This week we’re interviewing Soraya, creator of The Fashion Orientalist, a platform for oriental fashion & beauty, “a place where East meets West.” She has garnered interest after channeling her penchant for indo-western ensembles, into the creation of a website that explores the way in which culture influences design.
How would you describe your personal style?
I have several different style personas; at heart I am a girly girl in love with skirts and dresses. At the office, I like to dress casually chic with a jeans and blazer combination - sometimes I love to be rebellious and throw in a rock band shirt... just because! I wouldn't say I’m the most fashionable person - I wear what I like. I believe that style is about wearing what makes you feel confident and happy. It’s a way to express yourself.
Of the clothes you own, what are the items you love most?
Pleated midi-skirts. In spring/summer I go for a colourful number and combine it with a top and a pair of strappy sandals. In autumn/winter a metallic item worked alongside some leather looks very fashionable, especially when combined with over the knee suede boots and a turtleneck.
Last year I bought a Virgos Lounge gown in navy blue with lots of embellishments. I adore their dresses - it’s very East meets West. I am of European and South-Asian descent, and thus the fusion between West and East excites me.
What motivates you?
What was the last fashion purchase you made?
A brown leather handbag to go with my beige coat. The autumn/winter season is my favourite fashion season; the colours, the layers, scarves, knitwear, boots… I try to keep warm in style.
If there's one defining moment in your career, which led you to where you are today, which would you say it was?
The Fashion Orientalist is a passion project; I also have a career in Marketing Communications. A defining moment would be 10 years ago when I moved to London for 6 months to do an internship at a luxury & lifestyle PR agency. It was my first 'big' career decision. This period helped me to grow on a personal and a professional level.
When did you start with your site, and what made you want to get into the fashion industry?
3 years ago...I would watch every red-carpet event on the E! Entertainment channel, with Giuliana Rancic as host. I noticed a lot of celebrities were wearing designs by Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, Naeem Khan, and Reem Acra, and that these designers often take inspiration from their cultural backgrounds. Also, many designers from the West were doing collections inspired by the East, like Chanel's pre-autumn/winter 2012-13 collection, which was inspired by India. I thought it was a great niche to focus on as I had always adored oriental fashion. I set up the blog, just to see where it would take me. Soon afterwards, designers started to contact me; after connecting with the site’s aim to celebrate cultural diversity, they asked to become a part of the site.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
The Fashion Orientalist is a platform that welcomes collaborations of any kind. I've already worked with several talented industry people. These collaborations give me a lot of positive energy, whether it’s a photo shoot or writing a designer profile. Anyone from the industry who would like to collaborate can get in touch with us.
What is the one thing that no one knows about you?
I always get surprised looks when I say I love alternative rock music. It’s not really a thing that no one knows about me, but it is something that people do not 'expect'. People want to figure you out and put you in a box, and when they can't it confuses them. What I like most about the art & culture scene is that you can express yourself and be inspired by others; no matter how ‘different’ they may seem, you can see the beauty in their form of expression.
The one artist/designer whose work you admire and why?
Lebanese fashion designer Rami Kadi. I have featured his work many times on The Fashion Orientalist. He brings fairytales to life with breath-taking gowns; he isn't afraid to try something new. You have a lot of designers who just do the same thing over and over again because it’s beautiful and it sells, but they never take risks or think outside of the box. Rami Kadi is a true artist in that sense; he experiments and I admire that.
A piece of life advice you'd like to give to all of your followers...
If you believe you can, it usually means you can - don't let anyone tell you differently.
What's your favourite current trend?
At the moment I am looking for items for the festive season, I might go for a velvet dress.
Who inspires you most?
Fashion-wise, Victoria Beckham. Whenever I need fashion inspiration I Google her. I love her style!
What's the best gift you've ever given, and the best you've ever received?
Love... I was quite materialistic when I was younger, but then certain life events made me realise I can't fix or cure everything with material things. Retail therapy is only a temporary solution. I do love buying gifts for the people I love though.