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6Qs with Fashion Designer Shady Elias //

12.29.09
byMarwa Helal

A recent fashion design graduate of San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, Shady Elias is already working on his first collection for an Egyptian retailer due in time for next Spring. Born in Khartoum, Sudan and raised in Cairo, Egypt, he now calls San Francisco, CA home. He tells FEN why he chose fashion design and where he gets his inspiration:

STATS
Material to work with: Leather
Fashion Mags: British GQ, Men’s Health, VMan and WAD (We Are Different)
Outfit: Jeans, dress shirt, blazer, scarf and hat

Check out some of Shady’s designs in this video…

1. When did you decide fashion was your thing?
At the time I made the choice to pursue fashion, I was trying to choose between industrial design, architectural design and film direction. I chose fashion because designers have their own lines for various aspects of life: clothing, home, etc,. It’s also very visual, there’s a video format for shows, and an opportunity to write for magazines, so I felt it was the most sensible and all-encompassing choice.

2. Did anyone try to talk you out of pursuing fashion as a career?
Some people were encouraging, while others said, “you’re crazy,” or thought of me as a spoiled brat who didn’t know what he was doing. But my parents understood. It took a year to convince them, but education is very important to my father and that’s what won out in the end.

3. Where do you get your inspiration for design?
As any fashion designer or artist, you always have to find different inspirations and be in tune with a lot of different things.

There’s this pressure to create 2-4 collections per year, so you have to draw from a lot of places; it could be a movie, a song, a state of mind and whatever is linked to it.

I find certain artistic movements inspiring, such as art deco– it combines the modern and the old, the sleek and the ornate, a very good example of that is from Batman movies–the whole structure of Gotham city was based on art deco style.

4. Tell us what it takes to do this for a living.
Well if you are working freelance you get to work from home and set your own hours, and can take breaks whenever you want. But you have to be very disciplined to get the job done. You also have to have processes in place because nothing in design can be done overnight. Other times, you have to overcome being blocked. And you also have to account for checking your work.

My motto is to underpromise and overdeliver.

5. What’s the most intimidating thing about being in fashion and how do you overcome it?
Everyday is intimidating and challenging.

You always have to be on the lookout for what’s new because you’re expected to come out with a collection three times a year. And those collections have to be consistently successful, which is very tough.

That’s why a lot of people don’t make it in design.  I overcome this challenge by reinterpreting the wheel rather than reinventing it.

6.Which city has the best fashion?
Definitely not San Francisco. They’re too relaxed and can’t really plan because the weather is unpredictable. New Yorkers and the French have this avant-guarde approach that I really like, they aren’t mainstream with glimpses of great fashion. And London is great as well. They mix the crazy with traditional fashion. The key to good fashion is the willingness to take risks, while accentuating the good and hiding the bad. You have to be unafraid of experimentation and being unique.



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