The 1952 revolution dethroned Cairo as the fashion hub of the Middle East when celebrities flitted around the world decked in glamorous clothing as the cotton and linen industry flourished in the background. As for the recent revolution, there is optimism going around that the government will be able to renew their potential in the business. Many are putting their hopes on the up and coming designers determined to bring Egyptian fashion back on the map with a vengeance.
A New Hope
Temraza is quickly becoming a household name not just in Egypt but over here in the West, too. Farida Temraz, who founded the label, nabbed the award for the Best Female Couture Designer in last year’s New York Fashion Week. She told Fustany in an exclusive interview that her creations aim to exude elegance and a hint of royalty from which she draws inspiration. The label is only reaching its fifth year and yet, the designs of Temraza have already been worn on the red carpet of Festival de Cannes, walked esteemed runways such as the Paris Fashion Week, and are on display in select European stores.
Cult brands like Grandma’s Closet and Vecchio specialise in vintage pieces that make the wearer stand out from the crowd. Fast-fashion brands are quick to capitalise on this trend but real fashionistas choose the authenticity and richness of real vintage. Shoulder pads and retro flare pants, which Wight Catwalk previously admitted to being a fan of, are making a big comeback on the market.
Other homegrown brands such as Elia, Plum Plu, and Indira are included in Cairo Scene’s Egyptian labels worth recognising. These different brands boast diversity in clothing, footwear, handbags, and jewellery. LALA has a young following with its edgy yet practically designed accessories; The King’s Mother specialises in crisp and sleek blazers that can class up any outfit; and Cairo-based boutique Amr Saad launched an eyewear line which is reported to have a long waitlist for some of the designs—something remarkable for a three-year old brand.
Even non-natives like Lebanese designer Elie Saab alludes to the 20th century Egypt in his 2017 spring line. He told Vogue that he wanted to bring attention to the golden era when Egypt was the instigator for progress of the Arabic culture. The embroidery of the Nile River and Damietta, which reportedly took three weeks and twenty hands to accomplish, standout in his dreamy collection of couture gowns.
One thing that these brands have in common is the homage they pay to their land and culture. LALA displays the eccentricity of Egypt, a land with bountiful reserves of gold. Temraza’s 2016 line, aptly called The Rise of the Pharaohs, brings Ancient Egypt back to life with its bedazzled gowns of green and gold. Temraz mentioned wanting to ride the long-lasting legacy of Cleopatra which she demonstrates as a combination of feminine power and beauty.
The elaborate jewellery, coiffed hairstyle, gowns that managed to be both respectable and seductive are some of the trends that the Queen of the Nile have set. In fact, she continues to be the subject of countless literature, art, ballet, and textiles, and her stylishness are evident even beyond fashion through films, TV shows and video games. A new show titled Cleopatra is even in the works, which is dubbed by Deadline as an “epic, female-centric adventure” and aims to stay true to how the Queen of the Nile presented herself. Audiences can also take an enthralling journey into Egypt’s history with Foxy Bingo’s Cleopatra slots game where the pharaoh can be seen as extravagant as ever. These are testaments to how far the icon’s influence has reached—a move that many designers are resolved to emulate with their labels.
For the Egyptian fashion brands, taking bold steps is what makes them a fierce competition on the market. It’s respectable that they’re able to do so while staying true to their roots.