Pack your bags, Grazia girls: Jeddah-born designer Arwa Al Banawi’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection wants to take you on an adventure. Named Ala Safar – which is a colloquial Arabic expression meaning ‘I’m travelling’ – it makes a strong statement about the role travel plays in female independence, especially in the light of the changes in women’s rights in her homeland of Saudi Arabia. And it’s all in an Andy Warhol-influenced palette of Campbell’s soup-tin reds, and turquoises and lilacs that wouldn’t look out of place on portraits of Liz Taylor or Marilyn Monroe.
“The collection is all about movement, ease, comfort and confidence, and has this sense of liberation,” Arwa tells Grazia, of the designs that includes her signature boxy tailoring, louche wide-leg trousers, and the debut of eveningwear – dressed down with trainers, naturally – a first for Arwa after a custom design for Egyptian-Italian model Elisa Sednaoui for last year’s red carpet at El Gouna Film Festival caused a style stampede in orders among her regular clientele.
“How do I make her life easier?” is the question Arwa constantly asks herself when creating a collection. For SS20 – to a soundtrack of deep house and hip-hop – the answer was manifested in a lightweight athleisure abaya, borne from frustration about her traditional styles creasing on the plane; and a Bianca Jagger-inspired satin bridal gown styled with a tux jacket and carrying a Mercedez-Benz duffle bag to represent a bride on the go that doesn’t want “to look like a cupcake.” Or one that might make a quick getaway.
Photos: Andy Warhol and supplied