The Covid-19 pandemic affected designers in many different ways. While some paused to take stock of their creativity and production, some returned to their roots to honor their beginnings, and others embarked on a full-blown celebration of uplifting fashion. For Saudi designer Arwa Al Banawi, it took a bit of everything to return to the official calendar with a new collection for Resort 2023. While the lockdown period saw the designer work on a collaboration with Adidas, and release solely loungewear capsules, the new launch marks Al Banawi’s first ready-to-wear collection since 2020.
Titled ‘Le Majda’, the collection is named after the designer’s mother, making it one of the many ways in which Al Banawi honors her forever muse this season. “My mother has always been my first fashion inspiration. Her eclectic and timeless style always inspired me,” shares the designer with Vogue Arabia. The collection also channels the playful spirit of the ‘80s, which the designer experienced through her mother’s wardrobe. “I love looking at her polaroid photos from her travels to Paris, Cannes, and New York in the ’70s and ’80s and I get taken away by her fashion sense,” she says. “I own many of her suits, from YSL and Versace to Chanel, all from the 80s, and that’s how I fell in love with the era—I lived it through my mother’s pieces and her photos.”
The inspired collection puts women-on-the-go at its center, with practical and enviable pieces aimed at making them feel their best. Fans of Al Banawi’s namesake brand and its signature oversized suits will find the silhouette reimagined with details from the 80s, such as shoulder pads, wide-leg pants, and pleats. Explaining her creative process behind the collection, Al Banawi says, “While designing this collection I envisioned it to be effortless, sexy, and versatile while keeping comfort in mind, and allowing the woman of this season to move effortlessly during her busy days. I also wanted to include pieces that are fit for women with a more modest style, for them to enjoy this collection and wear it from day to night.”
Other highlights of the Resort 2023 collection include everyday basics made unique with fringes, distinct cuts, and an electric color palette that reflects her mother’s profession. “My mom is an artist and my memories of her growing up are always of her painting, and crafting,” shares the designer, who looked to her mother’s “strong artistic sense” to render the collection in bold hues of lime green, bright pink, and red, contrasting with fail-safe neutrals.
The designer’s Dubai-based namesake brand also pushes its sustainability agenda further with this new launch, using recycled materials among fabrics like cotton, crepe, jacquard, and silk. “We made some changes to our brand strategy during Covid-19 and one of these changes is practicing sustainability,” states Al Banawi. “We are working with ethical factories that produce our fabrics and pieces, and we are following the pre-order model for this collection to control production and avoid waste. Our packaging is also eco-friendly while still keeping the high quality and luxury in mind.” Up next for the designer is her brand’s e-commerce site which launches this summer, and will house the Resort 2023 collection as it becomes available to shop online and in stores from November 2022.