You can say fashion design runs in Anne Marie Kirollos’s blood. “My grandfather is a chemist who founded a business that does everything from weaving to dying fabric and producing garments,” explains the designer, who hails from a family heavily involved in the fashion and textiles industry in Egypt. “My mom also founded her own brands. She and my family manufacture and export garments for international high-end brands in addition to producing uniforms for luxury hotels and airlines.”
The Central Saint Martins graduate (the first Egyptian fashion designer to obtain a degree from the prestigious London school attended by Alexander McQueen and John Galliano) is now following in her family’s footsteps by creating her very own label, in partnership with Baraka Group, which launched this September. “Fashion to me is more than just cool or unique designs. I was born into it, I learned it, and I can’t imagine doing anything else but fashion,” she muses.
Inspired by the Egyptian Queen and grandmother of Tutankhamun, the womenswear label was conceived only a mere five months ago. “I was planning on moving to New York to work for a few years before returning to Cairo. However, once I came back, I began working in the family business, which gave me a very detailed view of the market in Egypt where I realized that there is a huge gap in the market,” she recounts. While seeking out investors, the designer was put into contact with Baraka Group, who decided to partner with her and realize her dream of having a brand. Thus, Tiyi was born.
Seeking inspiration in museums, exhibitions, and her Egyptian heritage, Kirollos’s design ethos is admittedly quite simple. “I really just design things I would wear,” she says. Meanwhile, empowering women is at the core of her label. “Tiyi was the first ever queen that stood at the same height as her husband in all museums. She is who all women should aspire to be,” proclaims the designer. Scanning through the look book, one can’t help but think that the clothing comprising the collection could very well be something that the Egyptian queen would wear if she was still alive today. Think power suits in vivid shades of royal blue and red, oversized boxy blazers, black A-line dresses, and expertly tailored trousers, which all make up the offering. A standout? The boot covers, which serve to switch up your look in a split second. “Instead of buying five different pairs of heels, you can purchase that one cozy shoe with a series of boot covers that you can slip on to instantly change your look,” reveals the designer, who describes the brand as high-fashion infused with luxury.
Incorporating Tulle Bel Telli, a traditional embroidery technique typically performed by women in a Shandaweel in Egypt, into her designs, the brand aims to further bolster the welfare of females by collaborating with as many local craftspeople as possible. “I also work on getting all my beading done by women on the highways of Egypt, where they embroider at their homes. This is in order to encompass their needs of having to be housewives, but still providing their families with incomes,” explains Kirollos. “Creating a brand that impacts the image of Egypt as well as the economic growth is something I enjoy and I aspire to be a part of.”
While some criticisms of the fashion industry include its negative environmental impact, water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals, and increasing levels of textile waste, the designer aims to tackle this through using sustainably sourced materials. Indeed, the future of fashion is in the brands and designers who are championing change, and Kirollos certainly understands this concept. Using only ethically sourced, eco-friendly fabrics, shoppers no longer have to make a choice between shopping consciously and looking stylish. The designer creates clothing— which is launching in Mall of Arabia in early November— for women of all ages and sizes (her sizes go up to 50) that go beyond making you look good, but make you feel good too.
Photography: Ämr Ezzeldinn at AnimalWall
Videography: Sergi Planas at AnimalWall
Art Direction: Ikon Chiba
Production: Snap 14
Makeup: Diana Harby
Hair: Micheal at Flair n’ Flair
Model: Vika Perusheva at Agent Managment