Mashail Alhusaini, the Saudi-Arabian designer behind Masha Design, is a passionate, creative force who uses different cultural influences to inspire the construction of her work. All of her designs come from the heart, and it is extremely apparent that she is doing what she loves most: making unique pieces for everyone to enjoy. From studying at prestigious design schools across Europe, Mashail is deeply inspired by the people she surrounds herself with, along with the different stories she reads. Take a look at our interview below to get inside the mind and source of inspiration for her brand.
TBL: Tell me a little bit about your background in fashion.
MA: I have always loved fashion. I began studying at the Aquefia Academy for two years. This school specialized in haute couture. Once I got my degree, I moved to Milan to get a Bachelor’s Degree and hoped to enhance my studies of fashion. This school focused much more on ready-to-wear peices, which was the opposite of the school I previously attended. Once I got that degree, I decided to do my Master’s at Ravensbond College, a city university in London.
TBL: What was your favorite part of completing your Master’s program?
MA: We focused most on transformable fashion. You had to learn how to take an idea and turn your vision into a reality. I understood that I needed to do something really different during my time at school when getting my Master’s. I made a leather out of magnets to attract to other fabrics. Essentially, I transformed something as simple as magnets and turned it into something wearable and innovative.
TBL: What did you end up doing for your Master’s Thesis?
MA: I was always extremely interested in the Zodiac. It was funny because most of the time was spent researching, so when it came down to what I was going to pursue for my collection, I had originally thought that I wanted to do one piece of clothing for each personality of the zodiac. My professors started to lead me on this, but every time, they told me to narrow it down. So, I narrowed it down to doing the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water. Again, my professors told me to make it more concentrated. So, I ended up just focusing on the Capricorn sign, because that’s what I am. I got very into it and began to make my line based off of the stories of Capricorn Greek Mythology.
TBL: What about Capricorn Mythology interested you the most?
MA: There was one story where God’s hands go to Egypt, metaphorically. A monster came suddenly, was completely frightened and transformed into a half fish, half goat. The image of this story and these ideas together is what inspired my line of transformable fashion. I used magnets because they come from the earth and Capricorn is an earth sign.
TBL: What is the biggest challenge you face when constructing a piece?
MA: Differentiating between your head and your heart. There are a lot of struggles in my pieces because I am constantly going back and forth between my love of haute couture pieces and more ready to wear items. My heart tells me one thing and my mind tells me another! My professors all told me they could see this struggle come out in my pieces.
TBL: What are some obstacles you have faced in getting your brand into the marketplace?
MA: Since starting my company two years ago, I have learned that the market itself is a huge obstacle for me. I prefer to make clothing that is more of a piece of art rather than something basic you can find in the mall. My designs are modern and different and some people can’t process them the way I want them to. Also, since I was basically raised immersed in European culture, my designs have a lot of this influence. Since I live in Saudi Arabia now, the market there is different and they don’t necessarily understand European fashion.
TBL: What has been one of your favorite pieces you’ve made so far?
MA: I love making haute couture pieces for royal families in Saudi Arabia. Everyone always has something special to go to, whether a wedding or party, and no one wants to have the same thing, so they always go to people to make their own pieces. I made everything for them – from nightgowns to evening gowns, you name it.
TBL: Do you only have one high-end line?
MA: No, I actually have three levels. I have a haute couture brand, a mid-range collection, and an affordable collection. They all have the same amount of energy put into it, but they are just at different price points. The more design work that goes into it, the more expensive it is. The pieces range anywhere from $100 to $2,000.
TBL: What is your goal in having the three different lines?
MA: I want to complete the marketplace in Saudi Arabia. I want to have everyone be able to enjoy my clothing and feel good in them. I want to make affordable, but high quality pieces at a good price.
TBL: What are the ultimate goals that you have for your company as a brand in the future?
MA: I want to be known as a real international designer. People are able to have a successful business if they know how business operates, but when it comes to designing pieces, you have to look at it as a piece of art. I think that once you get this down, you become a real designer. I want to showcase my creativity and I want my collection to be well-respected.
TBL: What is some advice you would give to an up and coming fashion designer?
MA: The fashion world is cutthroat. It is an expanding industry where you have a lot of competition. In order to survive, you must always be different. Your style, your designs, everything has to be innovative and unique. You must constantly seek out what inspires you as a designer and immerse yourself in it at all times. You must always understand your customer and what they are looking for. Determination and understanding trends is also extremely important.
TBL: How do you define success for yourself?
MA: I can tell you, success for me has nothing to do with sales. Receiving e-mails from people across the world that I don’t even know who are from places like Russia and Qatar, who just write to me telling me that they are inspired by my pieces is what makes me the happiest.
Dress and shoes: Masha Design
(Editor’s note: Mashail is concentrating on making evening gowns).
Photos and story by: Blair Cassuto
Photos taken at: Bal Harbour Shops, Miami, Florida.