Meeting up with Yasmine Yeya!
Meeting up with Yasmine Yeya! In a high-ceiling fancy apartment in the authentic Heliopolis district in Cairo lays the atelier of Yasmine Yeya who is now considered one of Egypt’s best couturiers. With a French modern ambiance embellished with elegantly massive mirrors, dangling chandelier and photos of real brides who were lucky enough to grab fairytale-like gowns signed by Yeya, you will certainly get enchanted by the surreal world of Yasmine Yeya’s couture.
With a constantly-ringing phone with clients trying to book a first-time appointment or shift their scheduled fittings to catch Yeya who seems to be constantly hard-to-reach, you can tell that seeing the creative lady face-to-face might be Mission Impossible; an intimidating idea that might cross your mind while you’re awaiting her while she finishes off a glamorous gown for an A-list bride-to-be. But then, all your fears are gone astray when the lady walks out of the door to greet you in person with her welcoming smile and humble attitude that would make you forget all about the image you had in mind of a busy lady who has limited time for fashion editors not to mention bloggers.
Thank you Yasmine for this interview! Rumor has it that you’re always out of reach. Is that true?
Well, it is not a rumor. It is a FACT! I love what I do, but it does not define me. I’m a designer and it is part of my life. However, I have another personal life with kids and family. Even as a designer, I need to be left alone for some time as I work basically with my brains. I’m not the kind of person who would be all over the place with lots of stuff to do and so many people to meet and talk to. If there is anything that I enjoy doing the most, it would definitely be being by the beach and filling my soul with beautiful stuff so that I can go back to work and feel motivated and able to create something new.
People know about your brand and designs, but they know very little about you. Tell us more about yourself; your studies, work…, etc.
Well, I studied Business Administration at the American University in Cairo with a minor in Arts. I was a Grade-A student! Right after graduation, I worked in the Advertising field for about four years till I decided to become a designer.
You started off in 2006, and then there was the BIG BOOM two years later when you participated in LBC’s Mission Fashion. Tell us about that experience. How did it come through?
It all happened by coincidence. I was not intending on participating at all! When I look back, I feel amazed by those random things thrown your way at random times to change your life. I was actually attending my birthday party wearing one of my designs, and someone came along asking about the designer of my dress. She was very surprised to know that it was me. She turned out to be one of the show’s producers and asked me to join. At first, I was hesitant about joining as I didn’t formally study Fashion Design (I learned all about it at home from my granny and my mother), but she assured me that as long as I knew my stitches, I would do fine. The rest is history.
How was the experience?
It was utterly difficult, but life-altering at the same time. I had to stay in a confined place with people whom I never met before, working day and night and with limited access to my family back home. But apart from all of that, I started taking myself seriously during the show. I was competing with people who studied Fashion Design for five years, you know. When I reached the finals and came in second, I realized that I should take my work as a designer more seriously.
Are you still in touch with any of the contestants?
Well, we talk from time to time through Facebook, but did not really have the chance to meet up since the show.
You’re Egyptian French. How did such different cultures shape your mindset as a designer?
Well, for me Fashion is purely French. Having French blood has given me the chance to learn couture in the first place. On the other hand, the Egyptian culture has enabled me to understand what femininity is all about. You can see in my designs how feminine the woman is portrayed. So, you can say that the French culture has influenced my vision of Fashion, while the Egyptian culture has shaped my vision of women.
You’ve mentioned once that you have a big passion for fabrics. What’s your favorite fabric?
I LOVE them all! But, of course there is lace which I enjoy working with. You can give me any piece of fabric and I will make you a dress just using it. It all depends on how you employ it.
You’ve recently collaborate with Egyptian Jeweler Sabry Maarouf. How did the collaboration come through?
One of my clients wanted an Ancient Egyptian-inspired wedding gown. As you know, Ancient Egyptians dressed plainly with tons of jewelry, so a bejeweled gown was the main goal. I have made a lot of research about who should carry out such a project. I finally set my mind on Sabry Maarouf as I’m their biggest fan and it is an Egyptian brand which definitely added authenticity to the project.
When you meet a bride-to-be, do you come up with an idea for her gown right away or do you get influenced by her input?
I don’t have something specific on my mind till I actually talk to her. She influences me indirectly through her personality. In most cases, brides have something on her mind that will not suit her. Normally, you cannot assess your looks, size and what fits you most properly.
Are you always satisfied with the final output?
I have to be satisfied with the whole output. I’ve never hated any of previous designs, but sometimes I feel that something could have been added or removed. It is a matter of personal preferences. But, in general, I have to be pleased with the final output.
What are your most and least favorite parts of being a Fashion Designer?
My favorite part would be making the brides and their moms very happy. The worst part is the propaganda of being a designer. Some people need to shut up and do their work!
Is there a certain celebrity or woman that you want to dress?
What turns me on as a designer is a woman’s spirit. A beautiful lady with a beautiful spirit is a rocking dress! A beautiful lady with an okay personality makes an okay dress. I like working with women who inspire me with their great spirits!
Any plans to expand your business?
Yes! We will be opening soon a new branch in Dubai.