Five questions with Rahil Hesan of Warda Haute Couture
Dubai Fashion Week A/W 2010 might have garnered a considerable amount of critical response from the fashion community earlier this month, but while some of us kept going on and on about how we didn’t believe in the event anymore and how there’s so much to still improve on, others were savouring their moment of bright-eyed hope and heart-stopping anticipation. For many of the designers participating, it was a scary yet exciting time to be staging their own fashion show for the first time at DFW.
Rahil Hesan was one of those designers. However, even though it’s her first time to participate at DFW, the 30-year old fashion designer at Warda Haute Couture is by a no means a newbie to the high-adrenaline, it’s-crunch-time-all-the-time world of fashion exhibition.
Five years ago officially marked her debut into the fashion world with a showcase at a bridal show and the thread artist has been continuously writing quite the success story ever since. In a quick chat with La Moda’s Jim Joquico, Rahil Hesan answers five questions on her starting-out days as a designer, how Warda Haute Couture maintains a distinctive reputation, and how the brand has benefited from showing at DFW.
When did you start your career in fashion design and what made you decide to take the plunge? It’s typical of artists, we are usually born with a creative urge and I’m no different. Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with fashion – the combination of colours and fabrics continue to inspire me to this very day.
I grew up playing around with sketches and developing the skill, and when I finally left to attend the Cavendish College in London, I was the happiest because that paved way to my dream of becoming a fashion designer.
So I majored in fashion design, and after finishing my degree, I was determined to establish my own atelier. By 2005, I got the support of my family and friends to start up the business. Now, I work with a great team who are very supportive and with the hard work that goes into the brand, I’m finally living my dream.
Any memorable experience from when you were just starting out? In fashion, every step of the way is a milestone and is a continuous challenge where you cannot sit on your laurels and say this is it for me – I have made it. It doesn’t work like that. Every season brings its own inspiration and challenges which certainly make designing a fulfilling job for me. It gives me the opportunity to be creative on every level.
I remember when I started out about five years ago. I was so nervous when I signed up to showcase and exhibit at The Bridal Show. Since it was the first business-to-business exhibition that I targeted, I wanted everything to be perfect, there was no room for hiccups and of course this put a lot of strain on the team.
But the rewards of the show was amazing – the atelier received great reviews in the market and built on a lot of new clients thus pushing us to rise up to the challenges of creativity and innovation in fashion – the challenges that we are constantly achieving with great and positive feedback.
What was your inspiration for the collection you showed at Dubai Fashion Week? For Dubai fashion Week, I was looking for a wow factor – this was my first participation in the event so I was determined to create a collection that reflected the elegance of Warda Haute Couture. Because of my fascination with Hollywood fashion especially during the golden age featuring the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, I looked for my inspiration from this style era.
The sophistication and panache of old Hollywood is timeless and that is what I wanted to create in my collection as well. I have always admired Coco Chanel for its opulent silhouettes and Valentino’s femininity, and this exact classiness is what I pursued for this collection. Of course, I added my own touch of flamboyant attitude and glamour, making it unique to Warda Haute Couture.
How do you differentiate yourself from the other designers here and abroad? Warda Haute Couture was created with one objective in mind and that’s to deliver its own style that translates into the embodiment of a woman. Warda means rose and when you think of a rose, you always think of its spell: its magical passion, romance and femininity of a woman and the power of being a woman and this is what I also wanted to bring into my designs. Warda Haute Couture has a lot of meaning: W-wonderful, A-attitude, R-royal and rich, D-desirable, A-attractive. This is what we stand for with every style that we create – these factors remain constant.
How has your participation at Dubai Fashion Week helped your atelier and you as a fashion designer? Dubai Fashion Week provided me with a platform to expand the brand reach and awareness. Although Warda Haute Couture had been known for its couture collection, we have now started a new Prêt-a-porter line which we launched during Dubai Fashion Week.
The event is really an eye opener; it certainly put things into perspective especially in the growing fashion industry in this region. Brand exposure was my key objective and I think I have achieved that through my participation at Dubai Fashion Week. The event allowed me to promote Warda Haute Couture and my newly-opened atelier, and of course, the team behind the brand who are definitely my support system.