A Qatar-based college grad and fashion designer has launched her first professional collection at a leading Doha department store after winning a prestigious residency there.
As a Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar student, Malia Bennett Henry’s graduation collection, which was titled Manic Depression, garnered her great praise by judges last year for showing “outstanding creativity.”
The now-22-year-old won two awards at the finals fashion show last May for the collection. One of the prizes was a tie-up with Salam Store in Qatar to create her debut collection as a professional clothing designer.
After an “intense” year, the women’s line of 10 distinct pieces has now gone on sale under the title Nervous Energy, at Salam in the Gate Mall.
Using materials including linen, silk and cotton, the shades-of-white range has been designed to be adaptable, fitting UK sizes 8 to 16.
Prices range from QR700 for a cropped top to around QR1,800 for an embellished kimono.
The collection also includes loose-fitting trousers, a mid-length skirt, a long-sleeved silk top, dresses and a kaftan.
Though the pieces are simple in design, they are accentuated with oversize silk bows, lace trim and zip details, Bennett Henry told Doha News.
“It’s flowy, feminine and in loose, adjustable styles which can be wrapped or tied around. You can change the shape depending on how you want to look.
These are all elegant pieces, which are suitable for women of any age.”
The designer admitted that this collection is a considerable departure from the “black, androgynous” look that she usually favors for herself.
“This the complete opposite to what I normally choose to wear. I did debate about doing a black collection, but Manic Depression was black,” she said, continuing:
“I wanted to move it on, to do something else. And I am starting to wear lighter colors now – especially white. I was really feeling that color at the time of designing the collection,” she said.
Bennett Henry worked with Salam’s marketing, PR and buying teams, discussing the development of the collection every couple of weeks and also working with graphic designers to create everything from the labels and tags on the clothes to the “look book” for it.
Both her graduation collection and this latest one have been influenced by turbulent times the designer experienced.
Bennett Henry added that she felt daunted by the challenge to create something new and different.
“It has been a long ride. It was pretty intense. There were a lot of expectations (of me), but it’s been a really interesting learning experience,” she added.
Travel and designing overseas is next on her agenda.
“There is so much I still need to learn. I want to open myself up to more, to different experiences – perhaps Vietnam, Tokyo, Cambodia, Seoul. There’s London and New York too,” Bennett Henry added.