Sadeem Alshehail: Haute Scholarship

By Sadeem S/S '17
By Sadeem Spring/Summer 2017 Haute Couture
A conversation with Saudi Arabian designer Sadeem Alshehail about her latest collections reveals her artistic inspiration and how fashion can be used as a medium for transcendence, writes Tanika D’souza

Born into the home of progressive Saudi Arabian parents, whose passion for academia fostered a profound sense of curiosity in the minds of their children, from an early age Sadeem Alshehail was a well-learned child. With an inquisitive mind and a creative hand, Sadeem spent her formative years seeking out the innate intricacies of the world and all of its beauty, from within and outside of Riyadh—the cultural cocoon she calls home.

By Sadeem Spring/Summer 2017 Haute Couture

Now one of the leading regional names in haute couture, Sadeem remembers her first encounter with fashion: when she would spend many days in her aunt’s atelier watching as her designs came to life. “Experiencing sketches turn into beautiful creations birthed a desire to create and execute my own designs,” she says. Drawing upon the importance her parents placed on scholarship and sophistication, the designer travelled all over the world enrolling in programmes and institutions that helped hone her natural talent. After spending a year at a finishing school in Switzerland, she moved to the US to study fashion design at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. After which, the committed graduate spent three years as a luxury brand buyer for Harvey Nichols in Riyadh before returning to the States, nine years later, to complete her Masters’ Degree in Design Management from the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York.

By Sadeem Spring/Summer 2017 Haute Couture

Sadeem has a strong commitment to craftsmanship. “When it comes to design,” she says, “I find that most of my inspiration comes from architecture and biogeometry.” This in addition to style icons like Princess Diana and Boy George play a fundamental role in the designer’s creative process. At a glance, one can tell Sadeem Alshehail’s creations are robust and dynamic in a way that inspires interpretation of the story and static in a way that inspires admiration of the theory behind it. In the designer’s latest ready-to-wear SS17 collection, Sadeem was inspired by New York City’s skyline. “The collection is an homage to New York; the city where my heart is and where I’ve lived for many years,” says the designer. Her affinity for the city is evident in the collection’s incorporation of clean silhouette lines and Art Deco ornaments that reference the Empire State and Chrysler Building respectively. The poetic justice of art imitating life, or in this case, art imitating art, is evident in the way Sadeem pays her respects to the complex simplicity of New York’s architecture. It is also indicative of the time the designer spends on ensuring her creations fully embody the principles of that by which they are inspired, as well as simultaneously taking on a presence of their own, without challenging the space within which they exist.

By Sadeem Spring/Summer 2017 Haute Couture

Whilst the ready-to-wear SS17 collection is in acclamation to the bold geometric forms of Cubism and the overall modernity of the Art Deco era, the designer’s couture collection alludes to a similar notion of sleek simplicity, but with an emphasis on craftsmanship and material. In collaboration with fellow Saudi designer, Nourah AlFaisal—founder and designer of Nuun Jewels, the collection celebrates the sophistication of yesteryears in combination with a luxurious spirit and finish. “Nourah and I found that we share a love of timeless elegance and we believed that our design aesthetics would complement each other well,” says Sadeem, who believes the collection’s portrayal of precision and opulence is the result of the two brands that share in their commonalities while compromising on their differences.

For more information visit bysadeem.com

This story was originally published in Villa 88

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By Sadeem S/S '17
By Sadeem Spring/Summer 2017 Haute Couture