Saturday, January 29, 2011

Outaf's touch

Outaf Adnan of TRIO Couture
With the Bride Show only days away, it is a miracle that Outaf Adnan of TRIO Couture found the time to sit down with me and talk about her collection for the upcoming show.

The first time I walked in Outaf's studio for a photo shoot some time late last year, I was mesmerized. It wasn't grand or as big as Harvey Nichols or the Chanel boutique on Rue Cambon, but it had a touch to it. Outaf's touch. Just like all her designs, her space is as personal and unique as it can get. It was neat, with every little detail taken care of by Outaf. Everything was in its place.

"This is real work. This is how I work." - Outaf Adnan
But this time around, the room was filled with fabrics, pins, and sewing materials. Regina, her assistant, was on the floor giving the final touches for two dresses that were going to be part of the show. Outaf, probably sensing my shock, told me with a smile, "This is real work. This is how I work."

After taking a few photos of the two dresses that she has allowed me to make public, she invited me over to the couch where I had numerous shots of for the photo shoot we had last year.

"So tell me what you want to know." She asked. Outaf has always been very helpful to and supportive of young fashion designers-in-the-making like me. She believes that the young designers have so much potential, and with proper and adequate experience, they could give the veterans and the professionals a run for their money.

First, I ask her about how TRIO Couture started. "TRIO Couture is founded by myself and two of my friends, Fatima Kaddas and Houda Al Shamsi. We've been planning this for three years, but it was only in September of 2010 that we officially opened." Hence the name, TRIO Couture.

She stops and excuses herself for a while to check how the dresses were going. And when she got back, we continued where we left off. "I've been working in the industry for more than 20 years, 14 years in Baghdad and around 8 years here in Abu Dhabi. But, ever since I was young, being a child of a leather crafts businessman, I became very familiar with all the machines. My father owns a big factory that produces leather goods, from belts to bags. I was in there a lot. And that was what started my love for fashion. I am very hardworking. I couldn't last a long time without doing anything. Ask my daughters. They know this very well." she tells me with a laugh, gesturing to her eldest daughter, Mina, who is also helping her mother with the collection. Mina just nods and smiles at me in agreement.

But who is Outaf? I was expecting a very straightforward answer, like telling me directly what she thinks of herself and of how she works. But instead, she tells me, "I can be anything. I have a lot of ideas, but I am still eager to learn. I think I have a lot of things to show, and if given the chance, I will show them." I think the way she answered made me more excited to see her show. It was like a cliff-hanger, making the reader or the audience guess what will happen next. It is very stimulating, which I think is just what the fashion world needs nowadays.

And now she has that chance. The Bride Show 2011 is her first show  in Abu Dhabi to show the people here what she's capable of. "I don't have a specific inspiration for this collection. In fact, it is a wide variety of my own style. It will show you the many faces of Outaf." She says laughing. Does this collection have a name? She ponders for a moment before telling me that she really didn't think about it, but "The Many Faces of Outaf" caught her attention, so she left it at that.

She continued to tell me that if there was one consistent inspiration for this collection it would be the fabrics that she has used. "Whenever I design, the fabrics talk to me. It tells me what it wants to look like. It's like.." She trails off, thinking of the right word. Magic? I suggested. And she agreed. "Yes, yes. It's like magic. Everything just falls into place."

a sneak peek of her collection for The Bride Show

"This collection will be featuring 23 haute couture dresses, 3 wedding dresses, 5 simple dresses with glamorous chiffon abayas over them, and around 4 stylish abayas that reflects my personal style. I played a lot with tulle, because it gives me the right volume for the shape of the woman." She adds.

There will be around 16 designers that will be joining this show, Lebanese designer Tony Yaacoub among them. What distinguishes your designs from others? "I want to make abayas that all people can wear, not just the Arabs. I want each woman's personality to reflect her personal style. I want her to carry the dress in a way that she shines brighter, not the other way around." It is one of the things I admire about her. She knows and understands her market very well without trying to. It was just natural. You could say that this is something that she was born to do.

"Here in my shop, I only sell 3 or 4 pieces for each design. My designs are exclusive and unique. You won't find it anywhere. They're simple, but they have a touch."She said as she gave me a sneak peek of what to expect on her show on the 3rd of February at the ADNEC.

I was blown away. I started jumping up and down like a little girl and hugged her. I can't wait to see them all on the runway. But before we come to an end, I remembered to ask her what advice she can give to young designers and enthusiasts who are in their own journey to become the designer that they want to be.

"Be patient. Things like these don't happen overnight. Work really hard. Try, try, and try again. Experiment. Be open to learning new things. Stitch. Design. Work with patterns. But most of all, learn from your mistakes."

Outaf is really an inspiration to a lot of designers who are just starting in the industry. I even told her that she seemed like the Middle East version of Coco Chanel, because of her love for fabrics and with how she started. Her collection is definitely a must-see at this year's Bride Show.

TRIO Couture will be showcasing their collection on the 3rd of February at 6pm in ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre).

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