Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Exclusive! CeleBlog: Rana Al-Basri Mouawad on Bras for a Cause


Bras for a Cause is a charity event, and by nature, it calls for the humane, kind and generous side of us. It is without a doubt the perfect platform for Rana Mouawad, the founder and creative brain behind Maison Rana, a label resulting from the fusion between art and fashion.

The term Maison in French translates to "house" but can also mean "home". And this is what Maison Rana is in essence, a home. A home for artists to shine and grow. The concept is simple: a fashion label that creates prêt-a-porter collections which are inspired by artworks such as paintings, sculptures or photography while maintaining a transparent connection to the original art pieces.

Indeed, like any other designer out there, Rana Mouawad finds inspiration in the things she loves; in her case, art and culture. But unlike any other designer out there Rana Mouawad's creations openly carry the name of the artist who inspired them. 

Windows of Life collection (S/S2011)

A label with the social responsibility to promote other striving artists is rare and truly commendable. It is refreshing to see a young, ambitious woman not only championing culture and the arts in her work but also willing to share a piece of her success with those who inspire her.

You will recognize this quality in a few moments when you read about her favorite filmmakers. It will also immediately strike you should you visit her Facebook page where she openly acknowledges her friends and those who helped her. 

Scoop Alert!

The refreshingly generous designer reveals "Maison Rana will be exhibiting at the "Pret a Porter Paris" Exhibition at PFW this Sept :-) You're the first to know".

Congratulations are in order! ;)

Now aren't you just a teeny bit more curious?
Uncover Maison Rana as Ms. Mouawad herself discloses yet a few more secrets.

The Designer behind the Brand

Name, age, nationality and current country of residence
Rana Al-Basri Mouawad, 35 in August, I’m Iraqi, Living in Dubai.

What’s your design background?
Just the love and passion for design, colors and clothes. 

Describe yourself in three words
Passionate, Committed, Ridiculous when it comes to details.

Windows of Life collection (S/S2011)

Who’s your favorite designer?
Many! I love weird cuts, and I love a story behind a dress… in love with the work of Ralph Rucci, Alexander McQueen, Karen Karam, to name a few.

What kind of music inspires you?
Depending on the mood. Recently, I’ve been listening to Classics and Jazz.

What’s your favorite movie?
Many again! Sorry for that, but I love movies and watch a lot of them during the week, especially international ones! The Godfather, City of God (Brazilian Movie), The Circle (Persian Movie), No Man’s Land (Serbian Movie), and I love the work of Mahmoud Kaabour, and his recent documentary Teta Alf Marra.. Absolutely fabulous! .

If you hadn’t been a designer, what profession would you have chosen?
I am very lucky that I have already worked in the profession that I love which is advertising, marketing and communication. It gives you a great perspective on brands, image and production. Now, I am living my other passion that is fashion.

The Brand

Describe your label in three words
Creative, Special, Stylish.

When did you establish it?

Who is your target audience?
A woman who knows her sense of style and likes to experiment and try new pieces.

Windows of Life collection (S/S2011)

Tell us a little bit about your creative process: how long does it take for you to create a new collection, what inspires you, how do you choose colors, fabrics, themes?
Every collection in Maison Rana is inspired by art or culture (the art could be a painting or sculpture or photography, etc.). I try to translate the artist’s work and what I love about it or the city I visited and its beautiful culture into the designs, be it in cuts, draping and color palette. It takes me months to come up with a new collection, so I always try to multitask and work couple of collections at the same time, to give each collection the time I need for it. Insane but never been happier in my life.

Windows of Life collection (S/S2011)

The Event: Bras for a Cause Middle East

Why did you decide to participate?
The cause hits home for me.. I had few family members who battled breast cancer and I am blessed that they won the battle. I really believe that women are not powerless and we will win against this, by loving, supporting and helping each other.

What did you design, a bra or a t-shirt?
Couple of T-Shirts.

What inspired your design?
One is about super power. The other is just another way of expressing the support outside the boundaries of the pink ribbon or the pink bracelet.

Did you take a different approach when designing for cancer survivors (or their supporters) or did you consider them as any other client?
Not really, I wanted to design something for the cause of course, and to translate the message on a t-shirt…but I always had in-mind the style aspect. I wanted to make sure that the result is something that women would buy for both the support of the cause and also because it is something stylish and they would wear. I wanted to make sure it is an addition to their wardrobe, and not just a timely purchase that will be given away… (Basically making sure it doesn’t look like a promotional t-shirt)...

What role do you think fashion can play in the fight against cancer and empowering cancer survivors?
Fashion can do a lot… in addition to financial support, the empowerment comes from having these survivors always in-mind, and so altering some designs to make it comfortable for the survivors to enjoy as well.

How do you view the Middle East as a fashion platform and audience to your creative vision?
The Middle Eastern woman is very stylish and fashionable. I strongly believe that. However, there are some women who are still battling to find their sense of style, and therefore resolve to copy. I believe that my audiences are women who love to experiment, believe in culture and art, and interested in knowing the story behind what they are wearing.

Windows of Life collection (S/S2011)

Is this event the first time you present your work to Arab audiences? If yes, then what are your expectations and hopes with this first-time participation?
This is the first time I participate in a competition. I honestly have no expectations because I am participating to support the cause, and not to ensure a win. I am here because I hope that a competition like this can start a movement (at least in the ME) to push us as designers and buyers for boutiques to consider collections or designs for survivors of cancer, and to push the envelope on Breast cancer support, finding a cure, pushing early check-ups and importantly eliminating the stigma of thinking of death or of body scarring when it comes to this disease.

As you know, there is a category for aspiring designers in the competition. How would you like to inspire young designers through your participation in Bras for a Cause?
I hope that through my participation, aspiring designers see that it is important to support something they truly relate to or believe in, not only for the design aspect, but also for them as individuals… to give back to their community through something they are good in. It is a great opportunity to pay it forward, as they say.

Windows of Life collection (S/S2011)

Following that experience, would you consider expanding on your Bras for a Cause design and creating collections that speak to cancer survivors in the future?
This is something to consider, at least having the survivors’ challenges in mind when designing a new piece and making sure they are considered.

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