Amina Al-Jassim: Covering Up Doesn’t Mean Can’t Show Off!

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Amina al-Jassim: one of the first Saudi female fashion designers.

Amina al-Jassim from Saudi Arabia is one of those designers who have made a name for herself by making designs that are modern in cut, yet pass the scrutiny of the conservatives.

“Modesty is not the opposite of fashion, and fashion is not about showing more of my body,” says Amina, the haute-couture abayas designer.

Amina al-Jassim graduated in Computer Science and Business Administration from the Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, USA. She started off her designing career in 1984 making designs for her retail store Dar Breesam. Gradually, with disciplined marketing strategy and dedication, she has gained reputation in Saudi and also in the Middle East and Europe.

‘Arab culture through fashion’ is Amina’s vision, and her mission is ‘to familiarize the international fashion industry with the spirit of Arabian Culture by designing clothes with a touch of Arabian and Eastern heritage’. She makes great efforts to strike a balance between old art and new technology.

She was on Lux Fashion Show in Beirut in 2003 and 2004, and was awarded the Best Arab Designer in Beirut in 2005. (Amina’s LinkedIn Profile)

Amina al-Jassim’s collections were on the first show of the opening day of the Sheila and Abaya Fashion event in Dubai Shopping Festival, 2008. Critics remarked Amina’s individuality was expressed through her innovative sheila, abaya and jellabiya designs that could be worn with ease and comfort. (source)

Amina’s designs are not just limited to Saudi or the Gulf; she has had her designs walk on the runways of international shows. At the Arabian Fashion Show, 6th April, 2009, held at the InterContinental Hotel in Park Lane, London, an even supported by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, and formally opened by A-BCC Secretary General & CEO Dr. Afnan al-Shuaiby, Amina was among the other famed Arab designers like Abed Mahfouz from Lebanon, Rabia Z from the UAE, Samira Haddouchi from Morocco and Oman Kashoura from Jordan.

Models for Amina Al Jassim’s collection at Muscat Fashion Week 2011.

An Omani, Ibtesam Al Rahbi, said Amina’s designs were unusual with metallic turbans and hats that reminded them of the traditional Turkish fezzes at the three day fashion show in Sultanate of Oman in 2011. Though Amina models walked the ramp mostly in black, they also wore dresses in different colours and cuts, exposing a bit of them here and there. (Middle East’s Fashion Week by Stephanie Dahle, 2/23/2011 on Forbes)

Amina al-Jassim

“Fashion is a performative utterance: to do things with clothes that exhibit and establish trends.” — quotes Anne Hedge, American musician. (source)

In an article on Alwan for the Arts website, an organisation promoting the diverse cultures of the Middle East in New York and three-state metropolitan area by conducting art and fashion events, Amina Al-Jassim of Saudi Arabia and Hana Sadiq of Iraq are cited as good examples that showcase how rarely we find a designer who projects ‘cross cultural epistemology’ on to local heritage, quoting Joseph Massad’s sartorial analysis in “Colonial Effects”. (Events; “Performance: Hana Sadiq: Fashion in Performance”; Nov 16, 2011 – source)

Amina has about three stores in Saudi Arabia, has her designs in some high-end boutiques across the Middle East. Her designs are so popular that she was invited to clothe contestants on “The Gulf Star”, an equivalent of American Idol, on Dubai TV. (source)

There have been very few international events involving Arab culture and fashion without Al-Jassim’s designs. Amina al-Jassim’s models grace the ramps at most of the Fashion Show Weekend Events organised by Saverah, an event company in London, which now creates networking opportunities for Muslim communities in the UK, with its Saverah Events, Saverah TV and Saverah Magazine.

In 2014, Amina got ‘The Best Designer 2014’ in Saudi Arabia. She has had fashion shows and exhibitions in Beirut, London, Madrid, Rome and Morocco.

Watch some of the designs by Amina at the Saverah Fashion Weekend at the Global Peace & Unity Event, Excel London: