Emirati fashion designer says new collection for Ramadan represents 'renewal and transformation'

Amna Mohammad Karmostaji has been creating exquisite abayas for women through her homegrown brand since 2015

by Enid Grace Parker

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Published: Mon 27 Mar 2023, 2:06 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Mar 2023, 2:15 PM

Visionary Emirati entrepreneur and fashion enthusiast Amna Mohammad Karmostaji, who has just launched a new collection for Ramadan titled ‘Blossom’ as part of her fashion brand Elna Line, says her interest in fashion and design arose at a young age.

In a conversation with City Times, Amna revealed that dressing up with her sisters “has always been a fun experience.” Established in 2015, Amna’s brand creates exquisite abayas that blend modest designs with luxury and sophistication. Amna who started the brand as a result of not being able to find suitably elegant and fashionable modest-style clothing, feels the growth of modest fashion was inevitable as women from all over the world are increasingly looking to blend comfort with grace and confidence. A global perspective gained from her passion to travel and explore new countries and cities also shaped her fashion vision.

Amna’s latest collection ‘Blossom’ embodies renewal and transformation, marking a shift of seasons and the desire to start afresh.

We chatted with Amna about her memories of Ramadan, the growing popularity of modest fashion, the perks of being a female entrepreneur in the UAE and more.

What were some of the inspirations behind your ‘Blossom’ line for Ramadan 2023?

As the seasons shift, we too transform with it. Our newest collection, Blossom, marks the beginning of a fresh start. It represents renewal and transformation, a beautiful celebration of the innate beauty within every woman. Blossom is a delicate dream, with soft aesthetics, inventive drapes, and voluminous silhouettes that embody the lightness, femininity, and rejuvenation of spring.

A design from the 'Blossom' collection
A design from the 'Blossom' collection

It's a tribute to the blooming flowers of spring that inspire us to embrace change and flourish. Our assortment of designs embodies renewal and serves as a suitable source of inspiration to start fresh and embrace the beauty and fashion of spring.

Tell us about your early memories of Ramadan in UAE spent with family. During this period, when people tend to visit family and friends in the evenings, do clothes/fashion take on a new significance?

Having a large family is a blessing, and dressing up with my sisters has always been a fun experience for me. During Ramadan, people tend to put more effort into their attire for the various gatherings and events that take place, making it a special time of the year.

Modest fashion is gradually drawing multi-cultural customers. What do you think are the reasons behind this surge in popularity of this kind of clothing?

The essence of modest fashion lies in grace, confidence, and, most importantly, comfort. As female empowerment continues to gain momentum, I believe it has been a significant driving force behind this trend. Modest dressing imbues women with an understated air of elegant grace, regardless of where they are headed.

The 'Blossom' collection is a celebration of the innate beauty of every woman
The 'Blossom' collection is a celebration of the innate beauty of every woman

When did your interest in fashion and design begin?

Fashion has always been a passion of mine, ever since my childhood when I used to watch my mother and aunts get dressed with admiration. I observed how they carefully layered their clothing, accessories, shoes, and finally applied perfume, which exuded an air of elegance. It was through fashion that I learned how one's creativity and world views can be expressed.

What were some of the challenges and rewards of starting a homegrown Emirati fashion brand?

Through my experience, I've come to learn that challenges are inevitable on the path to success. Elna Line was established long before the social media boom, allowing us to connect with our audience in a genuine and authentic way, thus creating an organic following. However, being in a small market like the UAE, it's a constant challenge to maintain exclusivity in our designs, as there are many imitators who copy our brand as soon as new collections are released.

Nevertheless, we take this as a positive sign, indicating that we must be doing something right if people are copying us. It brings me great joy to see so many women adorned in our designs, radiating confidence, attitude, and modesty. Seeing them in our new collections and signature designs in malls and cafes is an incredible feeling. The UAE has a fantastic working culture, which fosters women's growth and development, and I love being part of it.

What are some of the popular materials and embellishments used in modern-day abayas?

As our designs usually incorporate layering and draping, we tend to work with crepe, chiffon, and soft, flowing linen materials. Our embellishments comprise a blend of beads, sequins, stones, and other materials that we use to craft timeless and distinctive motifs.

Amna believes modest dressing imbues women with an understated air of elegant grace
Amna believes modest dressing imbues women with an understated air of elegant grace

Take us through the process of designing and creating a particular outfit. How long does it take?

Responding to this question isn't always straightforward. Sometimes ideas come to me easily, while other times, I face creative blocks. To help overcome these blocks, I often visit fabric markets and explore the various colours, textures, and new weaves. After gaining inspiration, I visualise how the fabrics will fall and drape on the body.

I then pin the fabrics on the mannequin until I'm satisfied with the basic silhouette. Once I've established the structure, I move on to the next step, which involves selecting trims and embroidery. Occasionally, I work in reverse by first creating hand embroidery motifs and then designing the silhouette of the abaya or dress around that particular theme or mood.

Who are some of the international designers you admire?

Chanel and Miu Miu.

As an Emirati female entrepreneur, how has the UAE supported your dreams and vision?

The UAE has been a hub for talented entrepreneurs and start-ups from across the globe. The success stories extend beyond locals and include a diverse community of enterprising expats. As a woman, I've felt tremendous support from both society and the government to pursue independence and excel in any field of my choosing.

This encouragement to follow my dreams and the belief that nothing is impossible has been empowering. The UAE's talent pool is incredibly dynamic and innovative, which enables individuals to flourish in the ever-evolving fashion industry.

Enid Grace Parker

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