As an Haute Couture Designer, Creative Director, and CEO, Mena Hamoodi is a fashion industry leader. Mena took some time out from creating her pieces to talk to The Industry Leaders about how she got started in fashion and what inspires her work.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I was always determined to be part of couture, a re-defining culture that allows you to express and revolutionise modernity. I started very early in my career in fashion as my grandmother immersed me in the worlds of storytelling and poems that would inspire my designs and sketches for Haute Couture.
I had my internship with DVF whilst in Art school after I gathered all my designs and started knocking on luxury's doors! I was young and curious, and being in London helped before I came back to finish my studies in Manchester. At the same time, I returned to work, this time for the biggest names in luxury fashion; Tom Ford and Ralph & Russo, to name a couple.
I was always working, learning and travelling. I still am, and this allows me to be part of different realities that feed my dreams and imagination while creating my own luxury house, MH Mena.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I work through every creative and artistic point of the brand, from couture to ready-to-wear. This ensures the research, design and development of a collection for our clients here at MH Mena is truly seamless, as well as seasonal. Each design speaks within the attitudes of the times we live in through our brand's values and craftsmanship.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The research and designing for a client and watching their fairytale unfold when they try it on for their very last fitting, alongside the seamstresses. That cherished moment and smile we all share after the months of labour, care, love and creativity gone into a piece that is finally worn and brought to life- like magic.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
"Every dream starts with one small step at a time".
In my case, it's with one 5-inch stiletto heel at a time.
What, or who inspires you?
The beloved Princess Diana embraced the etiquette of dressing like a royal whilst setting her own fashion statements and rules. The sexy sequin blue dress she wore when dancing with John Travolta is my all-time favourite dress.
And, most importantly, both Madonna and my Mama, Soraya. Their empowered persona, daring sensuality and spirit of fashion inspires me every day to be courageous and have a sense of community towards people of all rich cultures. I tend to lose myself within my inspiration to produce work that I feel connected to.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Relevancy has become the new legacy — I value our empowered expressions of individual identities and let nature take its course from there. Everything that we see today has a tinge of history associated with it.
I research, study, communicate and network with all fields in this industry to grasp the full picture. This means learning the market's techniques, climate, consumers, politics, and market analysis provided by leading international consultancy groups. I then respond with creative solutions to today's problem to help lead the way to a beautiful tomorrow.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
If I had to choose one, I'd say it's the seasonal design review for the couture collection where I have to pick and choose what's in and what's out - it's a challenge because they're all so beautiful! But it has to be done. We're talking months of hard work with the chance of designs being discarded during the preview, simply due to the slightest flaw or cut of a silhouette not chiming with the rest.
I have had many great memories, but finally going solo and setting my dreams in motion by establishing a luxury haute couture brand, MH Mena, has been a dream come true. It enables the freedom to believe in yourself and provides the determination that can only be found when working as a CEO for your own brand.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Money comes and goes, but I would definitely put it towards creating a better world for the future in luxury, society, culture, ecology and the economy.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
It's important to be with those who love and support you, alongside sticking to the routines that you enjoy and add quality to your life. Mine favourite ways to switch off include yoga, reading, family time, a good book and drinking feel-good fruit smoothies.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That the education of sustainability to be processed in the supply chains of luxury brands and create original ideas towards more sustainable businesses.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
"Originals" by Adam Grant and "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast
How should people connect with you?
Please visit my website http://mhmena.com to find out more about what I do and book a consultation.
You can also request the current Lookbook here; https://mhmena.com/look-book/ to find inspiration for your next outfit.
You can also connect with me via Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mena-hamoodi-55320898/
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