Born in Saudi Arabia, spending years in Switzerland, and now based in Dubai, Arwa Al Banawi is a designer known for her love for elaborate prints and for taking inspiration from diverse sources to create unique and complete pieces. Her latest line – the Autumn /Winter 2018 collection – beautifully merges heritage and modernism, taking inspiration from the recent empowerment movements by women across the globe, particularly Saudi Arabia, as well as the region's rich Bedouin history.
According to Grazia Middle East, Al Banawi grew up learning about fashion from her parents. In fact, her recent designs, which include sharp dressing with a retro twist, have been heavily inspired by them. As a woman who has spent most of her life moving between different spaces, Al Banawi credits travelling as a major part of her design inspiration, which is focused around her passion for storytelling.
Speaking to the magazine, Al Banawi explained that her most recent experience of finally being able to show her collection in Saudi Arabia was moving, saying, “It’s a new era right now for Saudi Arabia, especially for women. The whole world should come and see what we’re made of.”
“I wanted to take the rich history of our Kingdom and make it feel contemporary,” she continued. “I wanted to reflect the mood of our society right now: that we are proud of what came before us, but even more excited about what could come next.”
As explained on her website, the young designer began her journey into fashion as a fashion and lifestyle blogger in her hometown of Jeddah. Then, in 2012, she moved to Dubai where she took up a career in banking whilst also enrolling in short courses in Fashion Design with London College of Fashion. It was during this period that she realized her true passion lay in design. Three years after making the move to Dubai, Al Banawi launched her debut collection of ready-to-wear suits and shirts in 2015 and has been making a name for herself ever since.