Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi, daughter of the Ruler of Fujairah, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, launched her eponymous brand Madiyah Al Sharqi over a decade ago and is now a renowned label, the globe over.
She discusses with Emirates Woman how she’s stayed true to her unique design process over the last 10 years always putting integrity and sincerity into everything she does.
What inspired you to enter the world of fashion and launch your own label?
It happened quite organically; as I grew up, a lot of my interests and hobbies leaned towards design – where I could channel or appreciate creativity, such as reading classic novels, watching period plays and operas, travelling to places with a lot of rich historical landmarks. It wasn’t until later when I took up a degree in fashion design that I gained a deep appreciation for learning the technical skills behind it and realized it was something I could pursue professionally.
You launched your label Madiyah Al Sharqi 10 years ago – how has this evolved over the last decade and what is the inspiration behind your designs?
My collections have always been grounded on decadent, luxurious fabrics in subtle colour palettes, playful silhouettes and statement look. A feminine aesthetic and a sense of everyday luxury continue to run through our designs. Our earliest designs heavily focused on applying these design pillars to formalwear using embroidered lace and while there is still an element of occasion wear present in our collections – in more recent seasons, we have played a heavy focus on incorporating more tailored separates into our repertoire. These are high contemporary pieces without sacrificing luxury standards of craftsmanship, which can be worn during the day and could make for a statement evening look too.
What do you hope people feel when they wear a piece you designed?
I often think about what women would be excited to wear in the next season, coming out of a few uncertain and challenging years we have been faced with. My hope is that our collections always bring feelings of enjoyment and adventure, and as result confidence that shines through their personal sense of style.
How have you stayed true to your unique design process?
As a designer, I’ve learned that while it’s essential to have consistent pillars that define the brand, it’s also important within the framework of our design process to be perceptive of the changing style needs of my market by challenging myself to try my hand at manipulating fabrics and experimenting with different silhouettes. Over the years, I’ve developed a consistent framework that I work within to develop the collections. We deal with international suppliers for sourcing fabrics, and the selection process is based on consistent pillars that have defined the brand over the seasons, as well as some references from mood boards and sketches I put together. I then work closely with my team of tailors in our atelier in Fujairah to create samples and then edit them down to create a final collection. We then shoot a lookbook, and at times the collection goes through another round of editing – based on cuts and styles that have always worked with buyers and clients in past seasons.
“A feminine aesthetic and a sense of everyday luxury continue to run through our designs.”
You recently launched the Madiyah Al Sharqi x Karen Wazen Collection. Tell us more?
Collaborating with Karen on an entire ready-to-wear collection was a first for us, and this second season of the Madiyah Al Sharqi x Karen Wazen has been nothing short of another enriching experience. Teaming up with Karen for a second season came naturally; I think the pieces we designed in this collection are a result not only of the strong chemistry between the brand’s design philosophies and her personal style vision but also of how we genuinely enjoy working together to realize an entire collection that was meant to bring back the joy of dressing up for day-to-day.
How does it feel knowing your pieces are worn by incredible women the globe over?
It’s been really rewarding for me as a designer to see women who have been fans of the brand since its early days still showing a consistent appreciation for our newer collections. With the brand’s recent evolution, It’s especially satisfying and interesting to see how they’ve incorporated the more contemporary pieces into their everyday, personal style. Ultimately, our goal was to see the women who’ve always worn the brand for special occasions be able to mix it into their daily wardrobe too.
What is a philosophy that you live by in your professional life?
I believe that any profession requires a lot of passion to be able to enjoy what you do. As a designer running a business independently, I think it’s also important to constantly seek out inspiration and feed your creativity and develop a strong business sense to ensure your creations are a commercial success.
Looking back over your career, can you tell us about the hurdles you’ve had to overcome?
As an Arab designer, I think it’s a continual challenge in the sense that ready to wear by local designers is a relatively young industry and category in the Middle East, and in the global landscape, we are also having to compete with several contemporary brands constantly emerging from the US and Europe to East Asia. Our region has some of the most celebrated evening wear designers but in recent years, I believe the reception towards contemporary design talents has broadened significantly, with a lot of brands that launched in the past decade setting a precedent for receiving meaningful attention globally.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what have been the key milestones to date?
One of the biggest moments for the brand was when we actively made a decision to shift our focus on introducing a lot more contemporary, elevated separates as our market’s style need evolving, and our audience in Europe and the US grew. Our earliest designs heavily focused on formalwear using embroidered lace, and while there is still an element of occasion wear present in our collections, there is a stronger focus on creating tailored, daywear pieces today. With a team accustomed to producing evening looks out of my atelier in Fujairah, it was a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience to take the brand to new heights. More recently, teaming up with Karen Wazen on an entire ready-to-wear collection for two collections now—the first collaboration of this kind and scale for both of us—has also been an amazing and well-received phase in the brand’s journey.
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