Do Expat-Designers have place in Dubai?

Expat, Fashion, Fashion Business, Uncategorized

As most of you know I’m the founder behind my own pret-a-couture label Avastave, and a graduate of the French Design School, Esmod, Dubai. Needless to say as with many higher learning institutes the associated costs weren’t cheap and I am lucky to have had the financial backing of my parents that many do not. However as time passed and I graduated with honours, life kicked in, proving that talent or a renowned degree in itself, isn’t all you need to win this game.


As artists, we all believe that our work will create such tremendous ripples to the local scene that it would be impossible to not be recognized or profit from it. I am telling you right now, that the chances of that happening are next to none, and I don’t mean that to dissuade you from pursuing your dream or dim your shine, but to give you a better understanding of the tasks you have ahead of you. They call it a dream for a reason, because it is up to you to make it a reality.

Dubai is booming with opportunities, but let me remind you that they often require heavy capital, and unless you are local, have exorbitant amounts of family money or were lucky enough to find an investor in time for your graduation show these possibilities are not open to you. To give you a clear example, I recently received an offer to show at Paris Fashion Week, with a Dubai based company called Opulence Events, the email went on with the usual encouragement that would make any fresh creatives eyes light up saying things like ‘the show will have renowned press, your outfits will be printed on banners, access to international buyers etc’, you scroll down to the contract; the agreement of your participation, and then you see it, $15,000 is the cost for you to show. If you can afford that, then you’ve had a much better organisational system than me, because that is an unreal amount of money to charge an emerging label. These emails have come to me through the years, each more expensive than the last, and you have to ask yourself, do these business entities really think that local designers have that kind of money? Even Fashion Forward, Dubai’s premiere showcase for new talent charges a whopping 18,000, as participation fee.



Let me rephrase my question, do they really think anyone but locals and rich-kids who do this as a celebration of their vanity can afford these programs? The truth is, the programs that are in place to help aspiring creatives are few and far between and they are ninety-nine percent almost always targeted at locals or Europeans. With their being no citizenship possibilities in the UAE to date, this means if you are from an Asian country or aren’t blessed to carry UK, EU, Arab passport, then you will most likely fall into the category that is ignored. Even though the UAE boasts a massive amount of workers from countries such as India, Philippines, Africa and Sri Lanka these countries are yet to receive adequate representation.

The relevance of citizenship is vital here, because a country is most likely to support and push the efforts of one of its own, and as we all know that the UK and US publications will almost definitely support talent from their own countries in the GCC and the Arab world delights in celebrating their own home grown talent, that leaves very little for those whose countries are significantly smaller by comparison. While the US,EU, AUS etc do celebrate diversity and encourage more people to join their communities as equals, privy to equal rights the UAE’s stance on this particular topic, means those of us who have the ability to truly contribute with our business plans are left to contemplate leaving behind our second home, in favour of countries that better recognize and encourage our talents.

As a designer, I have had the privilege of being acknowledged by several publications, but I have definitely not been provided with the opportunities that would have been afforded to me should I have possessed another passport. So, how do you make it work in a place where everything seems to stunt your growth?

You can work a day job and try to do a collection on a commission basis, however if you are planning on even small scale production it will cost you upto 17,-20,000AED, and if it doesn’t sell, that is another issue entirely. My words of advice would be, to save your money until you can migrate to a place where equality is the name of the game, and even though you will still struggle to get to the top, for the most part the race there will be on a level plane field. And, if you are to remain in Dubai, a few stores offer commission based options to showcase your label, however I for one am yet to see a designer truly benefit from these stores, whose profit sharing methods often mean you will be left with less than half of what you spend on production.

The truth is, every individual is different and you can most certainly find a way to make the most out of where you are based. It is not the lack of support that is the primary issue in the advancement of the middle-class Dubai based designer, it is the complete rebuttal of the predicaments faced by said designers that are holding back what could possibly be one of the newest thriving fashion capitals of the world.


Wearing Women’s Clothes

Fashion, Fashion Business, Life choices, Love, Style, Uncategorized

So, gender neutrality has been a hot-topic of late, especially within the fashion community, since our clothing is strictly segregated based on our physically assigned gender roles. But, fashion shouldn’t be a crutch, if anything it is there to help us fully express ourselves. Watch the full Youtube video here.


As mentioned earlier on this blog, I think it is crucial for us to accept that what we have been taught about gender, is based on the limited understanding of the complexities of human beings, at the time gender-based rules were formulated i.e not acknowledging the very real existence of intersex, transgender and gender-fluid and gender-less people.

It is in fact the perfect opportunity to address the issue with a little video, on how we as people can enjoy fashion regardless of gender/sexual orientation, while borrowing some great clothes from the girls. So, without further ado, here’s how to style some sick women’s pieces into your look. Hit me up on Instagram or comment down below and let me know which look is your favourite. #1 , #2, #3 or #4.

Love you guys, and let’s stop limiting ourselves.

Brands: Valentino, Gucci, Just Cavalli, Zara, H&M , New Look, Forever21, Mango and Adidas.

What is Prêt–à-Couture?

fantasy, Fashion, Fashion Business, Love, Style, Uncategorized

Many of you know that Kiian, the LA based musician, unofficially marked the debut of Avastavé pret-a-couture menswear, in his most recent shoot for Unclear magazine. Now, with special access to a one-of-a-kind image from the shoot, I thought it would be an informative way to explore what makes a custom-made Avastavé piece so special, and what the terminology pret-a-couture really means.


Naomi Campbell in Christian Dior Haute Couture 97/98 by John Galliano

Firstly, lets identify the fashion terminology: 

Haute Couture: Every bit is constructed by hand and no sewing-machines are involved. Only one piece in the world. Created to follow every line on your body, with any changes you desire to the original style i.e fabric, colour, seams, etc. A typical Haute Couture show displays the height of a brands fashion artistry and opulence, and is best exemplified in the works of designers such as John Galliano for Christian Dior in the past, Atelier Versace and of course, Chanel. Tap here for video.


Avastavé pret-a-couture is only available to shop exclusively on our website

Pret-a-couture: A term used to describe clothing with couture-esque elements. Born from the traditional term pret-a-porter, meaning ready-to-wear; the typical clothing sold at designer boutiques including spring/summer, fall/winter, pre-fall and cruise collections. Pret-a-couture was formed to address the fast paced consumer need for couture like garments without the exorbitant price tag. Brands like Fausto Puglisi, Iris Van Herpen and the famous, Alexander McQueen are all examples of pret-a-couture.

Differences between Pret-a-couture and Haute Couture:

  • There is only one piece worldwide assembled from a Haute Couture style, but there is a set-stock of pieces for each style in a pret-a-couture collection, depending on the label.
  • All official Haute Couture pieces are 100% hand-made( this includes, the side seams, zippers and overall garment construction, not just the handwork). Pret-a-couture pieces however, are not 100% hand made, they may contain details that reference Haute-Couture garments like expert hand embroidery, one-of-a-kind textiles and unique embellishments, but they are not hand-made as a whole.
  • True Haute Couture pieces can take up to 300 hours per piece to construct, whereas pret-a-couture takes less than half of this time, dependent on the piece and the label.

Avastave Pret-a-couture


A cascading river of crepe-satin and silk form this sleeveless coat dress that can be worn with trousers or skirts. Available on

  • What makes Avastave pret-a-couture unique? We only have three sizes in one style. For example, the dress above, is only available in UK 8, 10 and 12. If you are lucky enough to purchase a piece in that style, then you will be the only woman(or man) in the world to own it, with the exception of the clients that purchase size 10 & 12. But, there will only be two other people in the world to own the style.
  • Pricing: We are an emerging label, but one that only creates pret-a-couture and custom pieces. Therefore we are expensive, but through extensive market research and customer feedback we’ve created pricing that is every bit worth your dollar. Especially considering you’ll be one of the only people to own the piece. Did I mention we also provide worldwide free shipping?

Kiians Garment:

FullSizeRender (2)

Kiian photographed for Unclear Magazine

Kiian’s garment was created three months ago and took about a month to complete,between emails, design changes, textile finalization and shipping. Custom made pieces require more time and attention and as with all aspects of the business, are primarily handled by me. Kiians top, is crafted in opal pink silk/satin and has elasticated ribbing at the collar, cuffs and lower-hem. The back contains a curved seaming, reminiscent of the jackets of 80’s rock-stars and firmly holds two layers of hand-made, hand-dyed fringing in matching opal pink. The back also contains the initials KIIAN.



Kiian Wears Avastavé

Fashion, Fashion Business, Love, Style, Twenties

So, as most of you that follow me on Instagram know, Avastavé is my baby, my vision and quite frankly – MY EXISTENCE. It is the pret-a-couture label, I founded at the start of the year, and marks the beginning of my journey towards building an empire. As such, we selectively collaborate with specific individuals that ignite the creative fire and exemplify our brand ethos. Enter Kiian, an artist and icon in the making, who most recently posted an image of his customised, Avastavé, creation online, as part of Unclear magazines shoot, out in stands next January.

Alice Abdel Aziz

Alice Abdel Aziz, of @StreetStyleInBeirut/ @Aliceabdelaziz, was one of the first to wear a custom Eliya crop top and skirt. The two pieces are only available to shop on 

Kiian, joins just four of the unique individuals that we’ve worked with thus far, but stand out, in that he is the first male artist to work with the brand. This also raises the gender-identity question that has for the past year been a hot-topic of discussion, both for brands, retailers and everyday people. Let me firmly establish my stance, as the founder of Avastavé,  ‘we are for everyone’.

Hebah Fasciolo

Hebah Fasciolo @hebahfasciolo truly brings her A-game to the styling arena, pairing looks reminiscent of nineties starlets with more contemporary references this budding style genius is a true Avastave-star. Seen here wearing customised, Handave Handha(Evening Moon) trousers in silver jacquard.  Shop on

Our collections in the future, may read women’s & men’s, but it is merely for business purposes i.e: inventory, buyers, press, etc. What is online now, as far as i’m concerned can be shopped by everyone- regardless of sex. As contemporary labels, I believe we play an enormous role in shifting the perception of gender and sexuality, and should acknowledge that as businesses it is our duty to address not just the public of today, but tomorrow as well.


Teen Movies

Fashion, Fashion Business, Life choices, Style, Twenties, Uncategorized

Do you have a copy of Mean Girls saved on a hard drive somewhere that you watch at least every six months? Do you inadvertently choose that feel-good movie of teenage angst over that documentary on Sea Gulls that you know would probably make for better conversation? Well, if you do then you are an eternal optimist, and here’s why.

Handsome Devil Movie


(Image Handsome Devil) The subject of most teen movies is often about overcoming hurdles whether it be physical or emotional and often the lead character and friends comes out the other side, a little scathed but the better for it. If you pay close attention, by revisiting these teen movies and their various scenarios you learn something about yourself. You begin to notice how as you grow older you start to roll your eyes when the lead quarterback asks out the nerdy girl, friends are loyal to a fault and you even start to look at your phone when you know the movies nearing a happy ending. Am I wrong?

Most of us have become so averse to the thought of things simply working out that watching it on screen often makes us question the authenticity of the film itself. Now I’m not saying that every teen movie deserves an award or that every one of the scenarios isn’t cringe worthy, but if you’re like me you know why you watch them. They help you imagine a childhood you didn’t have. Schooling in the Middle East followed by high school and university in the region never fulfilled me. Because even though at a point I learned to be outwardly proud of who I am, I never had that it-moment, that teen movie moment where the one person that I liked turned around and said ‘Hey, it’s tough but I love you too.

Mean Girls Movie

(Image Mean Girls) That’s a pattern that’s followed through into my late twenties, I rarely fall but when I do it’s often for the ones that don’t know themselves. Some teen movies still give me that sense of elation that you felt when you saw your crush walk through the door or that moment when you realize being who you are is okay. These movies also serve to diminish our growing sense of doubt and cynicism with their positivity. How many people do you meet today that tell you they still believe in true love? As most of you know a few months back I released #TheLoveProject for my brand Avastave, which showcased people from various walks of life talking about what love means to them which was a learning experience for me. No matter how cynical you are it pays to be aware that love, even in the smallest form can change your very core. Now, when I say love I don’t mean that being single or alone is negative, in fact you could love various other things just as much as you love your partner but, you have to love. Because, love keeps you alive in a time when the world is shrouded in so much fear and doubt.

Wild Child with Emma Roberts

(Image Wild Child) So, if you’re broke at the moment stay in this weekend, pop in a good old teen movie, have a cry, multiple sighs and a lot of laughs and remember to be that kid who believed in love, because that is the person you were before the world forced you to change.