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A new generation of fashion designers, led by Saya Zalel. Discover her latest projects and astonishing story to the peak of her field.

Born in the old capital of Kazakhstan, 3 years after the collapse from the Ussr, which resulted in the nation's independence, Saya Zalel became one of the most respected designers of her generation.

She was raised in a pretty interesting time, once the echo of the Soviet era was slowly fading, creating a complex cultural landscape : <>– says Saya

From music prodigy to fashion dreams

Before she became the established designer that they is, Saya Zalel had an unusual story that could inspire a film of their own !

As a young child, Saya was a violin prodigy and took part in multiple competitions held in Europe and her home country. She spent her whole childhood practicing violin from morning hours till late night, preparing for the next concert or competition.

But through the age of 16, she remarked that she didn't want to pursue this path like a musician, and desired to try herself in another creative field. And she chose fashion.

She began with the fundamentals, worked hard and learnt how to thread the needles ; then a step at a time, she discovered a brand new universe that she became enthusiastic about.

Learning and becoming the best

Her brother was studying in Edinburgh at that time, so she decided to move there to understand English, and used in the Herriot-Watt university branch in Dubai, where she prepared for her new dream : NYC. One of the greatest place to reach her full potential.

Saya Zalel was taken in the highly competitive MFA fashion design and Society program, where she challenged herself like a designer.

<>– says Saya

Her hard work and talent were soon remarked upon by her teachers and fashion professionals, and Saya was offered to showcase her experimental work on the New York Fashion Week in 2022.

Her work didn't go unnoticed, as well as in 2022, she showcased her whole collection at the New York Fashion Week, inspired by her culture's philosophy and traditional craft.

That's how her career became popular, and her work being showcased all over the world, from Ny to Paris, worn by celebrities such as Tiffany Young, Dani Miller (Surfbort), Kristina Tontery-young, Hanne Gaby, or Nanna from OF MONSTERS AND MEN-

Saya Zalel's signature and new projects

Saya Zalel's creative process is unique, : she doesn't sketch as most traditional designers do.

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As a textile-driven womenswear designer, Saya has a tendency to always begin with the vision of a textile becoming a garment and thru applying traditional tailoring techniques. Then, she construct the garment to suit the body through an intuitive design process where fabric manipulations inform the silhouette.

With such talent, singularity and recognition, Saya Zalel has been selected for that foremost Artist Residency Program, developed by Stonehenge NYC, whom she closely collaborates with.

<< I have been lucky to be selected as one of the winners for the Artist Residency Program. It is a one-year residency where artists can live rent-free in Manhattan and collaborate with the company throughout the year.

It's been helping me focus more on my creative work, and i'm happy that such initiatives do exist and make an effort to give artists community some time and space to create an incredible art! >>

Saya Zalel is currently focusing on her new collection, heavily influenced by her cultural heritage, incorporating upcycling and traditional craft. She intentions of collaborating with local artisans from her home country, and that we can't wait to find out her new work!

A post-pandemic view on the style scene

The pandemic brought a much-needed moment of stop and reset in the fashion industry.

We discussed with Saya Zalel about her view on the post-pandemic fashion scene and new inspiration.

<< Even though it seems like the fast-fashion is going back to a regular cycle, there are still some positive changes, I guess. More people are becoming aware of the harm that this industry is causing to the environment. As a result, there is a substantial growing interest in buying sustainable and vintage clothing, each of which is more eco-friendly than shopping seasonally.

In addition, more brands are opting out of traditional fashion weeks and seasonality and establishing their very own production calendars instead. I feel seasonality is definitely an outdated and unnecessary model that just causes overproduction and waste.

The direct-to-consumer model keeps growing super fast, and i believe it creates a chance for smaller brands or start-ups to connect with consumers, grow their brands, making their voices heard through online platforms.

I have been overwhelmed more than fashion for some time, and that i have reflected a lot and asking myself where I belong in the industry.

I decided to restrain and take my time before jumping to another project. There are so many brands and new names now, and the marketplace is hyper-saturated. I would not want to create a meaningless bit of clothing that will not satisfy the requirements and eventually end up in waste. My focus now is to make a garment considering its longevity, so I'm working more commercially in terms of my designs, creating functional but still exciting pieces. >>

Follow Saya Zalel : @sayazalel
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