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From Fashion Aficionado to a Fashionista

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Henna Aswani looks back at her journey as a budding fashion designer and shares her insights on what it takes to launch your own label in Dubai. 

  • About your background and why did you choose fashion designing as a career?

A vivid dreamer and a fashion enthusiast, as a young girl I grew up in the energetic social vibes & the glitterati lifestyle of Dubai. I completed my masters in International Business Management and kick started my career as a Market Research Supervisor at Dubai Airports. 

However, I soon realized this isn’t what I desire to follow and that I wanted to express myself through the creative instincts in me. I had a great sense of creativity and color aesthetics from a very early age, and hence I realized my passion is to design and create garments. I decided to take up designing professionally. After completion of my Styling and designing course, I started my label at home and designed and reconstructed outfits for my near and dear ones. 

Much appreciated, encouraged and loved by many, I launched my label ‘Ravishing’ in 2016 at a fashion event ‘Fashion For All’. And since then there’s been no looking back. In 2019 I setup my full-fledged studio by the name of Ravishing Couture.

 

  • What according to you is a favorite part of being a fashion designer?

My favorite part of being a fashion designer is the fact that I’m able to dream and give it form. There’s also the fact that there is no dull moment in my life. I enjoy the creative, artistic and technical aspects of designing an outfit. I love designing for myself for every occasion which allows me to experiment looks on myself and the fact that there’s no end to learning, exploring and developing designs that look best on me and my clients.

  • The designs you created are no doubt good enough, but who and which things inspire you while creating designs?

I’m a great observer and I have my own static when it comes to getting inspired by other designers. I try to inspire myself with other collections that are similar to my intention and find my train of thought. Moreover, I believe everything is inspiration when the artist is inspired. We designers are worshippers of beauty, nature, art, architecture, music, people. The list is chaotic and endless. I guess everything around me combines with the inner imagination and it is this dance, which leads me to create an expression in the form of fashion. For example, my S/S ’21 collection “ANTHEIA” is inspired by nature. It solemnly means ‘Goddess of Gardens & Flowers’. The soft prints and light and airy styles dominate this summer’s look. I’ve created outfits that have increased mobility and are versatile.

Also a few Indian designers that inspire me are; Gaurav Gupta, known for his sculptural couture of fluid yet sharp designs, Masaba Gupta for her fun, happy and mood-lifting designs, Manish Malhotra for his Regality in his work, and Anamika Khanna for her art and meaningful style.

 

  • What skills according to you are necessary for a Fashion Designer?

I believe that an inherent aesthetic sense is most important when aiming to be a fashion designer. Apart from this, it is important to be able to develop ideas and work on them tirelessly, EVERYDAY!

 

  • How do you stay up-to-date regarding fashion and describe your personal style?

Well in today’s ever changing fashion scene, I keep my research going to stay updated on the trends. All the fashion-savvy insta handles are what I scroll at my breakfast table every day to keep in check with the industry. 

However, for me it’s not about wearing trendy clothes, or blindly following what the rest do. I believe fashion is science; it is a way to evolve. When you find your own sense of style, you tend to adapt to what is and isn’t trending, and then making sure you suit it to your own personality in some way. I believe it is important to let fashion be a way to see your personality.

 

  • Quite a few influencers/bloggers in Dubai are seen wearing your outfits. What is your design mantra?

Yes, I have designed for influencers like Jumana Khan, Pinky Francis, RJ Bhairavi and actress Pakkhi Hegde to name a few. My design mantra is to stay true to myself. I do what I believe in, work hard to keep my clients happy and I don’t necessarily follow what others are doing. Whatever I do, it’s from my heart and I’m willing to experiment at this stage. 

  • According to you, who is the most stylish celebrity?

Well for me the definition of a stylish celebrity is who looks equally great both on screen and off-screen; and I’m talking about someone who can pull off a pair of jeans and a simple tee with as much panache as a luxury designer wear. And in my opinion it’s Deepika Padukone! She carries off everything with poise. She looks stunning yet comfortable in every outfit she wears. 

 

  • Fashion is constantly evolving, how do you keep up with the pace?

When I started two years ago as a fashion entrepreneur, I knew this would be a challenge. It is one of those professions where you have to keep evolving. Trends change rapidly and we need to adapt to these changes to thrive in the ever-growing and competing market. Fashion is challenging but comes naturally to me. I’m also very accepting and I’m not stuck with the fact that whatever I do is right; I’m happy to incorporate changes. That’s what keeps us going and growing in life, both personally and professionally.

  • What, according to you, are the top fashion trends set to dominate the near future?

Statement and comfort are what describes 2021 best yet and in my opinion this is here to stay for longer. Comfort will be a very important element for people, whether it is comfortable fabrics or comfort driven silhouettes. Versatile statement pieces will be a big trend over the upcoming festive season. I think people will buy pieces that they can later multitask to create multiple looks giving them a bang for their buck!

 

  • Can you tell us about your brand Ravishing and its Aesthetics?

Ravishing is known for its fusion wear, where I design clothes that are very different but traditional at the same time. However, with weddings and events getting more intimate and efforts shifting towards sustainability, my collections now has a degree of both; simple daily life wear pieces and special pieces that one would only wear for weddings or special occasions. 

I work a lot with draping and that’s my brand’s highlight. The cuts are often loose and more quirky. I like to play around with my garments, be it with the silhouettes or texturing while also keeping the wearability aspect of the garment in mind.

  • Tell us something about the target audience?

I’ve never had that archetype woman and I wasn’t really fan of the idea that you focus on your clients based on age and everything. I want to create something that makes my client feel beautiful and confident about herself. It doesn’t matter if she’s a 16-year old girl or a 60-year old woman. It is a question of taste and I try to be exclusive to their taste. Hence in 2016 I launched my first collection at a fashion show named “Fashion For all”, where women of all age, color and body type walked the ramp dressed in Ravishing. Ravishing outfits are meant for a lady (no matter what age group) who knows her personal style and is ready to experiment with new cuts, colors and styles. I’ve created my own signature style and all my designs reflect a certain kind of feminity.

 

  • Finally, what’s your vision for Ravishing? What’s next?

My vision is to design, create and alter a women’s mindset by making them feel great about the way they look and style an expression of each of their personality. I believe every woman is beautiful and has the right to look pretty and hence my concept is that all my garments celebrate feminism. 

What’s next? Well my plan is to expand and take Ravishing overseas and that’s something I’m working on. Ravishing menswear is part of the future plan too. But apart from that I don’t even know what’s next in the fashion industry and that’s the beauty of fashion. If we know what we’re going to do two years later, it becomes boring. I think super specialization is the way forward, where you know what you’re really good at and choose that instead of dabbling into everything. 

So cleansing the palette is how I would look at it.

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