Dar Nassem AlAndalos: Covetted Kaftans & Abayas with a Moroccan Flair
Dar Naseem AlAndalos is a unique Bahraini brand that produces a variety Kaftans and Abayas with a Moroccan twist. Covetted by stylish trendsetters, the Dar Naseem AlAndalos brand is actually a mother-daughter initiative, which is translated into beautifully cut and intricatly detailed creations inspired by their Moroccan heritage. Khaleejesque chatted with Hayaa AlFadhel, the young designer behind the successful brand Dar Naseem AlAndalos.
Tell us about Dar Naseem AlAndalos the brand?
Dar Naseem AlAndalos is a 7-year old Bahraini brand specialized in Moroccan Couture. We produced a new breed of kaftans that mix Moroccan work with Khaleeji designs. We embraced traditional handwork and applied it on modern and stylish designs. We design for bridal, couture, everyday kaftans and abayas all with Moroccan work.
Who are the people/person behind the brand? Tell us about the team you work with?
It’s basically just my mother and myself. We’ve been blessed to have a great family who helps us in managing the brand but the designing is all on my mother and me. We cover everything when creating a collection, from choosing the fabrics to overlooking every detail of every garment; we also deal with our clients personally and cater to their needs.
Do you use local artisans and materials for your collection?
We’ve never had the opportunity to work with local artisans because most of our work is Moroccan, so we brought Moroccan specialists. As for the materials we get our fabrics from all around the world, mainly France, Italy, Turkey, India and Dubai. We try to find the best quality and a variety of unique prints and fabrics. We try to do all the embroidery and handmade trims in our atelier but some trims and handmade belts are done in Morocco.
How did the idea to create this label come up and what is your prior training in fashion/design?
It started with my mother who’s originally Moroccan, she learned sewing from her mother and took courses in Bahrain. She started designing for us and for family and friends who always asked for Moroccan Kaftans. This gave her the idea to start a line of Moroccan Kaftans with a Khaleeji touch. I spent most my teenage years in our atelier helping her around and designing my own stuff. Even though I studied Architecture at first I realized that my passion was fashion design so I changed my major. I recently got my Edexcel BTEC Diploma in Art & Design and will major in Fashion Design this year in the Royal University for Women.
To create such a successful label at such a young age have you faced any problems getting to this point?
Like I mentioned my mother paved the way for me when she realized how passionate I am about fashion. We’ve had difficulties at first but people loved our unique approach in designing Moroccan kaftans that made it easier along the way.
Where do you get your inspiration for each collection?
Our main inspiration is the glamorous and elegant lifestyle that was once lived by Arabs in Andalusia (Spain), and we translated this to modern wear, which has the same elegant and royal feel.
Who are the audience you are catering to, the age group and where are they from?
Most of our clients are from the GCC, mainly Bahrain, KSA, Qatar, UAE and we’re recently new to the Kuwaiti scene. We actually design from 1 year olds up to their grandmothers. We love how whenever we design for a bride for her Henna night, her whole family joins in and half the party ends up dressed in Dar Naseem AlAndalos, each in a unique kaftan of course.
What was one of the biggest achievements to date of the brand?
Having pleased customers that love our work is the biggest achievement to us. But if I’d have to pick I’d say hosting a fashion show for HRH Princess Sahab bint Abdullah Al-Saud and recently participating in the Doha Fashion Festival with international designers like Abed Mahfouz.
How was your experience of participating in The Bride Show Abu Dhabi 2013 and The Doha Fashion Festival?
Every event is overwhelming yet exciting. The minute I step onto the runway after every show is like an out of body experience to be honest.
But at the end of the day I feel blessed and proud of being part of these events.
Tell us a little about what happens behind the scenes before and during such high profile events and if there is any particular incident that happened with you?
Like any fashion show backstage is always chaos. Our designs are a bit complicated especially with the placement of the belts and I’m usually running around in 6 inch heels making sure everything is in it’s place. A funny incident that happened in the Luxos Fashion Show in Qatar was that one of the models was wearing a jumpsuit backwards but thank god I noticed it in the last second!
What are some of the main requirements of your client in terms of color fabric?
Our clients usually consult us when it comes to fabric, color or silhouette. But most prefer silk or chiffon and mainly pastel colors. A lot of them choose the silver or gold Moroccan trim to stand out more.
What is the most popular design from your large collection that consists of Abayas, Bishts and Kaftans?
Women no longer want to wear a heavily embroidered Moroccan kaftan as it weighs them down, so they usually go for a 1-piece kaftan with an elegant yet subtle handmade trim and a belt. Our most popular look was a pleated pinkish nude kaftan/dress with silver handmade trim and a matching belt from our SS12 Haute Couture collection.
Do you have one particularly favorite item from everything you have designed to date?
Spending a lot of time in the making of each garment makes it hard to pick just one. But I’d have to say my best look from our SS12 was the off-white French brocade dress toped with a chiffon cape belted from the front. And from our SS13 the long sleeved French brocade mermaid cut dress with the draped shoulders and draped waist.
What are some of the local and international brands that have inspired you?
My top favorite designers that inspire me the most are Valentino, Georges Hobeika and Elie Saab. Regionally I’d say Rami Kadi and Razan AlAzzouni, I always look forward to see what they come up with.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I live by Leonardo da Vinci’s saying: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. I love dressing in a classic and elegant way and I’m a big fan of anything vintage. I don’t take many risks when it comes to silhouettes but I might wear a daring color from time to time. I also style my whole outfit according to the handbag.
Are there any Arab women who have influenced your style and inspired your designs?
Personally I’m inspired by fashion bloggers Dalal AlDoub from Kuwait and Nadya Hasan from UAE. Design wise, I’d have to say HRH Princess Lalla Salma, HRH Shaikha Mozah bint Nasser AlMissned and Princess Ameerah AlTaweel.
What celebrity would you like to dress in your clothes?
We recently dressed the gorgeous Mayssa Maghrabi but I hope one day we’d dress celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Alba.
Do you use any form of social media to reach a greater audience?
We’re on Twitter and Instagram (@naseemalandalos) and we have a YouTube channel to post our shows and interviews. I have a personal Instagram account (@hayaa_kf) where I post some behind the scene pictures and my daily looks. My friends encouraged me to start a blog, which I did last Ramadan; I use it as a sort of journal for my daily escapades as a fashion designer.
Are your designs available throughout the Middle East and abroad? If so, where are all you stocked?
We’re only available in our Atelier in Bahrain right now but we take orders and ship worldwide. Because most of our pieces are couture and have so much handwork we’re the only ones who can do alterations. We’ll be stocking in Jo La Mode Qatar soon and we’re still weighing our options in Riyadh and Dubai.
Where do you see this brand in the future?
We’re aiming to stock all around the GCC and with international retailers. I’m also working on a ready-to-wear younger line that’s inspired by the Moroccan embroidery. I hope one day to see women embrace the glamorous and elegant kaftans and wear them everywhere, not just at the annual Ramadan and Henna parties.
For more information, check out the Dar Naseem AlAndalos.