Engy Mahdy‘s collections tend to be deeply personal, thought-provoking, and poetic. From the first piece rolled out from her Dubai-based label’s Fall 2018 collection for one andfour. – a simple, white T-shirt inscribed with the text “Not Your Lover” – it’s clear that the Egyptian designer and pattern-maker is taking a more introspective direction with her designs. This is extremely evident in the concept of her newest offering, entitled “What’s Inside?”, which is a sartorial exploration of the notion of human connection through social media in contrast to real life. “With every collection, I like to explore an idea,” explains the 25-year-old to Vogue.me. “This season, I explore human connection in reality as opposed to connection through the cyber world. So this includes pieces that look and feel protective and encompassing, as well as pieces that look like they are wrapped to mimic hugging. This symbolizes closeness and actual human contact as opposed to virtual connection,” she notes.
The looks, which include both menswear and womenswear, include simple, graphic T-shirts emblazoned with an illustration (“I draw, so much!”) of a heart placed on the left breast — a real heart, not a cartoonish, Comme des Garçon-esque motif — alongside a text that reads: “Grab me by the heart”. This double entendre is a direct response to President Donald Trump’s controversial audio tape recordings, that also refers back to the collection’s overarching theme of human contact. Another version of the cotton shirt comes in a darker color way and features an embroidery of the organ, sans any text. These garments feel like an undeniably sophisticated approach to streetwear. So do the boxy button-ups, metallic two-pieces, long wrap skirts, and deliciously red tracksuits that form the backbone of the line-up.
The pieces were realized in a color palette that consisted mostly of hues that represent the tones found throughout the human body — red, like blood; flesh; purple to symbolize veins; so on and so forth — mixed with an incorporation of juxtaposing dashes of silver. “I introduced silver as a disruptive element. It is meant to represent the inclusion of technology and connection through social media,” states the Auckland University of Technology graduate.
Despite it being only her second collection for her unisex label, the ultra-wearable offering proves that Mahdy is only going to continue evolving. She attributes her steady progress to taking her time, and not rushing anything— a creative process deeply advocated by late and great Azzedine Alaïa. “This season, I was able to spend a lot of time on going back to experimenting more,” she muses. “I actually spent time at my mannequin draping the same top for over two weeks.” Indeed, the attention to detail is evident in the Fall 2018 collection.
As for what’s next for the brand: “I’m working on a few collaborations which I’m pretty excited about, in clothing as well as illustration,” she reveals. “I’m also beginning to try different types of products such as jewelry and maybe even an installation. As for next season, the plan is to go bigger and bolder, with colors, prints, and shapes.” Whatever she churns out next, the multi-faceted designer has already succeeded in effectively grabbing us by our hearts.