Qatari designer Wadha Al Hajri is currently in New York, where her collection is being shown at Justine and Jeff Koons’ gallery at The White Space project curated by Alison Brokaw. In our interview with the emerging designer, she reveals to us her most intimate inspiration and how being a fashion designer is actually her second job.
ON HER FIRST MODELS
When I was seven or eight years old, I began making clothes for my dolls and sewing mini-bags for myself. When I was thirteen, I would go to the fashion websites and see the collections; this is how I spent my teenage years—trying to figure out how to be a fashion designer. My parents have always been supportive and they totally understand me and my passion, even though at first they were worried because it is not my only passion.
ON FASHION DESIGN BEING HER SECOND JOB
I graduated from Qatar University and went on to explore my first passion—working as a full-time research assistant at a private research firm specializing in Arab politics. Designing clothes is actually my second job. I plan my priorities one day at a time and I try and achieve in both domains.
ON HER MOST PERSONAL INSPIRATION
Now I am 26 years old but when I had my daughter three years ago, I felt like I was reborn. She gave me another perspective on life. I immediately appreciated the health that I have and knew that I unequivocally had to pursue my dream of designing clothes. I want my daughter to be proud of me. When she came into this world, I thought—I love motherhood, but I want more.
ON TRANSLATING ARCHITECTURE TO HER DESIGNS
I am not a classically trained fashion designer, but I do have a love and understanding of architecture—a field that I really enjoy. My new collection is inspired by the black Bedouin tents. I like the structure of those tents: they are sharp and minimal. The Bedouin tent was initially built by a woman. Women build shelter, they build houses—they are architects without the degree. And so, the collection is mainly black and it focuses on the structure of the body in a similar aspect.
ON HER WORK SPEAKING FOR ITSELF
Vogue Italia interviewed almost fifty Arab designers before making the selection as to who would be invited to show during the Vogue Dubai Fashion Experience. I actually couldn’t attend the interview meeting because I had a first priority with my daughter, but they chose me anyway.
As for being selected to showcase my designs here in New York at The White Space project hosted at Justine and Jeff Koons’ gallery, I can’t even begin to express how I feel about it and how grateful I am. Australian stylist Alison Brokaw had a lot to do with that; her support is incredible for a young designer.
ON MILAN, HER NEXT DESTINATION
Next week I am going to Milan for another event with thecorner.com—an e-commerce site that is launching an event with Vogue Italia. They chose some of my pieces to sell through the website. Then, it’s back to Doha and my full-time job. At the moment I enjoy both fields. I know that one day I will have to choose but that decision will be really hard. I choose to live day by day and see how things go.
As told to Caterina Minthe