#OmanPride: Amal al Raisi takes fashion to a new level

More sports Tuesday 03/May/2016 21:48 PM
By: Times News Service
#OmanPride: Amal al Raisi takes fashion to a new level

Muscat: Amal Al Raisi is one of the most popular names in the Omani fashion industry, and her brand ‘Dar al Aseel’ has earned a tremendous reputation in the Middle Eastern fashion scene.
Where the Omani fashion market is flooded with numerous designers, who are struggling to create a name for themselves, brands, such as Dar al Aseel hold a special place, owing to their quality of work, traditional touch and extraordinary finish.
Although now a renowned fashionista, till about a decade ago, Al Raisi would not have even imagined that she would ever make a career in fashion — a coincidence that has taken her by surprise.
“I started almost a decade back, and it all happened by coincidence. I was getting married and wasn’t able to find the right dress, so I decided to design my own and got lots of compliments for that. Later, I started to design for friends and family,” Al Raisi recalls fondly.
She did not study fashion, and is a business graduate. However, fashion was in her all along, without Al Raisi even realising it.
“I never thought that I would become a fashion designer one day, but yes, I always had a passion for details and colours, and only thought of styling my own clothes, never though it would be a job.”
After graduating with a degree in business management, Al Raisi worked at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for almost three years, but wasn’t satisfied, so she quit.
“When I quit my job, I only had a few clients then, and thought let’s give this a try and see if it works. When I started designing, I seemed to enjoy it a lot and so I decided it was the right job for me. I stared with designing traditional Omani wear and then moved to doing abayas and jalabiyas.”
Today, everyone recognises Dar al Aseel, but few are aware of the struggles Al Raisi had to go through to make her fashion house what it is today. “Initially, I had problems because I did not have a boutique or workshop of my own and I was outsourcing tailors, going back and forth with embroidery craftsmen, and sometimes even sending my designs to India to finalise. However, sometimes the work I received was not exactly what I wanted, so I had to return in and there were other related issues back then.”
But Al Raisi has never accepted failure, and now after almost 10 years in the industry, she says it has all been a learning process with trials and errors for everything she has done.
“Basically, I try out things and I see if they work or not, every time there are new challenges coming in the way, but they help you improve. If you want to improve, you find a challenge.”
Balancing family and work is sometimes very difficult for busy fashion designers, but Amal has achieved a work and family life balance, which she says is really important. “I have a very supportive husband, and I always try to balance my time between work and home and everything is literally planned ahead so that I don’t waste time.” Al Rasisi’s biggest inspiration is Arab designer Ellie Saab.
She recently launched ‘By Amal al Raisi,’ a parallel collection to Dar al Aseel, where she focuses on contemporary wear. Her designs have also been featured in two recent fashion shows in Muscat—the Wedding Fair at Shangri La’s Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa and an individual show at the Al Bustan Palace- a Ritz Carlton hotel.
According to Al Raisi, it’s the media which has brought about the change in the Omani fashion industry. “I think it’s the media, social media in particular, which have brought about so many changes in Omani fashion, but also because the mentality of society has changed. Earlier, they wouldn’t accept fashion as a career, but now society is more accepting.”
Her advice to young designers is: “Stay updated to whatever is happening around, always try to improve and adopt something new—sometimes we have this fear of trying something new, but you won’t move ahead if you don’t try new stuff.”