The fashion scene in Egypt in the past decade has exploded with talent from fabulous local designers, and none represent this new wave of creativity better than custom-dress designer Nadine Makar. We sat down with her to discuss the developments in Egyptian fashion and how custom-design fits into the ever changing fashion world…
From fashion courses alongside her finance job to internships in Lebanon, Nadine was able to get the experience to kick-start her couture design house here in Cairo. Nadine Makar Couture focuses exclusively on evening wear and wedding dresses. “All fashion can show off the beauty of the women, but wedding and evening dresses emphasize it in particular which is why I decided to design this style of dress. My designs aim to showcase a woman’s simplicity, her beauty and her feminine side,” Nadine tells us.
Egyptian wedding dresses have a very different edge to wedding dresses from elsewhere in the world. According to Nadine, Egyptian weddings have a very “luxurious and glamorous atmosphere, and the fabrics and styles used for the dress have to show this.” But, luxury and glamour in fashion is not a static concept, Nadine has discovered that the Egyptian wedding scene has been transforming, “people are doing more weddings at beaches and destination weddings are becoming a big thing and that requires a specific style of dress.”
Custom-design is a very different world to the rest of the fashion industry, as an individual client is placed at the center of the design process. Nadine talked us through how a client’s initial request turns into the finished dress; “at first I get to know the client and find out about the occasion; then start working on a design that fits their personality and also fits my brand.” After meeting and drawing up initial ideas, Nadine is keen to meet with the client several more times, “I pay a lot of attention to details, which means that it is important for us to meet a lot so usually we meet around four times, including fittings.” This process takes around a month, from when they first meet to when the client gets the dress, although wedding dresses often take much longer due to their complexity.
Although a large amount of a dress’s inspiration comes from the client, according to Nadine, “all the dresses that I produce during a certain phase have different inspirations. I get inspired by many things, a lot of the time inspiration comes from the world around me.”
In her design-house, Nadine doesn’t just design the dresses, she gets involved with all the steps of the process such as the pattern-making and the stitching, and it has certainly been a learning curve since her studies. “I had never made dresses before my actual work. But because I studied every element of the process, I am able to do every stage myself. It is very important to have this background, even if you don’t do it every day because you have to control the workers under you; that is how you get good quality,” Nadine tells us.
What makes custom-dresses special is the uniqueness of every dress, “it stands out compares to anything else. Everything else you’ve seen before.” And not only does custom-made ensure that the client has a unique dress, they are able to have a dress that is made perfectly to fit them and the event, “custom-made also gives me a challenge of how to represent the client and my brand through my designs,” Nadine adds. The fast-fashion industry doesn’t just take away this individuality, Nadine also has other criticisms: “environmentally it causes a lot of waste and it doesn’t give value to the piece that you are wearing and it is hectic for the designers under constant pressure to find new inspiration.”
Egypt’s fashion industry is being flooded with new local designers pushing boundaries, something that Nadine is finding incredibly exciting, “I think we have great potential, we just have to know how to use our resources and focus on our workforce, if we do that the fashion and art industries will be booming. Perspectives towards fashion in Egypt is changing, they are open to trying new things when they see good quality.”
In the future, Nadine is planning on starting her own collections alongside the custom-designs, so watch this space for exciting things to come! Find her on facebook here and on Instagram at @nadinemakarcouture