Armed with a thirst for knowledge, an innate talent for design, and an ambition to create an imprint on the region’s fashion scene, Beirut-based Lebanese fashion designer Bashar Assaf never takes a moment for granted. The Elle Style Awards nominee was once a curious student of fashion design and like most successful designers, experienced countless challenges when the time came to launch his fashion line. As part of Studio Nuqat’s creative education modules, Bashar decided to impart his knowledge on a group of aspiring individuals with a passion for fashion right here in Kuwait through the fashion design module entitled “Tasmeem”.
According to Bashar, the region’s fashion industry is coming of age, and that the demand for creative education will continue to rise. He said, “We are starting to see more appreciation for new and interesting designers. The Western media is also paying more attention to local talent and is providing us with more coverage and awareness. It’s only going to get better from here!” With Studio Nuqat’s Tasmeem module, the designer shared his experiences and how his work has evolved since he embarked on his fashion design journey. Growing up in Saudi Arabia, where women’s garments tend to lack definition, he looked to create clothes that celebrated the female form with sophisticated yet demure silhouettes. Bashar pursued his studies at the Esmod institute in Beirut, and worked as a designer and stylist in both the advertising and entertainment industries in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia before he launched his now highly celebrated brand with several showcases at Dubai’s Fashion Forward event.
Through the Tasmeem workshop, Bashar worked alongside participants to help them gain a better understanding of the industry from actually sketching designs, to the business predicaments of running a fashion brand like buying, pricing, retailing and predicting consumer demand. His second time teaching, Bashar considered the workshop a great experience. The student became the teacher in his case, and Bashar believes that education is a two-way street. He said, “With Tasmeem, I experienced that exchange. Through the participants’ curiosity and questions, I revisited many of the concepts and technicalities that I learned in design school which was both fun and interesting to me personally. The workshop was a great experience. The participants were very eager to learn and the energy in the room was a very relaxed and positive one, which I enjoyed a lot.
Prior to his visit to Kuwait, Bashar admired the local creative and fashion scene from afar. He said, “I believe that Kuwaitis are one of the best dressed populations in the region and are not afraid to venture into new territory when it comes to personal style.” However, many people could be quick to assume that since they’ve got a creative eye for fashion, then starting a brand could be easily achieved. Bashar ensured that the Tasmeem participants understood the difference, “It definitely takes a lot of talent to enter the business. When that talent is polished and cultivated through studying fashion design, it’s a recipe for success. The most challenging moments for any student of fashion design must be the decisions that would have to be made after graduation. Should I start on my own? Should I work for another designer? A lot of students don’t realize the amount of work it takes to succeed.”
Delivering these realities to anyone interested in the industry, while still inspiring the Tasmeem partipicants, was paramount. For local fashion consultant, personal stylist and Nuqat volunteer Khaled Zawawi, Bashar’s portrayal of these realities truly distinguished the Tasmeem workshop from others. He said, “Bashar was extremely professional, and the workshop well-conducted and structured. The workshop in general was about the reality of fashion design and how much work you should put into your collection for you to be successful in the fashion world as a designer. The majority in our region don’t know how tough the fashion industry is, so I think the workshop gave the participants a glimpse into that world and showed them how to start their own collection design-wise.”
Through his successful collection launches, and participating in creative initiatives like Tasmeem with Studio Nuqat, Bashar proves that his hard work has paid off. Still, he’s constantly learning from both recognition and criticism alike. Not only is he focused on his nomination for the International Woolmark Prize, but Bashar is also working on his upcoming SS17 collection that will feature a collaboration with a visual artist. Leaving us with a mysterious hint, Bashar concluded that the collaborative collection will arrive as a tribute to one of his favorite icons of all time.