Some may say full skirts, frills and other such accoutrements have no place in day-to-day activities. We are not such people, and neither is Maha Abdul Rasheed, the 29-year-old Egyptian designer behind Dubai-based label Bambah. Her collections are an unapologetic celebration of all things feminine. But while the silhouettes and overall brand aesthetic reference Dior’s New Look of the 1940s, the Bambah girl isn’t just a lady who lunches and never gets her hands (or hemline) dirty. She’s free-spirited but Fierce, a force to be reckoned with on her path to world domination, in whatever domain she chooses.
“The Bambah girl loves to dress up and experiment with fashion as a reflection of who she is,”Maha tells Bazaar. “She dresses for herself and not for anyone else. Her personal style is about who she really is and about what makes her feel beautiful.”
The brand’s S/S16 collection, featuring its signature lace and silk organza, is revealed exclusively in Bazaar's November issue for the first time. The collection, which riffs on rich emerald green, was inspired by the landscape of Lake Como in Italy. “I wanted to create something extraordinary, something young, fresh and flirty,” Maha explains of her designs. “Lake Como has always been one of my favourite destinations. I’m fascinated by its colours. I’m also in love with the carefree and effortless attitude of the ladies you see as you stroll around the area. They’re laid-back, fresh and very confident, but still very flirty and romantic in a genuine way.”
Here, four of the region’s prominent go-getters share their stories of fashion frivolity and personal success, and tell how the two often intertwine...
Karin Fahmy wears top, Dhs1,650; shorts, Dhs1,785, both Bambah. Shoes, Dhs2,490, Christian Louboutin
Karin Fahmy, 29, Egyptian/Canadian, Recipe Architect and Food Blogger
“I like to find my inspiration outdoors. I used to live in Vancouver so I’m used to finding my inspiration outside,” Karin tells Bazaar. Her days consist of recipe research, trips to the farmers’ markets to source and buy ingredients and afternoons and evenings spent in the kitchen, creating raw and vegan recipes. “I spend very little time sitting down, or still, for that matter!” she says with a laugh. How then, does she mix the worlds of food and fashion? “Dressing up is part of my creative process,” Karin says, “I like to feel empowered by my clothing, and wearing a voluminous skirt or dress or a statement piece when I’m in the kitchen helps me when I’m creating new recipes.”
Elissa Freiha, 25, Lebanese/American, Founder of Womena (Main Image)
Since co-founding angel investment company Womena, Elissa finds her days to be a constant juggling act between “running a thriving business, being healthy, being creative, seeing my family and having a social life.” When it comes to her clothing choices she tells Bazaar that she wears whatever will inspire her. “My priority is comfort in self-expression and I find that brings confidence. And for me, genuine confidence is the best thing someone can wear. I have few rules and many lives, so I can experiment.” She chooses to eschew the traditional suit-and-tie approach to boardroom style and instead injects a sense of personality through her outfits. “There is no reason that finance deserves the boring reputation it has when it comes to clothing. I try to show a new energy, a youth and a vibrancy in my company, like I do in the way I dress. A fabulous full-skirted dress is perfect for my entrepreneur pitch events.”
Raha Moharrak, 29, Saudi Arabian, Mountain Climber
“Like most women, the way I dress is connected with how I feel and my outfit depends on where I’m going. Ultimately, I would say that I dress for function but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes choose looking good over being comfortable!” Raha admits, with a smile. She tells Bazaar she doesn’t have one favourite label, rather she “chooses what looks good on, regardless of the brand. Having said that, I’m probably the biggest Bambah fan out there. I love Maha’s unique revival of old elegance. I could dress in Bambah every day and never look bad.” Unfortunately, Raha’s day job – scaling some of the world’s tallest mountains – doesn’t leave much room for dressing up, so she particularly looks forward to those days or events where she can be in “civilian mode” as she calls it. “Because I’m known for a very rough, and let’s be honest, unflattering sport, I take every opportunity to look and feel fabulously feminine. I love to mix modern, everyday items with elegant, dressier pieces.” Sounds like a pretty sleek civilian to us. (Raha Moharrak wears top, Dhs1,915; skirt, Dhs2,600, both Bambah. Shoes, Dhs2,490, Christian Louboutin.)
Words: Maddison Glendinning. Styling: Sima Maalouf. Photography by: Pelle Lannefors. Photographer’s assistant: Sami Sasso. Hair and make-up: Marisol Steward. Special thanks to Byky. Prices approximate