Omani designer Amal Al Raisi has been designing kaftans and abayas for over a decade. The mother-of-two has since switched gears to expand her design portfolio with the launch of a contemporary ready-to-wear line alongside her traditional label. Today based in Muscat, she conjures the most beautiful modern creations that still feel rooted in heritage.
TL: Traditional craftsmanship is part of your DNA, was this something you always wanted to incorporate?
AAR: Definitely! Amal Al Raisi designs are born out of the love for traditional craftsmanship. Incorporating this adds a luxurious element to every style while simultaneously boasting Omani talent.
Your silhouette’s and designs are instantly recognisable. How did you find the magic pivot point between tradition and modernity?
Reinventing classics by blending traditional designs with a modern aesthetic is my favorite way of showcasing what this region has to offer. My magic pivot point between tradition and modernity is drawing inspiration from Omani heritage and translating this into designs that symbolize it.
Was it always a dream to launch your own line and how did you know it was the right time?
On the hunt for my perfect wedding dress, I wasn’t able to find something that suited my taste. As a result, I decided to design my own wedding dress. Now when I look back at it, it was a risky step but a step in the right direction. During this process, I realized what my passion was and this fueled me to start my journey into fashion.
We were lucky enough to attend your latest show. Tell us about that…?
My latest show was to launch my Spring/Summer 2019 collection. This collection was inspired by the historic port of Al Baleed in Salalah. To pay homage to this UNESCO world heritage and my inspiration, the National Museum in Oman felt like the right place to showcase my latest collection.
The museum is renowned as a cultural platform showcasing the nation’s heritage both locally and internationally. It was a great opportunity to show the international VIP guests who attended the different aspects of Omani culture in the midst of Omani history.
Since you launched the brand, what to date has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome and how did you achieve that?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to face is balancing both the creative and business sides of the brand. The key to overcoming any obstacles or challenges is having a supportive and dedicated team through it all.
Did you see the digital landscape coming and how has it changed the way you worked has it been a benefit?
The digital landscape is beneficial as it helps boost a brand’s identity and showcase what it stands for. It has helped in putting my brand on the international fashion map by crossing many barriers and connecting with people all over the world.
With all the elements it takes to build a brand, what have you found is the secret to finding the ever elusive lifestyle balance and do you ever disconnect?
When you run your own business, it is not easy to disconnect. However, it is important to maintain a healthy balance between work and family. I think the secret is to spend as much time as I can with my kids!
What do your first 30 mins look like in the morning/ do you have any rituals which set your day and the last 30 mins before bed?
My day begins with a tea in my garden. I immerse myself into nature and its sounds which gives me the peace and positivity I need to kick start my day. The last 30 minutes of my day is usually spent with my kids, getting them ready for bed.
Which destinations have provided the most surprising inspiration/ sourcing locations for you?
It has always been Oman! Omani heritage and history is the root of all Amal Al Raisi designs. The historic port of Al Baleed in Salalah inspired my SS’19 collection and was also the location for the photoshoot! There is so much history that lies here which I have translated through elements that symbolize it such as a Chinese coin from the Tang Dynasty to represent how this port served as a trading hub to the East.
What do you feel is real luxury to today’s global woman?
Every woman has power radiating from them but the freedom to use it is a real luxury. In today’s world, women have the power to take on many roles on a daily basis. Many of us aren’t only identified as mothers or wives but also as businesswomen and leaders in their field.
Oman also celebrates an Omani Women’s Day which is a true indication of how we are honored for our roles in the society and how it contributes to the development of our country.
Do you have a particular creative process you follow from concept to completion for each of your designs?
Once I have my inspiration, the creativity flows naturally. I work on the elements that my inspiration can be identified by and translate them into different patterns.
For example, to illustrate the workings of Al Baleed Port, I have created patterns of a merchant scale and shapes of continents to enhance the nautical background. I then fuse this with my signature style of embellishments and create a color palette that would suit both the inspiration and the feminine aesthetic.
Do you notice a difference in buying habits and tastes across the GCC and beyond/ do you have global clients in unusual locations?
Yes, the buying habits and tastes do differ between the GCC and global clients. In the GCC, I see a lot of instant shoppers. They are more experimentative in terms of colors and prefer more modest styles. Whereas, my global clients usually prefer pastel shades with subtle embroidery and are more inclined to the ready-to-wear collection.
How does your aesthetic translate into your home and interior pieces?
I feel my aesthetic taste has a lot of influence in my home décor. My home speaks of my style which is simple, elegant and chic.
Which pieces are in your shopping bag on THE LIST?
With summer around the corner, I’ve got my eye on the LOEWE Filipa oversized D-frame sunglasses and Maison Michel ‘Kate’ fedora hat. A pair of the yellow Francesco Russo D’orsay suede pumps are also in my shopping bag which I think will make the perfect statement this Eid!
If you could save one sentimental piece from your home or your office, what would it be and why?
It would be my first Omani Women’s Award from my office as it is very close to my heart.
What can we look forward to seeing more of in 2019 from Amal Al Raisi?
More of my attempt at putting Oman on the international fashion map!
Shop Amal Al Raisi