Being Malia: Doha's youngest emerging designer

Monday, June 06, 2016

 Hey squaddies!

Last week Pooja had the opportunity to pick the brains of one of Doha's youngest fashion designers at the age of 22. A rising star with her all-white spring/summer '16 collection titled 'Nervous Energy' selling in Salam department stores, having showcased her collection as an 'emerging talent' in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Doha; it seems like the only way is up for Malia! Here are some of her thoughts behind her inspiration, her favorite restaurant and her top 3 style tips:
What inspired your interest in fashion?
My mum used to collect Vogue magazines and she used to inspire me when she designed both hers and our clothes before getting them handmade by a tailor. I think I always wanted to be a fashionista!
How did you get into designing a collection having only graduated last year?
I graduated in May 2015 at VCU Qatar. We have a fashion show every year where we showcase at Salam Stores. I showed a collection that I actually only took a week to make! I was given two awards for it - the GLAM award and Salam award and they sponsored my new collection sold in Salam Stores and its been a learning experience ever since.
What inspired you to create the collection 'Nervous Energy'?
The collection which consists of 36 pieces, was based on my emotional experience. Throughout my university life I have been very up and down mentally. Being depressed can bring out a lot of nervous energy, I have been through it and I know a lot of people have been through it too, it is my way of talking about it and expressing myself creatively on the subject. People do not understand what it feels like to have dark and upsetting thoughts so I want to make people understand. It has a deep meaning, especially for me.
What do you enjoy most about being a fashion designer?
I love creating, experimenting, finding fabrics and designing the concept. For last year's collection I hand printed my own fabric using a rolling press to create a mono print. This was really cool and I hope to keep learning new processes to make my own fabrics in the near future. I am still young and have a lot to learn and am pushing myself more.
If you could collaborate with any designer, who would it be?
Maison Martin Margiela from the 90's and Yohji Yamamoto in the 80's always peaked my interest! A new designer called Pyer Moss made a political collection for 'black lives matter' and this was very inspiring to me. To be able to express yourself through your creative work and having a collection with a strong message and meaning is very important to me.
What is next for you?
I like to further my knowledge of textiles - I want to make my own textiles. Collaborating with different friends who are also fashion designers with different aesthetics, learning with them. To keep on creating: I would love to collaborate and make meaningful fashion, expressing social messages and helping the community more through my work.
Top three style tips?
1.Accessories can make an outfit. Keep it simple with basics and add some cool accessories.
2.Comfort is key! I want to make sure the wearer is comfortable in my designs.
3.Play around with styles but just be yourself.
What is your favorite restaurant?
Well everyone is always looking for the best restaurants but I am always on the look-out for a 'hole in the wall' restaurant (friendly, not fancy or expensive). I love 'La Dolce Vita' at Souq Waqif - it is owned by an Italian/Lebanese family, the food is good, they have great gelato and friendly service.
What are your favourite places in Doha?
1.The fabric souq! it is filled with culture, down to earth friendly vibes, and street food.
2.Another fabric spot is Al Saad, by Royal Plaza.
3.At home - in Al Gharafa, my room, my space, my mess!
Thank you to Malia Bennett Henry for her time. Credit to Nikko Brillantes for the pictures. 
Check out Malia's s/s16 collection 'Nervous energy' at Salam Stores, Gate Mall, Doha.

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