Shimmy Eissa

On her Dernier Cri and Road To Success   

Fashion design is what she has always dreamt of doing. She sought it since she was a child, and she’s made it all the way to Egyptian cinema -designing clothes for some of our favourite TV shows and films. If you’re wondering where she gets her dexterous ideas, here’s what she told us.

What sparked your interest in fashion?

It developed from a very young age. As a little girl, I was obsessed with the elegant fashion in Egyptian black and white cinema. Haute couture from Faten Hamama to Hind Rostom inspired me greatly. Cinema was my gateway to the fashion industry.

Is fashion design related to your studies? Have you always planned this career path?

No, I have a bachelor’s degree in commerce.  I worked in marketing for around six years before I studied fashion for three. Working in marketing was excellent experience that gave me the courage to socialize and be able to persuade people to buy the product or service I’m advertising for. It served as a great base before stepping in the fashion industry.

How do you balance creativity with business?

That was the hardest part! It was even worse when I did not have a team. Working alone can really depress you and suck the fun out of anything you do.  That’s when I decided I needed a PR company to work for ‘SHi’ as well as other young designers for whom I can delegate some of my responsibilities while I manage the creative part and work within my time schedule.

What were your greatest obstacles in getting where you are now?

Time and money. The former was when I managed all the costume designing and styling myself, so I had no time to create a new collection or open my own workshop. The latter was an issue until I met an amazing partner who believed in me and supported me financially. He motivated me greatly, and I’m very thankful for him.

What fashion designer would you say influences you?

Coco Chanel of course! She was not only creative in fashion, but she was a fighter. In my opinion, she helped emancipate women through her work. I’ve always read about her personal and professional life; how she used to dress the working female class until she became the best. To me, she still lives.

Where do you find inspiration for your ideas?

Everything from fashion channels and paintings to nature and architecture!

Who was your favourite celebrity to dress and why?

I have not dressed her yet, but it shall be Jennifer Lopez whenever that happens! I find her extremely feminine as well as powerful, exactly the way ‘SHi’ women are. I’m currently working on sending her one of my designs, and it’s a small world so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

What TV show/film do you aspire to work for?

It’s my dream to work with a concept like Spartacus, just because I’d love to work with all the chiffon and draping layers of medieval silk designs. Women back then ruled both politically and fashion wise! My obsession with leather would be satiated when working with the male designs along with all the metal and belts. I think it would be every designer’s dream assignment.

What was your most challenging assignment and how did it turn out?

My professor had given us a colourful pepper picture and asked us to create 10 designs out of it. Everyone was stunned, but then we decided to deal with the material that was given to us, and everyone actually created beautiful designs from puffy skirts and dresses to trousers. It was a great lesson to employ our imagination to create designs with whatever we had.

How do you select the materials you use?

I create a research board before I commence designing. I have to accurately know what material is perfectly becoming of the design. I sometimes select a single material for an entire collection. Last winter, I went for leather. So it really depends on the collections.

What is your opinion on eco-fashion?

Nature is the biggest inspiration for every artist, and we must not forget that our first fabric was a bunch of leaves! I’m okay with this trend; it’s definitely much better than what Lady gaga did with her meat outfit. I think we should repay the environment by taking care of it.

What’s next for Shimmy?

A YouTube channel as a fashion consultant for Arab women. No one was born with a fashion sense, and I want to be the one to instill it in teens and adults.

Any advice you want to give to aspiring fashion designers?

It’s a tough business; so don’t expect to have it easy! Don’t settle for other trends, and always bring out your own taste, you’ll find that one day people will recognize your brand without checking the tag! It’s not impossible to be an Elie Saab with enough hard work.