Award-winning fashion designer Farida Temraz talks about the breakaway success of Temraza Couture and what she’s done to become an international brand
written and photographed by Frank E. Bartscheck II
Farida Temraz, owner of Temraza Couture, is quickly becoming the most well-known fashion designer in Egypt. In late 2014 she had a triumphant turn at London Fashion week, where her couture collection was shown, and was later honored at Cairo Fashion Festival. But all of her success has not given her pause to relax: if anything, she is working even harder and has numerous achievements in 2015 to show for it. Since the beginning of the year, she has been interviewed by Al Ahram newspaper and on CBC satellite channel. Most recently, one of her dresses graced the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, worn by the international model Christina V who was attending the premier of the highly anticipated Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy. Temraz recently returned from France herself with more accolades in tow.
At Paris Fashion Week, Temraza Couture revealed its Autumn/Winter 2015-2016 collection, named ‘Once Upon a Paris.’ Excited but not satisfied with the success of her London Fashion Week experience, she quickly found new inspiration for the Paris collection.
Directly after the London show, Temraz flew through Paris and took three days off prior to arriving back to Cairo. While in Paris she went to Lido and Moulin Rouge cabaret shows. “I was so inspired by these shows and Paris as a whole that I created a collection based on this inspiration,” says Temraz.
She thinks of her design process as less systematic and more reliant on artistic progression. “I am not the type of designer who starts with the fabric selection, I am the designer who begins with the design first. I come up with something that creates harmony within all of the dresses, as they call it in advertising, the big unifying idea. I think of a big unifying idea that is over the top,” explains Temraz, showcasing an awareness of business not shared by most her age. She then integrates this big unifying idea a little bit differently in every single design for the collection. After finishing the design stage she commences a hunt for the perfect fabric. “It is truly a hunt,” says Temraz who shops for fabric all over the world and has even created her own here in Egypt. Once the fabric is selected, then\ comes the execution phase of the dress. “Every time in the execution process, I always add something that was not in the original design,” Temraz says, a hint of playful mischief in her voice.
The muse of Paris has proven fruitful. At only 23 years old, Temraz was “the youngest among these designers [at Paris Fashion Week], by at least 10 years,” says Temraz. The young Cairene exudes a youthful energy and talkative nature that belies her unending motivation to succeed in fashion. “It is such an honor to represent Egypt, I am truly blessed and grateful,” says Temraz, who was among 15 promising young designers selected to participate from around the world. A panel of judges, which included fashion experts from the U.S.A., presenters from Fashion TV, and Gregg Asher, the fashion designer who won the highly rated U.S. reality television show, Project Runway, selected Temraz as best designer. “It was my great honor and pleasure that I received the first-place award,” says Temraz.
Her collection had 12 pieces that went with her to the show, but only 10 made it to the runway. “I had 10 pieces on display. Originally, I had 12 pieces. However, at the press conference the day before the show, the presenter with Fashion TV UK saw my collection online and asked if she could wear one of my dresses at the press conference.” It was quite the compliment, and it didn’t end there. “Another one of the top organizers, Tiffany McCall, of Paris Fashion Week asked to wear one of the other dresses. I couldn’t say no,” says Temraz.
It turned out to be a great decision because both women were more than happy to let everyone know who designed the dresses they were wearing. “They were walking around telling everyone ‘we are wearing Temraza the Egyptian designer’ so I felt really excited, they are fashion icons, people ask them what they like to wear,” says Temraz with an unabashedly wide smile. “They deal with worldwide, high-end crème-de-la-crème brands and yet they asked me to wear one of my dresses. Actually, they asked me to keep the dresses. They liked them so much they wanted to keep them.”
Temraza recounts how during the show she would peek at the audience to gauge their response and noticed many in attendance stopped what they were doing when her designs graced the catwalk, “which is always a good sign,” she says. When the models got into the backstage changing room, they took out their phones andbegan taking pictures of themselves in her dresses, “another very good sign,” adds Temraz. One of the models even playfully refused to take the dress off. “She was so funny,” recalls Temraz.
All of the signs pointed to bigger things yet to come. After the conclusion of her show, Temraz left to grab some items from her hotel room. On her way back into the show she was greeted by a large audience leaving the venue, “you’re the Egyptian designer, they kept saying your name and you weren’t there, you took first place,” Temraz remembers. “All these people I don’t know and never met, can you imagine? I was shocked, I had no reaction, I was just shocked,” said Temraz. By the time she went to accept the award and take photos, much of the audience had already left, including the head judge Asher. And though she was quickly interviewed by FashionTV, she was devastated by the missed experience. But her spirits quickly picked up when the interviewer from FashionTV indicated that it created a buzz. “People were asking ‘who is this designer who does not show up for her award?” Temraz recounts.
It wasn’t long before numerous magazines began to enquire about shooting her collection and indicated their desire to come to Egypt for the shoot. Even though her collection was inspired by Paris and very European in style, “Once I arrived back in Egypt over 80 percent of the dresses from my Paris collection sold in a very short period of time, so Egyptians have a very European taste,” says Temraz.
Even with all the success, Temraz has not taken a break and continues to work diligently. “Sometimes I stay up until 6am or 7am just working on designs, that is why I have my showroom here in my home,” reveals Temraz. “One of my [goals] is to go international. I want to be one of the first Egyptian brands to be recognized internationally,” expresses Temraz. With Temraza Couture already carried by select stores in London, Amsterdam and Paris at Amytis Champs-Elysées, it’s clear Temraz is well on her way.