Fashion has long been utilised as a tool for a cultural change in societies, from Coco Chanel popularising trousers for women to the punk movement of the 1970's. With an international atmosphere of unrest and uncertainty, to see a young designer emerge with a strong voice and the design skills to back it up is truly exciting.
Amira Al-Maani is one such designer, whose flair for drama and glamour is only amplified by her Middle Eastern heritage and experience as a Muslim woman in Australia. Amira is fresh to the fashion industry, having completed her studies at the Australian institute of Creative Design in 2016; "Attending college enhanced my designing skills, taught me how to pattern, how to sew, and gave me the confidence to create my first collection."
She reflects that her personal style typically favours feminine and flowing silhouettes, which along with a strong admiration for designers Elie Saab, Ralph & Russo, Zuhaid Murad, and Dolce and Gabbana, comes across strongly in her own designs. "The woman who would wear my designs has a love for fashion and glamour. She is bold and confident, warm and good-natured. She knows who she is and sticks true to it." Her inclination for designing garments that are bold and dramatic with rich fabrics is heavily influenced by her Middle Eastern heritage.
Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan made history in September last year when she showcased a collection at New York Fashion Week in full hijab, notably, amidst a period of severe anti-Muslim rhetoric within the 2016 Presidential Campaign. The role of Islam in the global community is regularly discussed on news and media platforms, and is a large cause of contention for political and social groups. Amira is aware of the difficulties facing Muslim creatives as a result of political climate, however she reflects that she does not believe her background has isolated her from the creative industry: "I feel like there are a lot of young Muslims who are breaking into the creative industry now, which makes it less daunting for me".
Whilst her college was a place for her to express herself and develop her skills, she states that regular racism outside of the classroom did bring down her self-confidence and cause her to question herself; however, she never let these experiences stop her from pursuing her goals, and with the support of her classmates and teachers dedicated herself to doing what she loves. As a strong figure in the fashion industry, it will be exciting to observe what she achieves.
Going forward, Amira has big goals for her brand and for herself. Following a well-received debut collection at the Emerge 2016 Fashion Parade showcase, she is committed to moving forward, with the ultimate goal of making the Amira Al-Maani brand global.
Couture designs by: Amira-Almaani | Model: Nyaluak Leth | Makeup: Jas Makeup and Consultancy | Photography: Aude Photography