The fashion sculptor – A conversation with Feyrouz Ashoura
Behind the creative mind
The first time Buro 24/7 meets Feyrouz Ashoura was during a pop up at Sake No Hana Dubai, showcasing her designs. She was immediately captivating; the aura of positivism, the eclectic variations of her outfit and the smoothly provocative accessories. And so we yearned to know, what goes on inside this creative mind, assembling divergent pieces to construct a garment, an outfit, a personality so harmonious.
We sit down to find out more about her perception of style, her inspirations and her latest finds as talent hunter:
Why fashion? Why Dubai? How did it all start?
During my studies in Paris and my exchange in the fascinating city of Tokyo, I came to realise that fashion is limitless. As a designer, you have the biggest liberty of all; you define what people wear and therewith have an influence on their lifestyle. You don't submit to any trends or consumer behaviors; a true fashion designer to me is one that identifies and fulfills a need before the eyes of the costumer, making them aware of their own desires that they did not have the chance to discover in their taste yet.
Eventually my intense curiosity for fashion and its variety led me to different places in the world, among which were London, New York and latest Dubai, a hub filled with limitless possibilities and networking opportunities.
Having consulted in buying in two completely different fashion stores of different positioning, I have established for myself a network of buyers and designers globally that helped me with my purpose as a buyer myself to fulfill this interconnectedness in fashion, in addition to experience multiple facets of merchandising and market behaviour patterns.
With time, I considered it as a natural evolution for me to work independently as a global talent hunter.
In the past, I found myself standing at an antipode before even entering the fashion world, as it was going in one direction and I was heading to another, which personally created an inside force, pushing me to wonder where the heart of the fashion world lies. Eventually, an epiphany proved me that I wanted to create and contribute to the fashion industry in my own way, which is how I started my journey in fashion design.
Those living in Dubai cannot deny the ambition of the Emirate, and the government's motivation to innovate constantly in every way possible.
Innovation to me is a very powerful keyword. Dubai being such a young market, has plenty of space and support to be an innovator for originality and novelty in the fashion world, just like it is a leader among international cities in many other aspects of art and economics. Also, I found Dubai to further my experience in fashion in what it offers as networking perspectives.
How do you define your personal style?
If I want to speak about my personal style I would definitely push the philosophies that guide it on a day-to-day basis. It is a usual thing to theoretically choose some words that impress us and apply them to what we create and wear. However, I base my style on reflections that interconnect with feelings and the essence of the world we live in today.
I don't necessarily want something to look nice or pleasant to the eye; everything I create, be it in my fashion or personal style is a quest to trigger any emotional reaction, whether it is positive or negative; the most important is the magnitude of the impact.
Art is supposed to make you feel something, as opposed to only deliver a plain superficial judgment.
I like to intrigue and provoke cogitation with something unexpected and unseen and observe the response of the surrounding.
What do you look for when you "hunt"?
I refuse to consider any differentiation between designers, such as country, ethnicity, age, style, technique, creative movement or such; the only thing that matters to me, and paramount criteria is their visionary eye, exceptional approach and timelessness in their designs.
You attended Riga Fashion Week in Latvia at the beginning of April. RFW is in its 20th edition and 10 years running. How was the experience there?
I had been invited following a collaboration I have started with a concept-store founder in Riga. It was very interesting to discover the diverse selection of shows and meet the local and regional designers as well as experience their creative universe.
What I love about the fashion weeks in these regions is the close human proximity in interaction and the dense concentration of global business opportunities that all happen over a short period of time at the show and around it.
In fact, unlike the huge fashion weeks in the world fashion capitals, platforms like Riga, or even Ljubljana, which I attended last season, are not oversaturated. That means that these "newcomer" cities like Riga offer a window of space and time where people interact on a more natural and spontaneous basis, which is something I love. In that context, you get to meet interesting people who are more comfortable in social interaction, and such things are rare to happen in places such as Paris or NYC, the reason being it is hard to filter and find such a transparent interaction among these huge anonymous crowds.
How do you compare RFW to Dubai's Fashion Forward, for which its 3rd season just came to an end?
The advantage Dubai has, is its geographic positioning and the melting pot it is built of. That very well reflects in the diverse cultural influences of creations and international attendance to the fashion days here in the UAE.
Nevertheless, I would love to see a more limited selection in the designers, (as I believe in quality over quantity), and I am convinced it would enhance the values of exclusivity and prestige that Dubai stands for, towards the rest of the world.
Dubai without any doubt has what it takes to align along the big fashion capitals, through staying true to its essence and shaping its own destiny in the fashion industry.
Who are your top three findings so far?
A Degree Fahrenheit, from Tokyo, Japan
I cannot describe the emotions that the runway show triggered in me, as well as meeting the designer and trying on a few pieces of his collection.
The meticulous attention to detail, while perfectly following functionality and cut, the poetic selection of textures and colors alongside hearing his personal brand statement, was a precious discovery.
The timelessness and modesty in his designs is a feature that has enormous potential in our region, for which I am excited to be part of the brand's introduction in the Middle East very soon.
WXY, from Taipei, Taiwan
This shoe brand is one of the recent findings I must admit I am the most proud of. The young designer is catering very sophisticated and elaborated designs to both women and men, and managed to execute this idea into a product that is bold, yet extremely subtle.
I am honored to count this unique and intricate brand amongst my protégées that in my opinion is definitely one to be on the watch.
Allaroundeve, from Ljubljana, Slovenia
Allaroundeve is a visionary brand. The power woman behind it, Eva Ana Kazic, has years of experience in dealing and collaborating with an impressive range of designers from Paris all the way to Russia, which has contributed to her internationally connected and renowned name.
The products, she has finally decided to put on the market is a range of genuine leather luxury bags and accessories that are a fashion statement by themselves. What I love about this brand is the empowerment they provoke through their well-executed designs; Allaroundeve is depicting a strong fearless woman that is ready to take over the world, and that is very much obvious once you see the brain behind it.
When you don't talent hunt, you create your own designs under the label Feyrouz Ashoura... Tell us more about your creative process.
My approach to fashion design is much more artistic and driven by unvoiced thoughts and reflections.
I believe it is the true essence in the artist that I am that seeks expression of my art through the media of fabric and texture, on a canvas that is the human body; that is why I call myself a fashion sculptor.
That process is executed through various methods of fabric manipulation and craftsmanship. Working on my designs and inventing new techniques is a form of deep introspection into myself and at the same time meditation during the long hours of intricate concept research, engineering and handiwork.
What influences you the most?
My biggest influences are driven by what moves me and provokes a sense of euphoric fascination and obsessive curiosity. I find constant inspiration in God's creation - the human anatomy, the flora and fauna. Also, my collection concepts always revolve around an intriguing clash, which I try to translate into a visual debate between two extremes.
Subjects that often influence that thought process are often the human kind and its situational behavior.
You once said about your creations "I did it once, why should I do it again?" Can you elaborate on that?
As I said, I have no shame in considering myself more of an artist in the design process, which leads to my perspective of bespoke, one-off exclusive pieces that embody the original roots of couture.
A painter would never paint the same painting twice. Because he already knows that he will never be able to reproduce the exact same painting by any means.
I see no genuineness in a repeated experience; it is as if we are forced to sense something in a way we are aware we will never be able to feel again.
If you were not in fashion you would be:
Your best fashion investment is:
My limited edition Margiela pony hair boots and the python I bought to make my own 'Breathtakers' jacket.
The most powerful thing about fashion is:
It will always be a global human need with limitless power of influence.
In 2015 you will be:
You will find out soon enough...