This week, in our ongoing Creative London series, we meet Sabina Ali, founder of Sabina Motasem – a bridalwear label of fashion forward pieces, that combine classic glamour with modern lines.
Sabina moved to London during a ‘mass migration’ after university in the mid 90s, along with fellow ex-students, and has been here ever since, “London has become my spiritual home, I love it here I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” she says. “How long do you have to be here before you become a Londoner?”
No idea, but tell us more about you…
I’ve always loved fashion and was designing dresses since I was a little, sometimes even taking apart my clothes and turning them into new ones, much to my poor mother’s annoyance when she bought me clothes! I have had a pretty diverse journey which has led to what I do now, designing beautiful dresses for real women. Thanks to a background as a fashion designer and as a production manager on the high street, and then as a graphic designer for branding, design and marketing agencies, I suddenly realised that I had all the skills to set up my own label. I’ve never looked back since.
What are the tools of your trade?
A sketchbook, a note pad, a measuring tape and my beloved android mobile phone I take absolutely everywhere with me!!
For my last campaign I took inspiration from the world of ballet, bringing the elegance and graceful movement of a ballerina to bridalwear – it felt like the most natural choice to best showcase the fine Italian silks and the superior cut and drape of the dresses I am renown for. I fell into bridalwear entirely by chance, after designing dresses and showcasing during off schedule London Fashion Week. What started as a hobby, creating dresses as special gifts for friends eleven years ago, who were looking for simple and elegant wedding dresses, turned into a business!
What are you working on at the moment?
We will be launching fifteen new pieces in the new En Pointe collection of highly covetable gowns, alongside all our best-selling, much loved pieces such as Elsa, Josephine, Geneviève and Loie at this year’s White Gallery, the equivalent to London Fashion Week in the bridal industry. Our signature luxurious silk crepes will feature in all our dresses, and we are introducing fun laces for brides looking for something less traditional, in ethereal, boho and art nouveau inspired designs. We have dresses with sequins and crystals, and there’s a fashion forward style with pearls all over it as dress or as a bodice.
Our stockists and brides are asking for more alternative laces, and classic, modern shapes which can be easily customised to suit the bride’s own style, and more extra low super sexy backs! The label is about to be introduced into the US for the very first time at two of the most stylish bridal boutiques in Austin and New York. 2016 is going to be an interesting year.
The Josephine dress is one of my favourite dresses in the collection, a style that has been in in my collection ever since the label started 10 years ago. It’s evolved over the years with an extra low back, and has been on the black carpet at the first Twilight film première. The dresses have always been named after inspirationally iconic women, ever since the label began, and now it’s part of our ethos and branding. It’s like a fashionable homage to great, creative women who have influenced our society today in their artistic spheres.
Our brides love to hear the stories behind the dresses and how we came to design them. The Josephine dress is no different – it was inspired by the legendary Josephine Baker who used to dance at the Folie Bergere in Paris. An incredible woman who used to wear dresses like our Josephine in her day. Our current campaign features a real-life dancer named Kate Byrne, which was the most natural choice. An idea born during a fun creative brainstorming session with conceptual fashion photographer, Oliver Prout when searching for concepts from inspirations behind the dresses, inspired by a bygone age, combining combine classic glamour with modern lines. Read more about how this shoot came to be here.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
When we won the ‘Highly Commended’ award for Best Bridal Designer for London and the South East, at the Regional Wedding Industry Awards 2016 at Morden Hall in Surrey! I was thrilled to be nominated and recognised for our work and honoured to receive this special award, especially as it is my first time winning anything! The prestigious awards, now in its fifth year, recognises the quality and skill in bridal services around the UK. The awards are independent and voted for by brides as well as a panel of highly respected judges.
Who else do you admire in your industry?
Anything exciting in the pipeline?
We will be launching soft tulle skirts with modern lace bodices over a satin camisole this year, especially as brides like to change their outfit during their big day, and wear their dresses again. We are launching an exciting, innovative idea called Upcycle Your Dress, where brides have their special dress transformed into a chic style they can wear again. Around 70% of our brides are now asking for this, an idea born when I started the label 10 years ago, but it wasn’t the right time, it definitely seems like it is now!
Sabina’s Top 5 London
To Eat: Shanghai – they do the best dim sum in London town, bar none!
To Drink: Mussel Men – has a perfectly quiet little courtyard away from busy Dalston and seafood to die to die for
To Party: Passing Clouds – perfect place to get lost in Latina music and boogie the night away
To Walk: Walthamstow Marshes – a tranquil walk or run along the canal and the park away from the hustle and bustle of hipster-ville
To Shop: Broadway Market – for all sorts of amazing finds!
Check out www.sabinamotasem.com for more dresses, inspiration from real brides, and stockists.
Main Photo: Rebecca Portsmouth
Campaign Photos: Oliver Prout