She may have only launched her debut collection for Romani a couple of weeks ago, but Haya Jarrar’s designs have already found fans in the region’s It girls. Everyone from Jessica Kahawaty and Amina Muaddi to Karen Wazen and Nadine Abdelaziz have been seen sporting her edgy yet feminine designs in recent weeks, quickly catapulting her made-in-the-UAE womenswear label to cult status. “When I was younger, I used to just doodle and, without thinking, draw silhouettes of women and garments perfectly,” reveals the 25-year-old to Vogue.me. “That’s when I first discovered my love for fashion.”
Jarrar, who is of Jordanian descent and lives in Dubai, would go on to enroll at the London College of Fashion and the Condé Nast College of Fashion to sharpen her design skills. However, upon obtaining her fashion design degree, she didn’t pursue a career as a designer right away, becoming a buyer at one of the region’s major retail groups instead. “The moment I realized I was ready to start Romani was after I worked as a buyer,” recalls Jarrar of her brand, which takes its name from the several languages of the Romani people. “It symbolizes their free-spirited lifestyle and cultural ability to rebel against social norms,” notes Jarrar, who aims to design for unapologetic rule-breakers.
Her debut Fall 2018 collection, which draws inspiration from ‘60s rock’n’roll icons like Elvis Presley, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith Richards, takes after her own daring personal style (she namechecks Camille Rowe as an inspiration). There’s a cropped tuxedo blazer with ostrich feather-fringed sleeves, a pantsuit made entirely out of sustainably sourced, clear plastic, and a sequined, silver mini-dress with mesh details. A black, off-shoulder denim crop top held together with buckles and a pair of matching, loose trousers basically screams “Wear me now Bella Hadid“— think standout pieces for a woman that wants to stand out. Though, Jarrar is adamant that she doesn’t have any one specific person in mind when she’s designing. “I consider Romani an art form, and believe art is for everyone,” she says. “I see a cosmopolitan girl who enjoys absorbing the energy of the city wearing my Anja jacket, and a more mature woman rocking the same jacket in a completely different way. The Romani woman is someone who is unapologetic about their style, bohemian, and aims to stand out, and that’s how she makes my designs her own.”
It’s true — the feather-trimmed, PVC jacket when styled by hijab-wearing fashion blogger Marwa Biltagi might as well have been a completely different garment on Kuwaiti cool girl Fatima Almomen. As for who she would want to see wearing her designs next? “HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein,” she proclaims. “Horse riding means everything to me. I grew up in the stables in Jordan and as a kid I just wanted to be like her. She’s fearless when it comes to riding, she used to jump over cars, yet she’s so elegant. I’d love to see her in one of my jackets. I also find Nadine Njeim absolutely stunning. She represents modern Arabian beauty.”
Though Jarrar has just debuted her first collection, she’s as busy as ever, working on launching an online website where her covetable pieces will be available for purchase. “The brand has gotten such positive feedback and responses from people asking for custom pieces, and with this new platform it will allow me to reach a global market and provide my customers with a way to connect with the brand,” she muses. “Romani as a brand is going to be full of creative surprises.” Watch this space.