The statusque women sashaying down the ramp held the audience captive. It was hard to comprehend what it was that arrested your attention. No doubt they were all beautiful to a fault, and yet there was something more. The streaming Arabic Sufi music only added to the aura. The women adorned in brilliant Jordanian silver jewellery and chromatic kaftans carried with them a signature style that was unmissable. The Hana Sadiq haute couture had once again created a fashion frenzy taking her audience to a flight of design and colour fantasy. The Arab fashion industry has come of age. The ethnic rusticity of Hana’s designs coupled with the exquisite colours and Arabic calligraphy took the world by storm.
Born in Iraq, Hana’s journey into the world of art and fashion is an inspiring one. She lost her family to the war in Iraq and her husband passed away shortly after. With a degree in French literature from the University of Baghdad, and children to look after, Hana migrated to Jordan where she pursued her passion for fashion as a means of survival, specialising in the integration of Arabic art with best of contemporary haute couture.
In her 25-year-old career, Hana Sadiq signature designs exemplify Arabic culture and poetry and have caught the attention of both Eastern & Western fashion industries alike. On her A-list are Queen Noor, Queen Rania and Princess Raghda of Jordan, Latifa Al Tunisia, Egyptian actress Rajaa Al Jaddawi and several other celebrities.
During Hana’s long and illustrious career, she has won several awards and accolades from National and International organisations and governments around the world for her contribution towards Arabic fashion industry and preservation and revival of heritage designs and couture. She lives in Jordan with her son Sami and daughters Nora and Nadia who assist her at the Hana Sadiq couture house, churning brilliant designs year after year.
Arabian Gazette’s Husna Mohammad presents an interview with Hana Sadiq, one of Middle East’s most endearing fashion designers, about life, fashion, dreams and aspirations.
Husna Mohammad: When did your career in the fashion industry begin? Have there been designers in your family? Who or what inspired you to become a professional fashion designer?
Hana Sadiq: I started by being an artist, a painter to be precise. But I was always interested in fashion especially our traditional wear. I was interested in how they were adapted to our weather, our culture and surroundings. How they varied from field to city wear. The intricate work on them and how they were all embroidered by hand. I used to paint a lot those women in their dresses and accessories in details and it was my professor in college who told me that I have a keen insight about Arab fashion. No one in my family was a fashion designer.
What inspires your collection designs ? How do new designs take form in your mind?
I am always inspired when I visit museums and read books portraying our heritage. I do not limit myself to a certain area. So when I design, all elements come together in them.
How has your cultural history and arts inspired your designs?
Art has been an essential part in my designs as it helped me with the technicalities of my designs, colours, space and construction. As for history, I researched different eras like the Omayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid and Ottoman and found a lot of things in common starting from the intricate art of weaving to the types of work. I tried to incorporate that in my designs.
What kind of couture did you design for Queen Noor and Queen Rania of Jordan? Did the personalities of these amazing women play a role in inspiring what you designed?
When I design for amazing women like our queens I always try to stay true to the Jordanian and Palestinian work. Their personalities help a lot with the cuts and materials used.
Does your personal experiences/ideologies reflect in anyway in your designs?
I grew up in Baghdad and Iraqi culture is very rich. It is everywhere. So of course my first inspirations were from there but as I grew older and moved around in the Arab world I was exposed to more cultures and introduced them in my designs. Our Islamic culture is very rich with different types of calligraphy and that shows a lot in my work.
How different is it designing for a label for consumers than customised designs for celebrities?
I design dresses for all women, including celebrities. My goal in life is to make a woman look sensual and elegant regardless of who she is. It is very important to me that when a woman comes to me she leaves satisfied knowing that the dress she wears makes her beautiful and unique. For me, all women deserve that.
Who has been your favourite celebrity to design for?
I cannot say one celebrity as I don’t design having one person in mind and that is the beauty of my work. I put a lot of work and energy in my clothes so that every women, famous or not, looks beautiful in them.
They say that life’s painful experiences brings out the best in artists. Is that true for fashion designers as well?
Creating something beautiful needs to come from a place of happiness, peace and serenity. I cannot create if I feel sad. My vibrant colours become dull and the joie de vivre that comes out from my designs isn’t there anymore.
Tell us how your experiences have defined your identity?
Every aspect of my life has defined my personality. My carefree youth, my marriage to my late husband, moving to France then moving back to the Middle East. My children who were a very important part of my life. All those things made me a stronger person and helped me deal with the difficulties of life.
What inspired your daughters Nadia and Nora to become designers? What difference do you see in the works of your daughters?
As children I used to take them to all the art exhibitions I went. I even took them to see the Opera Carmen. I always got them involved in my work by giving them small chores to do. I think with time they absorbed all of this and were drawn to this line of work. When they started working with me they brought a fresher and hipper look to my designs. They cater more to the younger segment of my clientele.
What makes a woman unforgettable? What kind of women do you design your clothes for?
I think the most important thing that makes a woman unforgettable is her personality. After that comes her elegance and charisma. For me it is very important for a woman to be feminine and sensual. I try to have that come out in my designs. When I was starting my work, a woman told me once that my job was to put a smile on every woman’s face. It’s true, when we buy something it should make us feel happy and worthy of us. So if a particular design makes me feel unique, it is worthy of my possession. I try as much as I can to bring out that feeling of uniqueness in my clients whether thin or curvy, dusky or fair, tall or short.
Would you like to say a few words to our female readers regarding Fashion and the Female form?
I would like to say that we should not regard what comes out in the Eastern fashion industry as something that necessarily applies to us. As Arab women, we have different shapes and bodies and thus we should dress accordingly. I don’t like to design for the skinny models because Arab women have curves. This is what makes them beautiful and sensual. We just need to learn how to dress our body. I see now how people will wear things just because they are in fashion but don’t flatter their shape. We should not be slaves to fashion but create our own unique style.
After spending 25 years in the fashion industry, what do you think is the future of fashion? Especially that of the Middle East?
We live in a consumerist era. Fashion changes all the time and is disposable. My designs are long lasting. I had a client once who came to me and asked me to alter a dress I had made for her mother 15 years ago. This is what I want for my designs to be passed on from one generation to the next and still appeal to everyone.
What advice would you give our young and aspiring fashion designers from the Middle East?
I would tell them to believe in themselves. To persevere in what they are trying to do. When I started, I was among the first to bring back traditional dresses in a more modern way. I was criticised a lot because no one believed it would work. I kept doing my work and now it is successful.
Tell us the top 5 wishes from Hana Sadiq’s To do List.
1. Start my line of pret a porter.
2. Spread our culture throughout the world.
3. Make a museum for my collection of traditional wear from around the Arab world.
4. Try and help the women in the region by giving them work and financial independence instead of outsourcing to Asia.
5. To help budding Middle Eastern designers gain more prominence in the Eastern fashion industry.
To know more about Hana Sadiq Couture, please visit www.hanasadiq.com