NAME: Dylon Adonis
NATIONALITY: South African
FAVE TV SHOW: Daredevil
The Supermodel in the Making
“There’s a lot of racism on the runway, especially in Europe”
South African-born Dylon Adonis – yes, that’s his real name – originally wanted to be a model, but his parents pushed him into choosing a major so he studied his second passion – fashion. Now he’s a double threat, as he returns to modelling full-time with a BFA in fashion design under his belt…
What is it that attracts you to modelling?
I like the euphoria of modelling – meeting new people and travelling. It’s a very taboo subject, but there’s a lot of racism on the runway, especially in Europe. Sometimes they only choose one token person of colour, so I want to change the modelling industry.
Does being a model give you a different perspective on design?
I see which clothes are comfortable, which fabrics work together and which don’t and how much space I need for movement.
What’s the advantage to studying at VCUQatar?
Here in Doha, we’re more focussed on the European market and clientele, rather than the American one. When I look at the home campus, I see they’re a lot more technical – we have more time for creativity and that gives us free rein. A lot of universities don’t have an art foundation and go straight into design, but we had a little glimpse into every major.
What is your creative process?
Before university, I was a lot more avant garde with my designs, but I’ve toned down my creativity so I can design for the customer: what would look good on them, what they want to wear. Of course, I do runway, so I know which fabrics work there. As a designer you really need to think where you’re going to present it –it needs to look good when it hangs. If it looks good on the runway but you’re selling it later on, you may have to change the fabric. Little things like that, you have to consider.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I’m moving to New York in June. I’m already set up with a modelling agency called Identities Incorporated. I want to focus on modelling for now, but my dream is to work in haute couture. I’d love to move to Paris and work for one of the designers there. Eventually I want to build up my fashion knowledge and open my own business.
NAME: Tamader Al Sultan
FAVE TV SHOW: The 100
“The market here is really good for those who want to start their brands”
Tamader Al Sultan is an impeccable dresser with an eye for fashion and her mind on the future, particularly in Europe… Keep an eye on her Instagram @tmathir where she will be announcing her next steps.
Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
When I was younger I always liked art. I heard about VCUQatar when I was about 12 and I came for an open day, and I went to a fashion illustration class and I really enjoyed it. When it was time to go to university, I only applied for one – VCUQatar – and was accepted into the fashion department.
Do you think there’s a difference between women who wear abayas and women who don’t when it comes to fashion?
I don’t worry too much about abayas, because I steal my sister’s! What I wear under abayas is usually really simple and really light, as the weather is really hot now. I think there isn’t a difference between a person who wear an abaya and someone who doesn’t – for example, when we visit our friends we always dress up.
What do you like to design?
My aesthetic is quite feminine, with colourful, soft fabrics. But I don’t want to categorise myself with one look. All the women in my family are really well dressed; everyone likes to dress up. As a Qatari girl, you know what other Qatari women want to wear. I prefer to design what is underneath abayas, though.
Are you more interested in haute couture or pret-a-porter?
Pret-a-porter. I wanted to do more couture things, but for now I’m working on a collection for Ramadan. Although I had to be really specific during my time at VCUQatar, I want to keep my options really open. I’m thinking about hiring some seamstresses and pattern makers: I’ll teach them my way of doing things, and then I’ll start my brand. A lot of Qatari fashion designers don’t know how to make the clothes – they just hand the design over to a tailor, who has to figure out how to do it for them. It’s complicated – what if the person can’t get in and out of the garment easily?
What’s your next move?
Instead of having a big collection, I was thinking of doing a jalabiya per day for Ramadan. When there is an event and you don’t know what to wear, they can call and the garment will be delivered. I want to live abroad and do internships abroad with big fashion houses. I don’t want to do a masters, but I do want to go back to school and do a more focussed course, like embroidery. I want to launch my own brand, but I want to do it step-by-step. I think the market here is really good for those who want to start their brands, start around the Gulf and then internationally.
NAME: Kinda Morshed
FAVE TV SHOW: Once Upon A Time
FAVE PLACE IN DOHA: “The movies”
The Costume Designer
“I have a strong emotional factor in my work: fashion doesn’t work for me”
here’s more to fashion design than trends, as Yemeni graduate Kinda Morshed knows. And instead of appearing on labels, she’s aiming to put her name on cinema closing credits…
How did you get into design?
I started drawing gift cards. Nothing really elaborate, but they were really cute. My sister had a friend who was good at drawing Manga characters, and I asked her to do it slowly so I could learn how to do it. I actually wanted to do interior design. A few years later, I was bored to death in a class and I started drawing clothes.
What are you inspired by?
My work and my illustrations are very emotional. I’m almost never inspired by something visual – I always think about the feeling I want to evoke from a collection, within myself and others. I start thinking about visual concepts that can deliver my point of view. I’m not into fashion, I’m into costume design. Every designer has a character or a muse that inspires them. For me, it’s the strong, powerful woman. I love Queen Elizabeth I: she kept men on their toes, I’m in love with the evil queens in fairy tales…
What’s the difference between fashion and costume design?
Fashion design is amazing. Designers create clothes that people can spend their lives in, but for me it has no depth. I have a strong emotional factor in my work: fashion doesn’t work for me. Recently, I loved the green dress that the step-mother wears to the ball in Cinderella. My heart stopped when I saw that dress! I really love the costumes in The Duchess: I loved what Keira Knightley wore.
What’s next for you?
I want to do a masters in costume design, in Central Saint Martins in London. I love London. I did my internship with Susan Kulkarni, a fabulous costume designer. She does theatre and films, she did Grand Budapest Hotel and a season of Downton Abbey.
What’s your personal style?
I’m not trendy. It erases people’s personality and I don’t like that. People should be able to express themselves. If you have a very cute girl, and a girl with very strong attitude, you can’t make them wear the same clothes.
NAME: Soraya Teschner
FAVE TV SHOW: Mad Men
The Wild Card
“If you want to collaborate with anyone in the fashion industry in Doha, it’s possible”
American designer Soraya Teschner is a student who actually transferred from VCU in Richmond, Virginia to study fashion design in Doha…
How did you get into fashion design?
I have always been making art. When I was 16, my mother decided to open a women's clothing boutique. I would often work in her store and serve as a stylist and a window dresser. I started to go to the buyer’s shows and ended up being her buyer at the MODA Las Vegas buying show. After that experience, I knew I wanted to be in fashion. The energy was so exciting, I knew it was something I would never grow bored of.
What’s your creative process?
I have a different process of design development than most. I prefer to directly drape on the form - or even better, on the model. I'm interested in the movement of fabric, so it’s important to have the body in front of you. Then I pattern, make the initial sample, solve problems through illustration then rework it. At the end, you have something that's totally yours.
Why did you choose to transfer to Doha? In America, the fashion teaching is so geared to sellability. Don't get me wrong, I think this is important – however, I was interested in spending time manipulating textiles and making garments with complicated construction. I felt that the teaching style in Qatar pushed me to take risks and gave me more freedom to experiment.
What opportunities are there for designers here?
Well, the fashion community in Qatar is relatively small. So if you want to collaborate with someone, it’s possible to reach them. I took that opportunity and worked with different artists for some photography projects, such as make-up artist Imelda Jurasova and the photographer Ferhan Khan. There is a lot of talent here. I also got involved with coordinating models and scouting them for VCU Qatar, which was also very exciting.
What are your plans now you’ve graduated?
I plan to move to New York in mid-June and find design work there. I know a lot of fashion designers from Richmond and Qatar who are moving there, so it feels like I have a family I'm going to.
Who inspires you? Who are your muses?
I'm inspired by women who are soft and strong and who have grace and strength. I am inspired by my mother, who I believe encompasses those qualities. As far as muses, I imagine my clothing on models Soo Joo or Arizona Muse. Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to dress them one day!
Are you going to start your own brand?
People keep telling me to wait until I have ten years more experience before I start a brand. But, if everyone was an expert before they decided to do something, nothing would ever happen. I have in mind a menswear brand that I might start "in the basement" while I'm doing other freelance design work. I see it happening in the next couple years.
What was the most important thing you learned in VCUQ?
VCUQ fashion is a very diverse program. When you live in one place your whole life you think design is very black and white – that there is only one way to do it. Then you come here, and you learn about the wildly different backgrounds people are coming from. When they say a colour is right for that jacket, it’s important to listen, but also to listen to yourself.