Saudi fashion designer Yousef Akbar: My choice for Masoom Minawala Mehta embodies the deep-rooted values ​​we strive to demonstrate in our designs on the red carpet

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The Cannes Film Festival saw a strong and remarkable Saudi presence during its 75th session. Sophisticated and luxurious looks came to us from the signatures of Saudi designers who raised the ceiling of expectations so that they flew in the name of the Kingdom in one of the most important international forums in the world of film and fashion. In this regard, we meet the international Saudi designer Youssef Akbar, who participated for the second time with a taste of the red carpet that carries with it modern elegance emanating from love and passion. In an exclusive interview with “Hey”, designer Youssef Akbar talks about his success story in the fashion world driven by fate, and tells honestly about the urgent issue of sustainability in the world of fashion, revealing some secrets related with his participation in a distinctive look that graced the red carpet at this year’s Cannes festival.

Your star has shone in the air of the fashion world in the world, what is your success story that does not get tired of telling?

From a young age, I loved drawing and art, and it was my way of expressing myself and what was inside me. I grew up in the city of Jeddah in a Saudi family, and like many families, the idea of ​​studying art or drawing was impossible because my parents expected me to graduate and become an engineer, a doctor, a would become a lawyer or any other. professional work unrelated to art or design, and far from this field! It never occurred to me to be in this field, nor did I ever think about it, but completely forgot about it. After graduating from high school in Britain, I joined the scholarship system, and thankfully, I went on to complete my university studies in Australia, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in logistics and supply chain management. I loved shopping and buying clothes, but most of the time I do not find pieces or fashion that I like, or I find the prices of clothes very expensive, so I decided to design my own clothes in collaboration with local dressmakers in Jeddah, until they got tired of me, and they did not accept to work with me, which made me very sad. At the same time I was studying for a master’s degree, and I had free time, so I decided to take a sewing course, to learn how to design and manufacture my own clothes without any intention of completing the course, or becoming a designer. ! And because I’m good at drawing, the university has accepted my affiliation, and you will laugh if you know that I did not know at the time that I had registered to study for a bachelor’s degree in this field! I was amazed that man-made work is considered a complex specialty taught at the end of the curriculum! But initially, studying the basics of fashion, design, and dressmaking was mandatory. If I do not pass this stage, I can not complete the program. It bothered me because I was not very interested in design, and I had no desire to study women’s fashion design, but I decided to continue because I was about to complete my studies.

What did you discover after studying fashion?

Studying fashion was difficult, and I found that I made a great effort to achieve success and reach the second year, to learn how to design and make my own clothes. But glory to God, with research and study in the field of design and women’s clothing, I loved the field very much, and discovered that I could express myself in this field, and that is something I have been thirsty for since childhood. At this point, my life changed, and I discovered that it was impossible to work outside the design field. Luckily, I finally got my bachelor’s degree in fashion and started my career in design and started my own company. I think the main reason for success is God’s success. The field of fashion is very difficult and full of challenges, and it takes a lot of effort and effort, but if you are passionate about your job, the job will be easy.

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Many events have recently influenced the fashion scene in the world, how have these changes contributed to your perspective as a fashion designer?

I try to focus on my design direction, and I do not care what is going on around me, because I believe that each person or designer has his or her own path and challenges. During the pandemic, I liked to seize the opportunity, focus on building the basics of work, strengthening the supply chains, making plans for the future, and being as prepared as possible so that I could return to the pandemic can work. I thought it was inappropriate to start a fashion group in such a time when people are suffering and losing their lives. During this period I was able to be in a strong position that enables me to grow and walk according to a clear plan, as God wills.

The characteristics of fashion have changed from general concepts and trends, and there has been a great deal of interest in following up on various ideas, opinions and trends that may have nothing to do with fashion, such as sustainability. Do you think this is a modern revolution what is the fashion world going through?

Some may see the concept of sustainability as a trend, but it has been around for decades, and people are now starting to learn about it, and care about it! Sustainability is an essential and essential concept in all aspects of life, and it has a very direct connection with fashion, because it is the second largest cause of environmental pollution in the world, and holds the greatest risks for our people, and for into the environment. in general. I do not think sustainability is a transient revolution that the fashion world is going through, but I rather find it a necessary turning point, as not planning for sustainability and environmental protection is a big mistake. The concept of sustainability must be one of the basic principles of work, especially in our time. In my opinion, sustainability is no longer just a choice that characterizes some companies, but it is a duty and responsibility of any company now, whether in the field of fashion or others, because we are responsible for this world that will be inherited by future generations.

What does sustainability mean to you in the fashion world? And how can Arab designers learn from your experience to follow this path in fashion design?

Sustainability is the basis of any decision and any work I undertake. As a designer in the “Youssef Akbar” brand, I see that any designer who works without plans for sustainability and environmental protection makes a big mistake, because this path is no longer an option, and I advise designers to take the issue seriously and start from today. There is a wealth of information available on the internet that helps to apply the foundations of sustainability to the fashion design and manufacturing process.

What are your basic conditions that you do not give up in design?

First: sustainability, and if I can not design a piece as sustainably as possible, I will not do it. Second: To be sincere in my work, and to let my designs emanate from me and express me and especially me, and pay no attention to currents and transient fashions. I always think of the woman who owns and wears my designs, because the happiness of this woman, and her satisfaction with my designs, is the measure of my success.

We see in your designs a mixture of boldness and simplicity in terms of puffy cuts and stylish flowing pieces, why this contradiction?

This is a very long discussion, and as I mentioned, designed for me is a way to express my inner self. Our people go through many experiences and strange stories and situations that affect us, and regardless of the difference in these feelings and experiences, they are all my own, and whether my designs are smooth or inflated, you will find that they have a connection point and a fingerprint of my own, and it’s clear and sometimes not clear, but I Of course I see it all. They are two sides of the same coin.

Many international and Arab stars have also played in your designs, such as “Nicole Kidman”. Who is the woman who attracts you to design?

Confident, smart, strong woman, all the qualities I find in my mother! She is, of course, a beautiful woman at heart.

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The Cannes Film Festival witnessed a strong Saudi presence as it teamed up with a group of Saudi fashion designers to coordinate the looks of celebrities on the red carpet. What is the importance of the designer’s presence in general in these global events?

As a designer, my interests focus on the person who shines in my designs, and represent the principles and direction of the brand. My choice of Indian content creator Masum Minawala Mehta embodies the essence of the brand and the values ​​we strive to demonstrate in our designs on the red carpet. The presence of any designer who chooses to take part in famous look on the red carpet is relatively important to reach the real customer who is looking for luxury pieces rich in the art and craftsmanship of couture fashion, in addition to creating of opportunities for content creation and interaction with the fashion community on social media platforms.

Are there behind-the-scenes secrets and events you can share with “Hey” readers about the true meaning of working to coordinate a breathtaking and memorable look?

It’s no secret, but everything comes at the last minute! I will not hide you, I have received some requests for custom pieces, but the work was not completed due to the circumstances. The dress “Masum”, in which she performed at the Cannes Film Festival, arrived on the red carpet on the day of her appearance, specifically two hours before her! And all her preparations were before the arrival of the dress. If we’re going to talk about secrets, these are the things that make me think the most, they’re hiding projects and collaborations that I can not talk about with Hollywood celebrities, and the secret of their success is to hide them until at the moment they are announced, so that things run smoothly.

How are standards of beauty measured in today’s fashion world?

I think the beauty scale is a very relative and personal thing. What I find beautiful, others may not see. Of course, the concept of beauty differs from one culture to another, even in the world of fashion, and the concept of beauty changes with time. It is therefore difficult to answer this question. To me, a woman with confidence is the most beautiful woman, regardless of her facial features or clothes.

Are you trying to show this natural character in your designs?

All my designs express themselves, but I do not try to show or hide a certain aspect of my personality in my designs, but rather appear spontaneously in my designs.

Is there anything you have not yet introduced to your brand?

A special group for weddings and a group of men’s fashion, God willing. The projects are currently being studied, and remain tuned in for the new ego.

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