 3D printed crowns and shares his designs for empowered women

Tell us a bit about yourself and your brand...

I actually got my undergraduate degree in business administration and marketing when I was in America, but I had always wanted to work in the fashion industry. So after graduating from business school, I took the plunge and moved to Milan to study fashion design. I then moved to London and studied couture embroidery techniques at Central Saint Martins.

I had started the process of starting up my own company in Italy, but the realisation that came to me was that I wanted to create something where it was home. Although I had never lived in Dubai I had heard about d3 launching, which is the Dubai Design District initiated to attract local and regional designers. When I went to meet with them, it was exactly what I had envisioned and hoped for. The decision to move only took me a week. I just packed my bags and left Italy. The market in Dubai is still so young, it’s not as saturated as it is in Europe or the US and it was just a great opportunity to go back to the region, my roots, and launch myself from there.

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What is the main idea behind the work that you do?

It’s a cross between fashion and art. Everything is completely hand painted and handmade by myself right out of our atelier, and they’re mostly one off pieces. I do go against the fashion system a bit because I don’t launch collections every six months, and the things that I design can actually continue. For example the last theme was the Dripping Amends collection and it’s still valid. The way I see it is, you don’t take a painting off a wall it it’s six months old. Even if it's two years, three years down the line, our clients can still ask for a theme they liked in the past and we can recreate a piece from that collection.

Also our crowns, which were inspired by a play on my middle name, Taji, which literally means ‘my crown’ in Arabic, are actually wearable sculptures. They’re 3D printed and you can choose to wear them or place them as décor in your home. I wanted to change how people consume art. No longer do we have to have art just hanging around the house, we can wear it too. We’re working on a few upcoming projects that combine art, fashion and technology, so hopefully it will all blend together well.

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You don’t take a painting off a wall if it’s six months old. Our clients can still ask for a theme they liked in the past and we can recreate a piece from that collection

Zaid Farouki, Fashion designer

How has your international background influenced your designs?

As an Arab American who has lived all over, I always say that what inspires me most are American liberties, European clean cuts, and Arab drama. The brand is a mixture of all of that, as well as a mirror image of who I am as a person.

What has your involvement in Fashion Forward Dubai been like?

When I moved to Dubai I started my first collection, which was featured in Fashion Forward. Although Fashion Forward does not allow designers to showcase first collections on their platform, I showed it to them anyway, and they loved it. They gave me the opportunity there and then and it was very exciting.

Going through fashion history we learn that high heels were actually created for men first before they were created for women. This was because heels made it easier for men to hang onto their horse and saddle when battling.

Zaid Farouki, Fashion designer

What will your second collection be like?

The theme I am working on for my upcoming collection is inspired by the idea of the strong and all-powerful woman who defies social constructs. In the region we are increasingly finding more women uprooting social norms, and it’s this empowerment that I keep in mind when I do my designs.

What inspired this?

It was actually a couple of key historical moments that inspired me. Going through fashion history we learn that high heels were actually created for men first before they were created for women. This was because heels made it easier for men to hang onto their horse and saddle when battling. Eventually, this evolved and the bourgeoisie wore higher heels because they didn’t need move much throughout the day, it also gave them stature over their subjects. So when I began thinking of women’s clothing, and how their fashion is kind of defined by male ‘hand me downs’, I decided to turn the system on its head. It built up this image of a woman declaring her victory by stripping her former commanders of their powers by feminising their clothing.