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Saudi Fashion at the Forefront: Atelier Hekayat by Power-sisters Alia & Abeer Oraif

Atelier Hekayat
Behind every established brand are master-minds working tirelessly to bring their vision to life. Atelier Hekayat, a fashion label based in Saudi Arabia, is no exception. What sets this Maison apart is the unique partnership of two sisters who have combined their talents and passion for fashion to create something truly special in an emerging Saudi market. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of traditional Middle Eastern fashion, the duo behind Atelier Hekayat has quickly made a name for themselves in the fashion sphere. Their designs are a reflection of their shared cultural heritage and their own individual style and creativity.

From their picturesque boutique in Jeddah, The Oraifs talk to Arabian Moda about transforming their love affair with fashion into a successful business and promoting Saudi values worldwide.

AM: When did the Atelier Hekayat story start?
It is something in our blood, we grew up in an artistic environment. Our father was a designer, my grandfather and mother were involved in the field as well. Abeer and I love fashion, our father attended Milan Fashion Weeks and took us along to showrooms and exhibitions. We love mixing food and fashion which is why we opened a bakery here in Jeddah. So, we love all things related to memories and hekayat (stories).

AM: Is fashion something you have studied?
Alia specialized in interior design at the King AbdulAziz University which includes everything from drawing to design and sewing. Abeer studied international business in London with a focus on fashion. We wanted to cover all the aspects of a fashion enterprise. It just feels like two different worlds and mentalities working side-by-side.

AM: Who are some of the designers you look up to?
On the international side we love dressing up in Comme des Garçons and Alexander McQueen. We don’t like flashy logos; we prefer discreet looks.

Atelier Hekayat

AM: And where do you craft your designs?  
We produce everything locally. We have a very small team composed of three tailors, a secretary and the both of us. We do everything by ourselves which is reflected in the quality of our brand. We are very hands on! Customers even take their appointments to meet us personally, and we like to make sure that they are happy and satisfied. It helps us understand what the client is looking for. 

AM: Why is your recent collection Hayat so special to you?
We always need to have a story for our collections, and the one behind Hayat came from painful moments that we transformed into life. During COVID everything was shut down, our situation was quite bad after losing our father. We didn't want to show people that our lives were spiraling. So, we pulled through with our work and went from a dark place to a very happy project. Our father loved life so he inspired us. We dedicated this collection to Beethoven because he too suffered from multiple conflicts simultaneously and kept going and created beautiful masterpieces.

AM: Describe the Atelier Hekayat woman…

She is a successful woman who has a strong story and can represent our brand in an elegant manner.

AM: And do you measure her success by the number of social media followers?
We don’t believe in Instagram; it doesn’t show the honest side of the brand as we still prefer genuine relationships. We favor having a woman powerful in her own environment rather than strong on social media. There are personalities who don’t like being under the spotlight but they tend to be more influencing than they think. Those are the real trend-setters.

AM: For those outside of the Middle East, how would you describe Saudi women?
They are very well educated. Saudi women are creative in whichever job they go for, from fashion to media. They just shine. This is why our government is giving more opportunities to empower women. We want the world to see that we are leaders.

AM: Tell us more about being part of the Saudi 100 Brands program
We participated in its first season and now we are part of the second. When we joined the Saudi 100 Brands, we knew what our added value was and that we wanted to represent our nation both locally and internationally. We're all very excited and we have a lot of love for our country, not to mention that we love a good challenge.

Atelier Hekayat

AM: And how was your experience like during Paris Fashion Week?
It was the first time that Saudi Arabia took its best designs and showcased them in front of the global media. It was a big step for the Saudi fashion industry. We were able to expand our sales in different countries and regions. 

AM: What are some other international projects you’ve worked on?
About 10 years ago we collaborated with Mouawad Jewlery, it was quite revolutionary back then. We also worked with Maserati. Our vision involves a strong belief in the power of collaborations because they are valuable. This year we dressed supermodel Helena Christensen to an Oscar’s party, with a design inspired by AlUla.

AM: A proud moment in the archives of Atelier Hekayat?
It has to be when our dad teared up watching our first fashion show in Istanbul. He was a very proud Saudi and he really planted this seed in us. We wish he could see everything we've accomplished so far. Atelier Hekayat’s success is dedicated to our late father’s legacy.

AM: An ultimate goal?
We want to be international. We also want to be able to pick the locations we sell at. We would like to go for the far East, something along the lines of Japan and Hong Kong. We love their subtle style.