When did you realize you had designer potential?
I've always been creative and artistic. In my teens I was interested in acting and theatrical makeup and hair. Late teens I really got into fashion and styling and have always liked to dress uniquely and a bit left of center, thanks to my mum. My cousin saw my sketches when I finished my first degree in English and Drama and suggested I move to NYC to study fashion. I didn't know how to sew, but loved designing! I was hooked when I first used the scary machines at Parsons - they are fast!
What's your design training/schooling?
AAS in Fashion Design at Parsons. 2x summer courses at the London College of Fashion.
Strengths as a designer?
Creative and unique. I like to try new ideas and techniques. My sewing and pattern-making are both strong.
Weaknesses as a designer?
I am too much of a passionate artist/designer, and need to focus my designs with a customer in mind. I think this is where I have failed in the past. I don't have a strong enough vision of who I am designing for.
What have been your influences?
The theatrics and drama of the Ibiza clubbing scene. I LOVE to dress up! NYC club scene is also a great influence. I recently went to this ass-shaking party at Santos for Big Freida. So fun and crazy and everyone dressed all mad and colorful! The fun female rappers inspire me: Rae Rae, Nicki Minaj. Barbie and Jem and the Holograms - they are always in the back of my mind! Trailer trash, disco, the '80s...it's just in me!
What's playing on your iPod while you design?
Florence and the Machine`s "Shake It Out" is one of the best songs EVER! It is epic! Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash, Lily Allen, Mazzy Star, David Bowie.
Favorite material/fabric to work with?
Recently: Taffeta, organza. I love to work with jersey and knits and metallic twills.
Item you're most proud to have designed?
The circle top! It's my famous (soon-to-be) signature top!
Recently loving Brian Lichtenberg, Carly Ellis, Mother of London. I always love Patricia Field, get compared to Betsey Johnson a lot - think it's all the colors and tutus. Prada - big up for her after seeing that badass exhibition at the Met.
Sketch or drape?
Both, for various projects or do it together. I pattern-make, sketch, drape, play on the machine. If I feel I am getting too standard with my routine, I mix it up. I like to challenge myself.
Patterns or solids?
Pink, green, animal print (not a color, but should be!).
Biggest fear as a designer?
Failing! And not seeing Lady Gaga in my designs!
Something that sparkles. It'll bring any outfit to life and a smile to your face and anyone you pass by. Honest, it works.
Fashion faux pas that drives you crazy?
When people try to put together an outfit with all cheap fabrics and ripoff brands. Try and be unique!
Ugliest item of clothing/accessory you've worn?
In my eyes, ugly can be good when worn right. But, this bright orange terrycloth (yeah, it gets worse) vintage romper. It was too short for me. I wore it with a camel toe and all. The bright orange does not go with my skin tone. It was too small and tight. YES, a NATURAL DISASTER at its worst!
Favorite style icon?
Lady Gaga. Paula Yates was awesome and trashy at the same time. I love that look.
How would you dress Michelle Obama?
Toughie. I'd have to tone it down. I think I'd go for a halter dress to show off her lovely arms everyone loves! And a cropped jacket. I'd do an off-white or cream color, with a contrast lining in the skirt in deep pink/purple, which would go good with her tone. The skirt of the dress would be just above the knee, and with the small slit at the back you'd see the purple. I'd also use a purple top stitch for detail on the dress and jacket. A chiffon purple scarf included.
Dream celebrity client? What would you make for him/her?
Lady Gaga. Does everyone want to design for her? Is that like super lame of me to say? I think she is great. I actually dreamt last night I met her. She is daring and I wouldn`t need to worry about my design being too much. I think the question would be, "Is this enough?"
Favorite super model muse?
Alice Dellal. Love that hair! I love her edgy-punk vibe. She has a look that you can push. I think she could rock the "Buffi" look.
If you had to name your label, you`d call it...
It is called Quiet Riot Dubai, but I registered my line in NYC under "Naked Inc." I HATE THAT NAME NOW!
If you weren't designing, you'd be...
A hairdresser or shoe designer! I feel you can go crazy with either of those, and it's a safer option for people rather than fashion. Maybe this is what I should have done!
Any cultures/places you wish you could design for?
Costume. I love to be over-the-top and would love to design for Cirque du Soleil or at least see how they bring all those ideas to life. Amazing to me.
Dream place to set up your design business?
Want to be able to work half the year in NYC and half the year in Dubai, so I can help my mother and miss the winter months here, and then come back here, be inspired by my favorite city and sell in two amazing cities and two different markets. It would allow so many options as a designer.
List of websites featuring your work?
quietriotdubai.com, getnakednyc.com, weloveshag.com, etsy.com, senseoffashion.com
How were you described as a kid?
I was outgoing, friendly and confident. I loved growing up in Dubai, and me and my sister were super close. I was bullied when I went to boarding school at age 10, but I think I am tougher for it and it made me the unique person I am today.
How are you described now?
Loud, funny, life and soul of the party! Social butterfly (Mum always calls me that). Entertaining - get that a lot. MAD! For sure! Extreme - can be moody and dramatic. Caring, thoughtful, hardworking, dedicated. Hard on myself - don't know when to switch off. Um...broke!
Why are you easy or difficult to live with?
Easy to live with 'cause I've lived with SO MANY PEOPLE. Went to boarding school when I was 10 and shared a room with up to 6 girls. I travel a lot and am extremely adaptable to new situations. I am friendly and love talking and getting to know new people. I have always loved to try new things and have always loved meeting new people. Not so good to live with...can definitely be messy! But last few months got a lot better and make sure to at least keep shared space clean and tidy, if not my own.
Loaded question. I live in NYC! I looooove this city. SO MUCH. One spot is hard to choose. So: I love to wander, so am a huge fan of museums. The Met is stunning. Love brunches with friends, Bondi Road is always a good one. Soeun I a great macrobiotic restaurant in the city, and Blossom in Brooklyn is a great vegan hangout spot with yum food.
Gym classes! Love Zumba, cardio sculpt, spin, weights, any dance classes, barre burn, TRX, etc. Cooking, sewing, making gifts, creating mood boards, walking tours. Love what the city offers. Recently did a Garment District walking tour and the Highline walking tour.
Favorite films/TV shows?
Any comedy shows! "Wilfred," "Cougar Town," "Arrested Development," "Happy Endings," "Whites," "Spaced," "GCB," "Misfits," "Smash" - out-of-control amazing! I love musicals, "The Bachelorette" and "Project Runway" (duh!).
"The Secret" - I am pretty hardcore about sending out the right vibes and all that.
Free People blog - love all the DIY stuff on there. YouTube and Facebook.
Favorite tweeters to follow?
Lady Gaga, Vogue, papermag.com, Fashion Night Out and style.com.
iPhone, Android, or Blackberry?
Broke designer. Ghetto phone. None of these. Just old-school Nokia.
Fast food or gourmet?
NEVER FAST FOOD! Not gourmet either. Unique NYC! Like macrobiotic or vegan spots. Or fun, quirky sushi places.
Cooking or takeout?
Mexican! Love the flavors!
Beer or wine?
Not a big drinker anymore. Wine, though, if I had to choose.
My sister got my marzipan chocolates, but it is a rare thing. I do like chocolate now and then.
How'd you end up auditioning for PR?
I had the application in hand like 100 times! I wanted to do it for a million years and finally filled it all out this time.
Favorite PR designer?
Love that guy who does "Mad Fashion," though I never saw his episode. Love Mondo - he seemed like such a sweet, gentle guy.
Challenge you hope they bring back?
I love making things from random materials. I have won a couple of avant-garde competitions doing that, so the Pet Store project is right up my alley.
Challenge you hope they don't bring back?
A men's design challenge. I have never done men's. I am up for it, but that would freak me out a bit. Plus-size is a bit scary too. I've never done a design or made anything plus-size.
What's your take on team challenges?
I love the idea of collaborating. At school I always learned so much this way. So yeah, bring it. I'm a team player. I only worry that I might not bring my all to the table. Could be intimidating.
What do you look for in a model?
The vibe. She needs to be able to pull off the "Buffi" look - a bit edgy.
Do you think you can win PR?
I HOPE I WIN! I think I need to focus on my customer to nail the PRIZE! I could win because I am doing something different and fun and people notice my designs and style. As a designer I have always grabbed attention with my fun and quirky designs and prints and use of color. Nowadays people are taking a few more risks with how they dress. My overall collection might not be for everybody, but there is a piece in there for everyone.