Growing up in Canada and Qatar, Palestinian designer Faisal El Malak commenced his design journey in Paris where he trained as a fashion designer in Paris’ Atelier Chardon Savard. In 2010, he started getting invited in several fashion weeks in Morocco and Tunisia. Keen to tell his story through his work, El Malak launched his first eponymous brand in Paris, in 2011, and finally settling in Dubai in 2014. His newest collection, Collection 3: Morphology is his exploration in the study of non gendered forms, pieces that redefine the conventional beliefs of masculinity and femininity.
On Growing Up in Different Countries
I think growing up between Canada and Qatar has affected my aesthetic greatly. Very different things feel nostalgic and inspiring. Studying in Paris really refined my eye and gave me the tools to synthesise these different influences into a coherent concept that is at the end very personal and tells my story.
His Love for Arts and Design
I think I have always been interested in art and being creative. As a child, my afternoons were filled with after school activities from Art, to ceramics, to theatre etc. My first fashion memory was at the age of three in London, I remember visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum and being in awe in the fashion department.
I’ve always known that I wanted to tell my story and starting my own brand was the way to do that. The struggle when you start is that you have to do many different jobs and that takes a lot of time. Starting in Dubai gives you the opportunity to start in a young market that is still eager for local and new talents. The biggest element is that it’s important to start. Starting, even something very small, and taking the concept to the end result is a good way to learn and communicate about your brand. It’s also essential to collaborate with like-minded artists, photographers, graphic designers and pattern makers that can take your ideas and concepts to another level through their respective knowledge in their field. We are lucky in the UAE to be a close and friendly creative community and we are always eager to support each other in our various projects.
The Design Process
My main focus has been on hand-woven fabrics from the region. From Yemen and Tunisia, to Egypt. A few artisans are keeping traditions alive despite the difficulties in getting the next generation to learn the craft. Cultures are a part of our identity and it’s essential for my work not only to get inspired, but to actively work alongside the artisans to preserve and evolve the market for such crafts.
In preparing for a collection I do a lot of research and travel to where I am sourcing from. I get to meet the artisans and see their work in its context. I look back to history and tradition for inspiration but my main concern is to look forward and focus on creating an exciting modern product for the woman of today. I look at my work and see a vibrant intellectual woman wearing pieces that tell a story, a woman that can transcend trends.
On His Newest Collection
My collection acts as a travel journal. It tells a personal story built around Arab and Middle Eastern contemporary identity. Exposing the rich and diverse crafts of the region to a wider audience and creating a luxury product that will be the most respectful of these traditions. My favourite pieces from this collection is look number one, although contemporary it is made using handwoven fabric from the last workshop of Akhmim in Upper Egypt and hand embroidered here.
Discover Faisal El Malak’s newest collection in the gallery above.