On ASORY Going Multi-National and Building a Fashion Empire
Since our talk with her last year, Rana Yousry continued developing her fashion empire beyond local borders; as well as making history with collections that intentionally obfuscate the lines between haute couture and prêt-à-porter by creating and claiming Prête-à-Couture. ASORY House continues to introduce extraordinary designs that boast the best of both worlds in modern fashion: elegance and eccentricity. The young icon, who took to the finale at AFW in Dubai, has launched her newest collection, Black Rose. The collection also made it to the first-ever Fashion Week in Saudi Arabia, etching ASORY’s name in the MENA region’s fashion history. Check out our exclusive catch-up with Rana. Yousry.
How do you feel about ASORY House’s latest collections for 2018?
This year’s collection is our launching project. It shows the diversity of ASORY women, as well as how powerful and successful they are. I loved seeing the looks on people’s faces when they first saw it on the runway, and their reaction taught me a lot. I saw what it added, what was missing, and what I learnt from the experience. I view it as my graduate collection, and I’m looking forward to launching my sophisticated collection.
Black Rose is very eccentric with a gothic flair. What inspired this?
It is classic and eccentric, but not gothic. It defines who I am, who ASORY is and who ASORY women are. It’s very feminine, very powerful, very bold, very classic; and it amalgamates a classic touch with structured edges.
How was your experience having this haute-couture/prête-à-couture collection featured at the 6th edition of Arab Fashion Week (AFW)?
We’re the only brand that has taken the right to claim prête and haute couture. We have been working for a year and a half in silence, and nobody knew what we were doing. We were building our fashion empire. We hit the market through the AFW, which partnered with London Fashion Council, and took place in Riyad and Dubai. It was the first Fashion Week in the kingdom. Our collection was up along with Roberto Cavalli, Jean Paul Gaultier and Tony Ward. It’s forbidden for a startup to take the finale at Arab Fashion Week in Dubai; but I travelled to talk my way through, and I got my acceptance letter as the first Egyptian brand and very first startup to make it to the finale.
Do you consider yourself a feminist designer?
I don’t like to trap myself in a box. I’m building a fashion empire, so I don’t necessarily brand myself as a feminist designer. I also want to include men’s clothes and jewellery; I just want to do it the right way, and at the right time. I believe that women have two sides. On the one hand, a woman has physical powers: she’s good at managing responsibilities, multi-tasking and being as strong as she can be. At the same time, a woman could be the epitome of femininity. This is what I try to bring out in everyone. Everyone has hidden beauty, but they don’t always see it, so I always try to enable them to.
What do you want women to feel while wearing your designs?
I used to say that when people see ASORY women, I want them to be feared — but through admiration, not genuine fright. I want them to have a wow factor, not just because the they’re beautiful, but because they’re powerful. ASORY garments are a living statement. They put real characters and confidence on display. For instance, we met Salma, my star who has down-syndrome. She’s a champion with many interests, and she has never cared for what she wears. But when we made her a dress, she said she felt like Cinderella! She used to hate weddings, and never felt like dancing. Our dress made her feel confident enough to want to go to a wedding wearing it, and all she wanted to do was take pictures and dance. She’s a star! When people see an ASORY woman, I want them to admire her for her elegance, power and beauty.
How do you balance between providing what the market wants, and employing your own touch in your pieces?
That’s the big struggle, and it all comes down to the business side. As a Creative Director, it puts me in a zone where I want to create; however, the business side has to be present. We have to do a trend analysis, which considers colours, latest crazes and what-have-you. Those are things I have to be aware of as a member of multiple fashion councils. Black Rose was more creative than commercial. My goal was to compete in the luxury fashion platform, while commercially identifying ASORY as a luxury brand. Our prête-à-couture was inspired by our main collection, while also catering to current commercial trends. Our haute couture will make sure that no one will be wearing the same piece as you.
Tell us about your sketching process. Is it all on paper, or do you have a digital space?
I usually start on an inspirational mood board. I study the concept and details, or a certain era; and I come up with a theme that fits ASORY women. I sketch as much as possible and draft as much as I can. I could wake up in the middle of the night and sketch. I love to sketch manually.
Are there any kinds of materials you refuse to work with? What is your opinion on the use of real fur and leather?
No, not at all. I love to recycle materials, including plastic. I try to make use of everything because I love exploring different types of materials. I don’t mind using artificial leather, but I still cannot tell whether I’m going to like using fur or not because I have yet to try that. I respect animal rights, of course, but I’m open to exploring first.
Does being based in Egypt pose any difficulties in acquiring raw materials for your designs?
Yes, there’s lack of materials and quality because of the trade market. We’re also low on accessories for our designs; only 65% of needed materials are available here. You have to learn to manipulate fabrics, and I love the challenge of not having everything I need here. It makes you dig deeper. However, Arab countries aspire for Egypt to become the fashion infrastructure in the Arab world, like Italy is to Europe, so let’s hope for the best.
Any advice for aspiring designers?
Enjoy the struggles. People always have the enthusiasm without being educated about the fashion field. It’s both art and business — that’s the trick. Educate, learn and explore. Also, you should realise that it’s not about you, it’s about the dream and your brand. If you express only yourself in your pieces, your brand will face difficulties. You also have to appreciate and respect team work. It’s never easy, but it’s worth it.
How do you feel after achieving multi-national success?
Proud and responsible. I have to be more mature; I have to sustain and develop my position, penetrate the market, and achieve a bigger step that goes beyond what I have done before.
What’s next for ASORY?
For now, we plan to penetrate the market, make extra couture, and integrate the education part, where couture production and team work are taught. We also look to collaborate with brands. We plan to go global, and amaze the world.
Could you tell (in)sight something exclusive?
We’re currently working on a campaign called ‘ASORY Soul’, featuring ASORY stars and icons in our teaser campaign; while collaborating with strong brands.