Les Benjamins, Istanbul-based lifestyle brand, has designed a limited-edition capsule collection to pay homage to the empowering spirit of International Women’s Day.
Done in collaboration with Dubai-based Egyptian artist, designer, and patternmaker Engy Mahdy, the 8-piece exclusive collection features streetwear styles with a contemporary punk aesthetic. Highlights include a mesh panelled gown, long skirts and slim t-shirts designed with hand drawn prints and silhouettes that demonstrate an empowering sense of individuality.
Emirates Woman speaks to head of Les Benjamins womenswear Lamia Al Otaishan Aydin and Engy Mahdy to get to know more about the creative process behind the unique collaboration and the women that inspire them.
How did you both go about into the design space?
EM: Working together was honestly super smooth! I am so grateful for how much Lamia enabled the freedom and flexibility she gave throughout. We had a few meetings in the design stage to formulate the idea, create mood board and design sketches and then finalize what would actually be executed. The whole process was very straightforward and quite enjoyable.
Who is the Les Benjamins woman?
LA: It’s very ambitious to say Les Benjamins woman is all women in general, but that’s how I view it. I’m surrounded by so many confident, driven, intelligent, and beautiful women in my life.
Tell us what sparked this idea for a collaboration How did this collaboration come about?
LA: I met Engy while we were living in Dubai, and immediately, we became friends. I admire her and her work!
EM: I will let Lamia speak more about this but for me, it was a beautiful union of a very wholesome friendship. We always came together and spoke about design and it has been such an honour and a pleasure to collaborate with Lamia on this collection.
How did you both work together for this collaboration?
LA: Every year we get to collaborate with a female artist/designer from our region, this year I had the pleasure of working with Engy, and the outcome was beautiful.
What was the theme of this collection?
EM: This collection aims to portray the present-day woman. A woman who is feminine yet bold, assertive and disruptive. It is a juxtaposition of the highly feminine with references to the punk aesthetic. As you look through the collection, you will see a recreation of plaid, safety pins as earrings and studs on several pieces.
What was the inspiration for the prints we’re seeing in this collection?
EM: We have 3 main prints that you will see repeated in the collection, the collaboration logo, which is hand drawn and has a very rough rocker feel; the plaid which is also hand drawn – when seeing it up close you will notice the lines are not straight and are sketched; and the pink girl with her tongue out! All the prints are based on the theme of the collection, a bold yet feminine woman with punk references.
What do you aim with the launch of this collection?
LA: We aim to celebrate women who have the power to be whoever they want to be.
Which type of women did you base your designs on?
EM: Every woman! The collection is inspired by every woman and our ability to mold and shape ourselves however we please. Every type of woman is resilient in her own way based on her own life experiences.
How do you want the women to feel wearing this collection?
LA: I always want women to be confident, comfortable and fierce!
EM: Confident, happy, truthful and most importantly, however they want to feel on that particular day.
Who are the women that you look up to that have influenced you and your works?
LA: So many amazing women inspire me, but my core of influence has always been my mother and sisters, who have supported, inspired and guided me throughout my journey.
EM: I have three older sisters who I have observed my entire life as they go through their own experiences and interpretations of life. Each one of them to me represents a whole avenue of women. I also have my mother who is essentially a superwoman who raised 5 kids, achieved every success she dreamed of and never held any of us back from pursuing our own ideas of life.
How do you aim to have a positive influence on women?
LA: By bringing us women together and celebrating the unique identities we all have. We are strong together.
EM: I hope the message this collection brings serves merely as a reminder that we are all valid, relevant and valuable no matter who we are or what we do; a reminder to speak and act upon our own truth and to strive to always stay true to that.