Mira Maktabi – Sculpting Silhouettes

"My work serves as a way for women to take control of their narrative, move away from the Western stereotypes surrounding Arab women."

Mira Maktabi – Sculpting Silhouettes
Omaia Jallad

Lebanese designer Mira Maktabi (Instagram) is emerging as a dynamic force in fashion. Balancing tradition and avant-garde techniques, Maktabi’s artistry shines as she skillfully sculpts fabrics, embracing the female figure with elegance. Inspired by vintage allure, her designs unfold as a tactile exploration of silhouettes. Navigating the intricate terrain of female identity, Maktabi’s creations skillfully highlight the nuanced intersectionality of womanhood. Beyond their captivating aesthetics, her designs establish a conceptual foundation, infusing her creative practice with profound depth and meaning.

Take us back to when it all started; what is your earliest memory of fashion and how did that shape you?

I remember telling people I wanted to be a designer from the age of five or six, it was perceived as a cute, farfetched dream, some people said it doesn’t matter what I do with my career because anyways, a man would eventually provide for me.

The construction of vintage pieces inspires your work. Can you delve into how these influences manifest in your designs and the significance they hold for you?

My design approach consists of subverting polished ‘ladylike’ silhouettes to birth something new and powerful. I combine bias cuts and drapery reminiscent of the 30s and 40s, inspired by Madame Grs and Madeleine Vionnet, that delicately accentuate the female form, and juxtapose them with relaxed menswear silhouettes inspired by 80s Giorgio Armani. I take these references and re-imagine them in different materials and proportions to create a range of closet staples that can be transformed into an evening ensemble when styled with other pieces from the collection.


How does your approach to fashion serve as a means to showcase the intricate intersectionality within the experience of womanhood?

In my design process, I intuitively and organically drape and create on my body. I think about how women will walk and move in my garments, observing their subtle gestures. She isn’t too concerned with poise dictated by patriarchal and heteronormative norms of being a lady. She isn’t afraid to claim her space, slouch into her chair, or be outwardly funny. She doesn’t conform to a heteronormative standard in her behaviour and dress, and isn’t afraid to express her anger towards this.

My work serves as a way for women to take control of their narrative, to move away from the Western stereotypes surrounding Arab women, and create a space for women written by women, within a cultural and socio-religious context where this community is erased and stigmatised.

How has your education at the London College of Fashion influenced your design approach, and what key lessons have you gleaned from that experience?

I graduated from Fashion Design and Development at the London College of Fashion in 2021, my time there helped me approach fashion with a keen eye for construction and detail, allowing me to design with functionality and wearability in mind. At the end of the day, you need to design a viable, high quality product that will last in a woman’s wardrobe, and that can only be achieved when you consider all the elements of the making stage. I am now undergoing my MA in Fashion Womenswear at Central Saint Martins where I continue to explore my creative identity.


What challenges do you face when translating conceptual ideas into tangible garments, and how do you overcome them?

The main challenge is the pressure to continuously reinvent the wheel, especially in this age of social media where there is a high turnover of ideas, images and brands, and very short attention spans. I ground myself by taking a break from the internet, and returning to the collection, trying on every piece throughout the design process and ultimately find the answers when I simply evaluate how I feel wearing each look, and if I would actually wear it and why. I try to capture the attitude within subtle details in the pieces, I think my most successful pieces are when I drape intuitively without overthinking the outcome, and naturally you start to see the attitude and identity come through.

If you could give one piece of fashion advice to a younger Mira Maktabi, what would it be?
Be specific, confident and don’t overthink it. Trust your taste and familiarise yourself with everything that inspires you and everything that informs your design world. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to make something, the more you create, the clearer your communication will be. 

For more fashion stories from the region and the world, like that of Mira Maktabi, visit our dedicated archives.