Whenever we think about the fashion industry in Egypt, Marie Louis immediately crosses our minds. She is a true Egyptian success story, a fashion guru and business woman who created her fashion empire in 1989 bringing a new wave of style to Egyptian women. Like father, like daughter; Marie’s father Louis Bishara is the founder of Bishara Textile and Garment Manufacturing Co. BTM.
Being the one and only fashion retailer for modern women in the late 80’s, ML had no competition. Today, with the opening of lots of malls and global brands entering the Egyptian market, the challenge is born. “Being alone in the market was a great privilege. It allowed a great positioning for the brand, but challenge is good. It encouraged us to come up with 6 other lines under the same roof of ML in the past 24 years”, Marie tells.
With women getting more conservative than before on the streets of Egypt, ML decided to meet with clients’ demands, “when we work on a suit with a skirt for example; we create the same design with a longer one or with pants instead of the skirt. Egyptians became more conservative and some of our clients are veiled and some are conservative”, she says.
One of the great lines of ML that has been a success through the past few years is Marie Louis “Beauty”, a special line that targets bigger women with extra sizes. “It was a special request from bigger women, and I started this concept right away. I believe that every woman has the right to be beautiful, to wear what she likes and to have a lot of choices”, she tells. Confidence is what women want to feel at work, at home and walking down the street and some women think that what she wears triggers confidence, “Inner confidence has nothing to do with what a women is wearing, clothing is just a packaging. Yes, the image is very important but it should be next to your main and inner core, value of your work, the way you talk, walk or even the way you eat”, she comments.
Having the same quality as global brands, ML makes sure that she stays above the line in each and every collection through the past couple of decades, “I always push my standards. We keep high end quality and fine designs that are long lasting. Our clientele can wear a jacket from 2008 today if they spice it up with some accessories. This what defines a proper line that is well established”, she says.
For more than 20 years in the fashion industry, Marie Louis has established itself as one of the greatest fashion businesses in Egypt and Paris as well. Yes, Paris! She showcases her collection at the Paris Fashion Week on regular basis.“We also have a commercial office in Paris. I send my work samples and they give us a report on it. I work very closely with the global market. Our brand has a special character but is suitable for the contemporary market as well. The new line Tiyi by Marie Louis is sold on the famous French online store Brandalley.fr”, she says.
Tiyi, the new line by ML has a very special character. The cuts and colors are very modern yet reserve the Egyptian touch. “Tiyi is the first Egyptian queen to rule Egypt. The line represents beauty and power”, we are told.
Marie believes in the importance of team work and introducing fresh blood to her team of designers. “I have a team of young people who are helping me. I put the main input and we work on a geometric line together. Someone would propose an accessory, another one would have a new idea and we combine everything together. They don’t have to be graduates of fashion schools they can be people who studied International Business for example but enjoy design and have a nice taste for fashion that’s all. Everyone receives a training first before they are employed at ML”, she explains.
Running a fashion empire and having two children, Marie proves that she is a super mum. “I double and triple my hours of work. I wake up at 4:00 am whenever I have a new collection. I truly believe that it’s never hard when you are passionate about something”, she adds, “my children are doing great, I have a daughter who is going into fashion and a son who is a graduate of Luxury Management”.
The mother, business woman and fashion empress truly knows what women really want, “A woman wants to be appealing, successful in a loving surrounding and her duties to be well appreciated by everyone around her”, she says.