Interview With French-Saudi Designer Sakina

During Fashion Week in Paris, we attended a bridal couture presentation. Something that was quite different from all the shows we had on our schedule.

The designer was Sakina (whom we didn’t know at the time), and just after we attended her event and went through her unique pieces, we had to meet this designer and introduce her to you.

From her atelier in Paris, Sakina give us an insight about her past, present and future.

AM: Sakina, please tell us more about yourself and your career steps
I am 26 years old, of Saudi and French origins, born in France (Île de la Réunion) and lived in Bordeaux since the age of three.
My mom is a seamstress who worked for the Opéra National de Bordeaux. Growing up she was the one who taught me how to design my dresses, and every since I am a teenager I started wearing my own creations.
I chose fashion as a specialization and graduated from the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and worked for Chanel in embroidery, for Givenchy in pattern making and then as an assistant for Alexandre Vauthier.
In 2015, I launched my own wedding collection. A collection that is romantic and inspired from my personal life. I also launched my prêt-à-porter line of 18 pieces which is semi-custom made, and that celebrates Parisian craftsmanship.

AM: At a relatively young age, why have you chosen to establish your own brand rather than work for a big fashion house?
It was logical for me to start my career at big fashion houses before I pave my own route. And you definitely learn so much along the way from their expertise and from your own mistakes. However, the downside is that your missions are quite limited and you can’t fully express yourself. For this reason, I wanted to have more freedom through establishing my own brand.

AM: So then what are the pros and cons of having your own brand? 
As a designer, you always have to be self-dependent and have your own vision, a vision that I am always eager to bring to life. Of course, this is a long road and a huge responsibility as everything must be aesthetically perfect. Not to mention the business side of it and the networking aspect. It’s a mixture of talent and a business mindset.

AM: Can you tell us more about this business mindset?
I handle my image from A to Z. For instance, on social media I like to show my emotional side which allows my clients to relate to something that’s real and not staged. When you have a passion that you transform into work, your profession becomes your life. I don’t separate my personal schedule from my professional one, my atelier is my home, literally!
I also believe that success is teamwork. A strong team gets the creativity flowing and turns into an encouragement machine. Nevertheless, the key to getting everything done is organization.
As a business owner, you also need to understand the psychology of the client. For example, a bride is often determined and hesitant at the same time. She wants to express her vision of her dream night. And that’s why the emotional connection is very important.

AM: Going back to your vision, how is your creative process like?
My process starts off by going through fashion magazines and social media platforms like Pinterest and InstagramI don’t like copying designs because my dresses reflect my state of mind and I don’t believe in competition. I also don’t really follow trends because as they say “Les modes passent, le style est éternel.” I tend to be resistant to massive production because garments need to be ageless and not easily forgettable, and that requires scarcity.
So it all begins with writing down my ideas on a notepad or taking photos, followed by draping and molding the designs on the mannequin. Then comes the fitting and the pattern making to give form to everything. The next step is visiting fabric stores, my favorite hangout spot, and then starting the production at my atelier.
All my fabrics are made in France. I really enjoy my visits to the Marché Saint-Pierre in Paris and going through dentelle, which is my favorite fabric. A fun fact about me is that I truly enjoy sewing, which requires a lot of time, and is often a designer’s nightmare. A dress can take up to 30 to 40 hours of work.
At the end, I always like to show my designs to my husband to have the opinion of a man. After all, a woman dresses to impress a man. I appreciate the pragmatism in a man’s vision.

AM: What kind of client do you have in mind while executing a design?  
My target client is a woman who mixes both western and eastern values, in the way she is self-dependent and sophisticated. My target is not exclusive but rather a woman of every age, nationality and community. I love adapting my design to a woman’s curves, and that’s why I use mannequin-cabine of a realistic size that is 38 (European).
I don’t hesitate to help woman who can’t necessarily afford my dresses. I know the feeling of having dreams and not always the means to achieve them.

AM: What would be your proudest moment so far?
My favorite moment was in 2015 during the Armani Privé show, where I got to meet Mr. Armani backstage and who complimented my dress. The dress was made by yours truly, so it was a strong recognition from such a legendary name.

AM: Finally, what are your next projects?
I want to do a show during Fashion Forward Dubai and to promote my brand in the Arab world. Eventually I want to open my first boutique in Jeddah, KSA. I would like to give women there more options locally, so they wouldn’t have to travel abroad for shopping.

Sakina’s Favorites List:
  • Favorite Arab designer: Elie Saab
  • Favorite international designer(s): Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren
  • Favorite clothing brand: Chanel
  • Favorite model: Gigi Hadid
  • Favorite city: Dubai
Everyday Sakina:
  • I can’t leave the house without my: iPhone, which has my life. And my jewels which represent my memories
  • On a typical day you will see me wearing my: High heels. They always add confidence and elegance to a woman’s outfit
  • My current perfume is: Chanel No. 5 and Rose d'Arabie by Armani
  • On my current wish list is: A red Hermès Birkin 35 bag (which is always unavailable at the store)
  • My relationship with the gym can be described as: Very faithful, it is part of my everyday life
  • My guilty pleasure is: Dates and chocolate
  • After a stressful week you will catch me at: The Jardin de luxembourg in Paris
Editor’s note: Congratulations to Sakina, who since our interview has gone on a press tour in the Middle East. She is also launching her new collection this July. So best of luck to this rising talent. 

Checkout Sakina’s designs here

CONVERSATION