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Atelier Zuhra’s Rayan Al Sulaimani on promoting Omani fashion worldwide

Rayan Al Sulaimani - Atelier Zuhra
Rayan Al Sulaimani is a fashion designer from the culturally-rich and picturesque Sultanate of Oman. Following her mother’s footsteps, she grew her family business and pushed fashion from her homeland to the forefront as she showcases Atelier Zuhra’s exquisite designs during fashion weeks in Paris, London and Dubai. 

Photographer: Yang Wang - Stylist: Victor Concepto - Model: Patricia - Makeup & Hair Artist: Zlata Stolyarova from Lena Yasenkova Team

AM: Rayan, how did your story with fashion first start?
I’ve always loved anything to do with fashion from a young age. I would admire anyone that has a taste in fashion and is into it. After high school, I wanted to become a designer but at that time the industry wasn’t encouraging due to it not being a reliable source of income. Years later, when my mom was designing at the atelier, I would suggest ideas and spend a lot of time and learn from her, and that’s when she realized how much interest I had in fashion and supported me to join her. So, since 2015, because of my solid business foundation alongside my adoration for fashion, I chose to assume control over the house to get completely occupied with the business in both structuring, administration and design of Atelier Zuhra.

AM: You have carried on with the direction of the atelier after your mom, how much of a challenge was it?
As a fashion designer and CEO, the biggest challenge that I face now are the impacts of the COVID19 pandemic. This has affected the fashion industry in many ways; shows have been cancelled, celebrities and influencers no longer attend events, hence reducing our brand’s exposure. Luckily, we used this opportunity to cut down costs, diversify our product line to include denim products, referred to online platforms to have client consultations, and produce outfits purely without physical contact.

Atelier Zuhra
Dress, Atelier Zuhra.

AM: How would you describe your creative process?
Most of my creative influences are derived from art and culture, I travel to draw inspirations from other countries, apart from that I am inspired by Mother Nature herself.

AM: Who is the woman you have in mind when you design?
We design for women who really love to wear impressive dresses, creatively beautiful combined with different variation of unique pieces which allow them to outshine their true beauty from within. The message we try to bring to every dress is that she is strong, bold and adventurous.

Atelier Zuhra
Jumpsuit, Atelier Zuhra.

AM: Being one of the few famous Arab female fashion designers, do you think a woman has a different offering to her clients?
I believe women nowadays are very educated, aggressive and ambitious and are capable of achieving their goals and objectives just like the men if not even more. For instance, we see a lot of Middle Eastern women rated in Forbes as the most successful businesswomen in the region, let alone the fact that they also have kids and family. They are more than able to balance their personal and professional lives.

AM: And what is your advice for any designer who wants to follow in your footsteps?
The most important advice I have learnt is that “Patience is key” to everything. Success is not served to anyone on a golden platter. It is very important to work hard, stay disciplined and continue to look for inspirations to keep creating more. More than anything, it is paramount to be humble, stay true to yourself and your work.

Atelier Zuhra
Dress, Atelier Zuhra.
AM: You have recently presented a collection in Paris. Can we expect you to showcase during Paris Fashion Week soon?
Yes, Paris Fashion Week was always a dream and being part of it this season was amazing, I look forward to doing more presentations and fashion shows every year and growing in this city.

AM: A career highlight?
One moment I'm particularly proud of is when I had to design a bridal dress to my client during the pandemic; taking her measurements via zoom and trying to fulfill her choice. I can’t explain the feeling when I received a video from the bride tearing up as she never thought that she will have a dream dress and received one beyond her expectations.