Playful, laid-back, and stylish. The clothes of contemporary ready-to-wear label Kage – created in Dubai in 2009 – match the personal expression of its founder, Basma Abu Ghazaleh. “I don’t take fashion too seriously,” she says. “It is about having fun with your style. I am generally quite relaxed in what I wear, which is very much in keeping with the Kage aesthetic. I do love to mix and match fabrics and also incorporate both new and older pieces from my closet. The same can be said for my home interiors.There are a lot of contrasting elements, whether it is different fabrics, such as velvet and suede, or materials, such as wood andmarble. They help to create visual interest in every room.” Born and raised in the UAE, Abu Ghazaleh studied communicationsin the US before launching her business, which offers affordable contemporary luxury fashion to a Middle Eastern clientele.
Since 2010, the designer has lived in the city’s leafy Emirates Hills. “What I love most about the area and what initially drew me here was the feeling of seclusion and the privacy it offers,” she shares. “It’s a community that enjoys the comfort of the city as it is accessible and close to most things; however, it still feels like a retreat, with beautiful green spaces dotted around the estate.”
The house was built from the ground up, allowing Abu Ghazaleh to add her personal stamp to the design and tailor the finishes and architectural details. For the interior spaces, she worked with Lebanese interior designer Claude Missir. “We wanted something that was contemporary but didn’t feel cold,” she says. “The idea was to have a space that was welcoming but also maintained a minimalist feel that could complement our art collection in the best way possible.”
Paintings and sculptures by artists from the region such as Reza Derakshani from Iran, Safwan Dahoul from Syria, and Nabil Nahas and Nadim Karam from Lebanon reflect her taste for the homegrown. “One of my favorite spaces is the dining room,” she says. “It has two unique artworks that I particularly gravitate towards, which were commissioned from Diana Al-Hadid, an American artist born in Syria and based in New York, who I met at Art Dubai. I also love the elephant sculpture by Nadim Karam in our living space.”
In order to make the art collection stand out on a blank canvas, neutral colors – predominantly earth tones – were used throughout, combined with a juxtaposition of materials such as leather and velvet to add depth. “This concept is something that I adopt in my personal style,” says Abu Ghazaleh. “I love to style myself in a more neutral palette and experiment with quirky accessories. However, I also like to don bolder hues and graphic prints, which is something that can also be seen in my home decor and is notable in the interior design of the house.”
A place of serenity and creativity at the same time, Abu Ghazaleh’s dwelling sometimes serves as the backdrop for her brand’s photo shoots. “A lot of the geometric details that can be seen in the flooring – the eclectic accessories and the architectural lines of the home – have provided me with so much inspiration,” the designer says. Her SS19 collection is a nod to nature with romantic botanical prints, earthy neutrals, and shirred details, and continues Kage’s commitment to creating effortless dressing for the modern woman.
Describing her lifestyle in the house as social, the designer frequently hosts family and friends. “A lot of time is spent in the gazebo while the weather is nice, and also in the tearoom or in the kitchen, where we have most of our family meals,” she notes. “I love the natural light that pours inside and the graphic shadows that form as a result of hitting different architectural elements of the house.”
The designer confesses to spending the most time in her expansive closet. “My home is the place where I feel at ease and where I can retreat to and unwind after a busy day,” she explains. Inspired by everything from traveling to history books, she has found her home to be a calming and warm refuge to rest and recharge, and a place to express herself and nurture her creative vision. Anticipating her FW19 collection, Abu Ghazaleh reveals that it will feature a jewelry line for the first time – statement earrings and dainty hairpins to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Kage.
Originally published in the July/August 2019 of Vogue Arabia