"I'm an artist, I don't see any rules I should abide by," Egyptian designer Mohanad Kojak tells Bazaar as he discusses the somewhat unconventional fabric choices - in this case, upholstery materials - that have been used in his S/S17 collection titled 'An Earthly Heaven'. Blurring the lines between conventional couture and ready-to-wear boundaries, fabric choices included, Kojak reveals the fashion highs and frustrations of his journey so far...
Harper’s Bazaar Arabia: You've cited Roccoco art as one of your biggest inspirations this season, what was it about this era that appeals to you?
Mohanad Kojak: "Art and history has always interested me. Rococo art belongs to the 17th Century and early 18th Century, both have a majestic feel to their clothing and style, I guess that's where I would've wanted to belong, in an era of complete beauty. The architecture and the interiors of houses during that time was also one of the main inspirations for my latest collection."
HBA: How does your Egyptian heritage inspire you?
MK: "Egypt is an extremely rich country when it comes to history and culture, it has definitely had its' share of building and inspiring me and encouraging my artistic side, but, to be honest, most of my creative influences come from international cultures and historic time periods."
HBA: Using upholstery and interiors fabrics in your designs was a bold step – what drew you to this technique?
MK: "I'm an artist, I don't see any rules I should abide by, hence I do what I believe in. I wanted to use these fabrics, so I did."
HBA: How has the Egyptian fashion scene furthered your career goals?
MK: "Unfortunately there isn't that much of a real depth in the Egyptian fashion scene right now, I guess my label has a voice beyond that. I want to create an international conversation so I can talk to a wider target audience with an open background."
HBA: In your opinion, is the Middle East supportive of up-and-coming designers?
MK: "There is definitely a movement towards that, but we still have a long way to go."
HBA: Was it your frustration with the local fashion scene that drew you to participating in Project Runway Middle East?
MK: "I started watching Project Runway a long time ago, even before I decided to launch my own brand. I knew it was something I would be interested in if the opportunity came up and when I got the call, I was more than happy to accept. It will always be a beautiful memory for sure."
HBA: Finally, what 10 year goal have you set for yourself and your label?
MK: "Within a decade I would love to have flagship stores around the world."