Yassmin Saleh – The Art of Expression

Yassmin Saleh tells a story with every stitch, every colour as she creates wearable art.

Yassmin Saleh – The Art of Expression
Omaia Jallad

A love of design led Beirut-born, Abu Dhabi raised, creative Yassmin Saleh (Instagram) to pursue her education at Milan’s Istituto Marangoni and with Elie Saab and UAL: London College of Fashion where she won the Jury Prize in 2015 and earned the Prize of Excellency in Craftsmanship in 2017 for her collection ‘The Dance of the Psyche.’ In 2018, she launched her brand through the Starch foundation program and teamed up with her sister, Farah, who after working with Christian Dior and Christian Louboutin, came in to run the business side of the operation.

What are your earliest memories of fashion, and what inspired you to pursue a career in the industry?
Going into my parents’ closet to wear my dad’s suits and my mum’s preppy shoes and bags. I think I always saw fashion as a means to express myself so it felt almost natural to pursue this industry, because it feels like home.

Can you discuss the creative process behind designing a collection and how you incorporate your unique vision into wearable art?
Every collection has a story and behind each piece there’s a reason for its choice of colour, fabric manipulation or stitching detail. Within the collection, we translate the intangible through fabric manipulation, from creating our own flowers, to eco-printing to embroidery.

Yassmin Saleh

Given that your designs are often described as ‘wearable art,’ could you pinpoint which art movement serves as the most significant inspiration for your work?

It usually depends on the collection’s story but I would say expressionism, art nouveau, and the arts and crafts movement.

What are some cultural influences that have made their way into your collections, and how do you balance global and local elements?Human behaviour influences us. The way people react, adapt to, and interact with socio/political situations form our cultures. This is the root of every collection and I believe that humans go through different wavelengths, and sometimes they meet, which creates a balance between the global and local human behaviour. This is how we stay relevant.

Storytelling is crucial in the fashion industry. What is the story you hope your brand tells and what emotions do you want it to evoke in customers?

Growing up, I struggled to express my emotions and saw my closest struggle with mental health issues. Yassmin Saleh is my safe space that I use as an empty canvas onwhich I share my stories and experiences and give myself freedom to be vulnerable. Those feelings are then translated into craftsmanship techniques, colours, and textures. We want our stories to resonate with our clientele and make them feel like they are heard. We also would like to invite them to be part of the conversation. Launching Yassmin Saleh is about raising awareness of the importance of mental health.

Yassmin Saleh

If you could dress a historical figure in your designs, who would it be, and what would they wear?
Definitely Fairuz wearing a custom hand embroidered Tattoo Gown.

If you were to create a signature scent to represent your brand, what would it smell like, and what would you name it?
It would smell like jasmine, gardenia and a subtle hit of sandalwood and palo santo – I would call it “Sukoon”.

What is a fashion trend from your childhood that you secretly hope makes a comeback?
Jeans and ballerinas.

Yassmin Saleh

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