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The Land of Eternity

December 4, 2019

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly The Land of Eternity

Bahraini fashion creator Ahad Rashid Fahad aims to educate, inspire and spread awareness about the kingdom’s rich culture and heritage by incorporating historical elements in her eclectic designs.

The 30-year-old management and marketing graduate from University of Bahrain, who also has a certificate in human resources, has always had a passion for fashion and art; sketching looks and dreaming of someday starting up her own line.

Instead, she went into the banking sector and kept fashion as a hobby. However, when she saw that she was able to make her desire to design as more than just a hobby, she focussed on it full time. She then started her journey in the nine-month Dilmun Star programme with Bahrain Fashion Incubator (BFI) where she received a certificate of fashion design.

BFI, established in 2016, was formed as an incubator and accelerator in the MENA region to provide creative professional solutions and services to fashion startups through hands-on practical training, mentorship, workshops, seminars and access to a network of resources and strategic partnerships.

Ahad, from Riffa, said: “Fashion is a platform for expression for me and I always follow up with trends. A person can express themselves through the clothing they wear, highlighting their identity and character. Hence, I wanted to combine my passion for art and my love for fashion to make each garment a work of art that tells a story…and not only something to wear. I believe that my passion in creating art in an unconventional way was the main driver for me to become a designer.

“I can make collections inspired by life events, beliefs or even elements that I see and bring me joy.

“After completing Dilmun Star programme, I felt that I had found my calling in life and decided to establish my own brand.”

Ahad’s fashion start-up brand LEO stands for Land of Eternity which she explains is what Bahrain was called during the Dilmun era. She has a line for men and women featuring semi-formal and formal blazers, dresses, trousers, skirts and bags. She is also currently developing an accessories line and sourcing collaborations with fine jewellery brands in Bahrain. Her focus is to add touches of her heritage to spread the word of Bahrain on a global scale.

“My collection is about the story of Gilgamesh when he came to Bahrain looking for eternity,” she said. “It started four years ago when I was searching for inspiration and started looking at heritage sights of Bahrain online. I was looking for something unique and not available in the market. That’s when I learned about the story of Gilgamesh. I felt connected to his struggles and the fact that he was searching for uniqueness and I was searching for that too for my brand. He was a powerful man who lost his friend and decided to search for immortality. He was told to travel to Dilmun and find the flower of eternity (pearls), but the myth says the snake ate it and he couldn’t get it. I want his story to be immortal through my designs.

“When I joined BFI, I was able to create a full collection based on that inspiration and I was able to incorporate elements of technology and sustainability in it as well. I wanted to come up with a name that Bahrain is known for even globally and since my inspiration comes from him, I named it Land of Eternity. When I get established and go international, I want people to know that this is a Bahraini fashion brand.”

Ahad used laser cutting technology for the fabrics and attached accessories that went with her theme. She also used 3D printing technology for the cuneiform writing letters on bags and accessories.

“The signature element that you will see in my clothing line and bags is the shape of Gilgamesh’s face apparent in the triangle cut as his nose,” Ahad explained. “When it comes to the jacket, the elements that will capture your eye first are the colours. I chose red as it represents love, since Gilgamesh had so much love for his friend and love for my friends and family is something very important to me. Gold represents royalty since Gilgamesh was a king. You will also notice that the other half of the jacket does not have embroidery. This is because Gilgamesh lost his other half and I wanted that to show that in the clothing. The embroidery features the symbol of a crown, pearls, Razi flower and Dilmun stamps. As far as my latest collection, I used cuneiform writing from Dilmun’s era. You will see the letters on the clothing spelling Bahrain in cuneiform. You will also see it 3D printed as jewellery.   “I love mixing up the elements of Bahraini heritage, modern technology, and sustainability all in a single piece that tells a story and reflects the past, present, and the future.”

Ahad’s daring designs caught the eye of former Ambassad- or of France to Bahrain, Cécile Longe during Dilmun Star’s Finale Gala dinner. The former ambassador took notice of her jacket and recognised the Gilgamesh print.

Ahad was delighted with the ambassador’s reaction that she happily designed a black version of it and bestowed it to her before she departed the kingdom.

“I was so happy and I felt that it was surreal,” said Ahad. “This encouraged me to take a step further and work harder to represent Bahrain’s heritage to the global market. I had a conversation with madame Cecile after I gave her the jacket and I felt the amount of appreciation and encouragement from her. Especially that she mentioned the jacket was one of the most beautiful presents she received during her time in Bahrain because it represented a story about the island’s heritage and was especially made for her.  “I want the world to know that Bahrainis are creative and have the skills to form innovative brands. My dream is to become a global brand that appeals to a wide group of audience.”

Ahad is currently working on expanding her lines to fit more tastes for different segments of people. She is also working on creating smart bags that combine technology and sustainability along with Bahraini heritage.

“I am developing prototypes for of a women’s hand bag that comes in three different sizes; appealing to different personalities and all boasting the signature triangle shape (heritage). One is trendy and easy to carry, the second is classy for the woman who is intrigued by creativity and modern style and the third is luxurious for those who like to be unique and own an item that is different than what is available in the market. All these bags are made of different types of leather.”

People can snap up her designs at BFI or through Instagram @LOE_bh.

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