Dar Breesam is a famous design label owned by Amina al Jassim, a Saudi fashion designer who has made an impact not only in places like Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar, Lebanon, but also has dressed royalty and the likes of Princess Rania of Jordan and Queen Sophia of Spain. She has also designed for American singer actress Queen Latifa and countless famous Arabic actresses and singers. Her belief that “you can wear the colours of the season, the style of the season… you can get the traditions and principles right and still be fashionable” is reflected in all her glamour collections.

How did you become a fashion designer?

I was always interested in fashion and as I saw more and more women turning to western styles I realised the need to preserve our traditional past and heritage and to incorporate them into the changing fashions. I started to design for myself and also my friends, and as my designs became more popular, I was spending a lot of my free time designing outfits for friends. It was then I realised that maybe I can make my dream to become a fashion designer a reality. I was working at Aramco, the Saudi Oil Company from 1984 as a Systems Analyst but I left in 1990 to start up my own business.

What kind of support did you receive and how did you combine home life and work?

In Saudi Arabia it used to be difficult for a woman to go into business and I would not have been able to do it if not for the support I received from my husband. As I became busier with designing clothes for friends, I told my husband that it was my dream to open up a fashion business. He was very supportive, and if not for that I don’t think I would have been able to balance home life and work, because when one works for one’s own business you are never free, there’s always something to do. However I always make sure I spend as much time as I can with my family especially weekends, and holidays when we try and put work aside and concentrate on being together.

Did you study fashion or go to a fashion college?

I already had a family life so couldn’t leave to go to study fashion, therefore the best way for me was to study on my own, I read as many books as I could and learnt as I went along. I was already designing outfits and was very aware of colour and cuts and how to put pieces together.

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“Everyone buys from Chanel or Prada and everyone looks the same. We need an Islamic fashion house that is up there with the rest of them”

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