Hailing from the Emirates, Fatma AlMulla is a visual artist and designer that combines pop culture with Arabic tradition in a quirky and coveted way. She launched her brand, FMM, in 2012 with a set of T-shirts. A year later, she made her first foray into accessories. Niqabi stickers, chai karak phone cases, Chips Oman pins, bisht USBs, and henna passport covers are only some of the tongue-in-cheek accessories that make up her brand’s repertoire. Today, the 26-year-old has a complete collection of homegrown dresses, kaftans, accessories, and her first, recently launched, handbags. She teamed up with Emirati photographer Saeed Khalifa for the lookbook and frequently joins forces with other designers and brands to create exclusive collections. Having worked with the likes of Kiehl’s and Sunglasses Hut, her most recent collaboration is with Layali Tryano on a five-day Ramadan fair in Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall. Vogue Arabia caught up with the designer to discuss her new Ramadan collection, her transition into accessories, and the regional brands she’s currently coveting.
Why is it important to focus on Arabic designs for your brand?
It’s important because not only am I an Arab, but I come from a region that is full of beauty, and I want to show the world what this region offers.
How does the Middle East inspire you?
It inspires me in so many ways. We are all Arabs, yet each region is different in terms of design. I like to depict the stereotypes of the Middle East and challenge the norm and how the West perceives us. It also inspires me in terms of the different ranges of beauty, from the Gulf, Levant, and Africa.
Tell us about your transition into accessories.
I think everything came naturally. I started with accessories that later evolved into clothing and apparel. So in a way, I started with something small – in other words, smaller surfaces – and slowly began to expand the surface through canvases and fashion. I’m very fortunate to have both apparel and accessories as it allows me to experiment more and depict my creativity. Everything I see and design is like I am designing on a canvas, but I get to translate that canvas into wearable art pieces.
What regional labels are currently on your radar?
Lady Fozaza, Latifa Al Shamsi, Native, Elie Saab, Rami Kadi
How has working with Tryano helped to foster your brand in the marketplace?
Tryano is a renowned hub for fashion in Abu Dhabi, created and designed by Chalhoub Group, which has years of experience and who designed the space so beautifully. We are lucky to be working with them because they cater to the needs of fashion-savvy shoppers, as well as showcasing Emirati talent with this exhibition.
Tell us more about your special Ramadan collection that you created for the Tryano Ramadan festival.
We’ve created a special series of accessories this year, to break out of the tradition and routine FMM usually goes with. Each piece designed is culturally focused to create something a little more special and a little more different.
What message of giving has moved you the most while collaborating with Layali Tryano for the Ramadan fair?
Ramadan, to me, is all about sharing the most, with the people you love. Layali Tryano is an excellent platform to share the designs I hold dear with customers who I know will appreciante them.
Can we expect an FMM collection for Ramadan soon?
Absolutely. I’ve spent so much time on this upcoming collection so it can resonate not only with the Middle East, but moreso with a broader audience.