Nahla Elalfy’s Journey from Engineering to the Runway

Monday January 9, 2017
By: Amany Zayed

15966232_1282980148407343_103148730108710468_nNahla Elalfy graduated as an engineer in 2002, but in an unusual career shift, she retired her degree to follow her passion of fashion design. A busy mother of two daughters, she anticipated the challenges facing her, but none the less she decided to pursue her dream.

Nahla’s perseverance, determination and optimism, attention to details and artistic vision were among many factors that brought Nahla Elalfy Designs to life.

Her vibrant and elegant Boho-chic 2016 summer collection was defiantly eye catching, and grabbed the attention of trendy women shopping in high end bazaars and major Cairo boutiques.

29e282d3-350d-432f-b9a8-13251cbf2c27Women Of Egypt:  How and why did you choose fashion design as a career?
Nahla Elalfy: It all started at home. Fashion business was a part of our lives. My mom imported clothes and sold them for as far as I can remember. She organized Open Days, and participated in bazaars. She did that for years until she finally opened her own boutique. Displaying clothes, pricing and tagging them and dealing with different clients introduced me to this world and made me curious to learn more about it.

WOE: When did you decide to start in fashion designing?
NA: After graduating from the faculty of Engineering in 2002, and spending four years in the job market, working as an engineer, in a news agency and on a USAID project, I decided it was time to make a career shift. In 2008 I started working at my mother’s boutique as an assistant store manager. After working in the boutique  for a while, I realized that fashion design is what I really wanted to do. A year later I signed up for my first fashion design course at the Fashion Design Center (FDC) where I learned the basics of drawing fashion sketches. I then joined the Art Square Academy, known as the best in Cairo in this field and studied there for two years (2011-2013). I took my studies very seriously as I wanted to learn all about fashion, from sketching to design theories, styling and designing. The theoretical part gave me confidence to start practicing but still I didn’t have enough courage to design my own clothing line.

15894615_1278378272200864_6526253475014076467_nWOE:  New designers launch their career with simple designs as a startup, why didn’t you do that?
NA: Simply, I wanted to do it the right way! Accordingly, I did some market research to learn more about needed labor and materials, cost and customer needs, and then I created the marketing plan which I believe is important for any start up.

WOE: Tell us more about Nahla Elalfy Designs Launch
NA: My first collection was like my baby coming out to life, I named it “Nahla Elalfy Designs,” drew the designs, scheduled a photo-shoot then contacted every possible magazine and store to show off my work! Thank God it was met with great acceptance and I released the full summer collection in summer 2015. The collection was targeting youth and women seeking trendy yet simple designs

15825753_1278378195534205_3341141983474265526_nWOE: How do you feel as a fashion designer when you see a stranger wearing your creations?
NA: This is simply my reward. When I see my designs paraded in front of me, I recall every little detail I have been through to accomplish this piece and bring it to life.
WOE: What makes Nahla Elalfy Designs stand out among what’s available in the Egyptian market?
NA: I design Boho-Chic styles for women. Boho-Chic is a vintage style that combines organic, colorful, detailed, folk-inspired pieces with simple, modern pieces. I picked this style because I believed in it, I saw that it refreshed the Egyptian fashion styles and took us to a new era. Talking specifically about my collections, I design asymmetric silhouettes with colorful materials and unusual prints.

WOE: What was the moment you felt most proud?
NA: In “City Centre Défilé” the first fashion show I participated in. I was overwhelmed with excitement, anxiety and happiness to finally reach the runway.I participated in another fashion show in summer 2016 as well but nothing is like the first time!
15823324_1278378242200867_4097803185853992167_nWOE: What is the latest project you accomplished?
NA: I have just finished a project that was quiet off track, designing and executing the swimsuits for Heliopolis synchronized swimming team. The experience was really different and the results were quiet rewarding, especially that the team won the championship.

15871769_1278378312200860_4116375820972054815_nWOE: How do you want your designs to influence the fashion industry in Egypt?
NA: I have noticed that Egyptian women have acquired a defined taste and style over the years.  I respect the classic styles, but I also believe that we need some renovation, some refreshment and creativity, but at the same time it has to meet people acceptance.

WOE: What do you do when you are not working?
NA: I spend time with my family, my daughters and my close friends. They are my backbone; they support me, inspire me and encourage me to move to the next step.
WOE: Tell us about your daughters and what are the most important things you want to teach them?
NA: I have two daughters, 10 years and 7 years old. They have extremely different characters and actually they do teach me lessons more than you can expect! I teach them to respect differences, to be confident and strong and never give up on their dreams
15826483_1278378402200851_5260484594318512103_nWOE: What are Nahla Elalfy’s  dreams?
NA: I am dreaming to participate in international fashion shows, go to Paris Fashion Week, to explore this world closely, and someday have my own fashion house.

Nahla Elalfy designs are sold in Apanage, Zagstore and the vintage boutique in Cairo and The Dollhouse in Alexandria.

For more about her Nahla Elalfy’s designs, visit her Facebook page

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