Ain Maha, the new collection by Maha Al Sagheer that was launched a couple of weeks ago, brought a new concept to ‘Made in Egypt’ accessories. Whether you’re going out with the girls for coffee or you just need a pretty head turner for a first date, this collection is the perfect answer for a genuine, yet wearable style. There is a variety of Messenger bags that have verses from Salah Jahine’s famous ‘Robaeyat’ blended with quality fabrics and real leather. There is a collection of chic clutches that that you could wear to various events.
We met with the designer to tell us about her original label.
So tell us how did you turn from managing Al Sagheer’s business to becoming a fashion designer?
Well I’m quite fond of anything that is fashion related, but I wasn’t encouraged as it’s not that easy to find quality fabrics around. I was overwhelmed with my kids as they were still very young and at a time I decided to schedule more space for them in my daily life so I was a busy mum, but now they became older and I decided to start following my passion. I thought of designing jewelry but I found that the market is jam-packed with jewelry designers and I won’t be adding something creative out of it so I turned to bags. The major factor that influenced me in becoming a designer is my mum. She was always that gorgeous lady who dresses up for events in glamorous outfits that become the talk of the town the next morning. She was a pro in fashion and trends and I was so much inspired by her. She has an amazing fashion sense.
So tell us about your new concept of this trendy collection?
I enjoy painting a lot, I took courses before and I have the talent, so I decided to merge my talent with my designs. I painted myself the drawings on some of the bags. I got a collection of different books about Egyptian culture and I did intensive research about Egyptian terminologies and cultural arts and architecture. I looked up the stuff that our grandmas used to have at home like the large clothes hangers and things like these. Salah El Sakka was my father in law and he was the director of the famous play ‘El Leila El Kebeera’ that had very deep meanings and philosophical theme, so I was also inspired by him when it came to the marionettes on the bags. All this made me come up with a new concept that is totally different from the Egyptian fashion trend some designers are heading towards, not that have anything against it but I only want a new concept to identify my label.
How do you collect materials?
I get the materials from Egypt but the accessories like zippers and so I buy from abroad. I think we have excellent leather materials in our market but the problem is with craftsmen they’re not always seeking the same quality you need. The leather I use is all pure and has no plastic in it, the fabrics are very rich and all natural as well.
Tell us three features that define your label:
Authentic, personal and funky. I say personal because the customer gets to choose her favorite vers from El Leila El Kebeera.
So as a designer, how do you update your fashion sense?
I attend fashion shows allover the world to learn about the international market as I want my brand to have a modern twist. I’m a familiar face when it comes to fashion magazine stands. I’m always that woman who comes and collects everything on the shelves. I’m a big fan of Vogue and Glamour and I also like reading books that talk about brands like Chanel, how the designers started and everything. As for my own looks, I don’t like to wear everything by the book, no, that’s not me at all. I could even wear a second hand vintage scarf that has a small hole in it from Portobello Market (laughs), but as long as it looks great on me I’m happy. If I’m going to a wedding, I don’t have to wear a glamorous dress, I could put on a sequined blazer and nice pants, for example.
Ghada Adel is the face of your collection, what did you see in her that reflects your brand identity?
Ghada is very credible for me as she likes to wear my designs. She’s a very close friend of mine and she’s really nice to everyone, in addition to being gorgeous and super pretty. I think she’s adding to me.
In your opinion, who are the most stylish celebrities?
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss, I like the bohemian look very much.
Who are your favorite fashion designers?
Alexander Wang, I like the new generation. Marc Jacobs is also very talented.
What about Egyptians?
Amina K, she has her own style, I respect her. Azza Fahmy is amazing, she started out nearly 30 years ago and now she’s global! Amina Ghaly her daughter also added a modern sense to the brand.
What is a must have for every woman?
I think that taking good care of your skin and hair is the most important thing. If you’re wearing gorgeous outfit and have oily roots, you’ll look terrible. A must have for every woman is definitely a good moisturizer. As for clothes, you must have the white shirt and the perfect pair of jeans.
Find Ain Maha’s collection at: Rania’s Corner, Al Sagheer Zamalek store and L2 Heliopolis branch