Why AAVVA two are a Fashion do!
City Times spoke to contemporary fashion designers Vincenzo Visciglia and Ahmad Ammar on how their brand is offering affordable couture and free-spirited luxury fashion in Dubai
I'm sure you all know how we feel about Dubai based brands by now. We love them. In fact, we pride ourselves in making it our mission to tell all of our fashion conscious readers which up and coming brands, which established and prize winning brands and which under ground soon to be huge brands you should know about.
So when we came across AAVVA we couldnt help but do a double take. Here was a Dubai based brand that was contemporary, current, easy to wear, stylish, international but also regional and chic. Founded in Dubai in 2011, the brand was envisioned by designing duo Ahmad Ammar and Vincenzo Visciglia. These boys have been hard at work over the last year and the fruits of their labour are making us feel all kinds of fashion goosebumps.
City Times managed to catch up with the designers to discuss everything about their work from the inspiration behind their styled silhouettes, how they work together and growing a brand in Dubai.
When did each of you start designing?
Vincenzo: I studied Interior Design at the International Fine Arts in Miami followed by Architecture at the FIU. I have always been keen on my love for creating, exploring and developing what inspired me from a young age. I previously worked as Creative Director for Pappa Roti and also also Creative Director at BrandNoise Branding and also Architect Partner at BrandNoise Architecture.
Ahmad: I am a civil engineer but I also studied fashion. I work on engineering projects but run AAVVA simultaneously. I enjoy the design that I share between both things I do, and I believe that counts. Love what you do. I remember I started designing when I was 8 years old; I would wait for everyone to sleep at home and then would spend the night designing dresses. I loved to sketch out pieces from a very young age..
When and how did you meet? And how did you decide to create AAVVA?
Vincenzo: We met in 2011, while working on the same project in Dubai. That project was in our field of engineering. Soon we realised that we both had a vision when it came to fashion. And we decided to start our own fashion line, AAVVA. We both were attracted to fashion; it was either the creativity or just the sheer love for art. Upon meeting in Dubai, we strongly felt that we could do something in the field of fashion. In 2011, AAVVA was launched.
Ahmad: We wanted to express our vision and background as engineers while portraying our love for fashion, art and style. We wanted to be able to bring out the best using the mix incorporated with our background as engineers.
What is the creative process like when there are two of you working? Does your initial vision change based on your discussions? Do you clash on anything?
Vincenzo: Once we are inspired for a particular range, we start right away. We start with research and brainstorming as to how we can better the image in our minds when we bring it alive in a dress. It's all lovely from start to end! We all hear about amazing Brazilian fabrics and given my roots, I tend to pick up any ideas on the fabric that may be required and set about into finding the perfect one, while Ahmad would work towards the cuts and styles and focusing on the theme and needs of our audience. But it could also be vice versa, eventually it all depends on the design and idea.
Ahmad: We like to integrate and work together. We are grateful for the amazing team that we have. It almost comes naturally now, the way we use our ideas and designs to work together.
What are each of your strengths as designers?
Vincenzo: Yes we do design our ranges equally but Ahmad takes care more of the high end and couture part and I take care of the ready to wear. But it's not like we have a process of dividing tasks. It is totally spontaneous and as per the need of idea or design. Our strength truly lies in our cultural diversity and our love for other cultures.
Ahmad: I agree. Although I have to say Vincenzo has a great artistic ability, he is great with interior and aesthetic too. It's almost as if we can visualize colors, textures and space, as well as the audience we design for. I am more into the attention to detail, the luxury, the material and taking proper care of the quality. I think as a designer this is also important for me, as I listen to my audience and I consider it and value their opinion. This is something that I am happy about, with myself.
What issues did you face as designers here in the UAE?
Vincenzo: Dubai is the wonderful city that inspires us as architects, that lets us admire the beauty of everything around. The city works very well for home grown designers and is a creative hub. However, business in itself is different. We design, we create and we know our parts well but to set it up as a business is different. Surely the toughest part was to put our brand in the market. But there are quite a few, despite which we always have to keep moving.
Ahmad: We create, we are inspired and we perceive. But we are never sure what our audience will accept or not. We always think that a particular design will be loved and will complement our audience.
Can you tell me about the name of your brand name AAVVA? How did you come up with it?
Vincenzo: Well I am Vincenzo Visciglia and he is Ahmad Ammar. To us AAVVA is like our passion and it's come so far. We are proud of it and we want to build more.
Ahmad: That's all we knew when we thought about starting something. We both were attracted to fashion; it was either the creativity or just the sheer love for art. Upon meeting in Dubai, we strongly felt that we could do something in the field of Fashion especially in a multicultural city like Dubai. In 2011, AAVVA was launched.
Describe the AAVVA aesthetic.
Ahmad: Great design is more than calculations and statistics. It is something that is loved and accepted by the people you create it for. I believe design is something that differs from person to person and as mentioned our cultural blend just works for us when it comes to inspirations. The historic city of Beirut, the fabrics in Brazil, the scenic nature in Brazil, the sunshine in Dubai. Fashion recognises the power that it has and we also understand the kind of confidence it can create. We design for women and we try and put our understanding and full attention towards it.
Vincenzo: We are very upfront about our designs, we take influence from architectural, volumes and silhouette and also we do ethnic designs. We believe in the right dress for the right person and we design keeping in mind and aiming to make our dresses for all women.
Who is the person who wears AAVVA? Or who do you design for?
Vincenzo: The woman of today - women are our role models when it comes to fashion. We create for women who wear the pieces with fierce confidence; and we believe they are our biggest critic and inspiration.
Ahmad: Fashion is so much more than just a look, an outfit. We take inspiration from our customers who visit us regularly and motivate us. It is about diversity and creating something new and different, people usually love it.
What would you say are your major aesthetic or cultural influences?
Ahmad: As far culture is concerned, we are always influenced by the architecture in Lebanon, the cities of Beirut and Sidon, that were especially built in the Italian style. From the historic houses that are now a major monument to the ambience on the streets, it is always a reason to get inspired. We even get inspired by the famous Lebanese cuisine! We recently used the names of famous dishes in a chic, trendy style in our street wear range. Brazil is also always a source of inspiration. From Fabrics to the scenic beauty of the country, there is so much rich history hooked to the place that it's hard to let go of how much it has to offer.
Vincenzo: Every person has a different relation to art and aesthetic. For us, we believe art is the beautiful expression of how you perceive anything. It's about your understanding and then presenting it. We take pride in our cultural diversity and make the best out of it. Of course Dubai has played a huge role in our formation. We ensure that we are bringing the architecture in each collection. This is something that you will always see in AAVVA, the combination of clean geometry, architectural cuts, symmetry and the artistic combination of color.
Tell us about presenting in the latest edition of Altaroma - Rome Fashion Week. How was that experience?
Ahmad: Altaroma, an international meeting point for tradition, research and cutting-edge techniques where art, fashion and culture combine to bring something spectacular. We represented our innovative, unique fashion in the 'Fashion from the World' segment; taking forward UAE's legacy of determination, passion and sheer hard work. What could be a better start internationally?!
Vincenzo: It was truly an amazing experience! We are so proud to have represented this amazing country with our first international fashion show.
Tell us about your street-wear collection inspired by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. We loved this collection. Why did you choose Frida Kahlo as your muse?
Ahmad: The inspiration arose from five of the most beautiful paintings of Frida Kahlo that gave shape and form to the beautiful collection. We were both so struck by the pain combined with her art.
Vincenzo: She is a feminist artist who is known to date for her bravery, her love for expression and art. We were really touched by her story. She was strong enough to fearlessly express herself, using fashion. We love and are so aware of her raw beauty and expression, creating something bold and unique for our women of today.
In your opinions, what is the difference between style and fashion?
Ahmad: The world of fashion has a long and varied history. Trends or even fashion change on a seasonal basis and often reflect the overall sentiment of culture at one time.
Vincenzo: We love culture. And fashion too! I'd say that our creations are often influenced by inspirations we get from trends in color, and trends in fabric. Style is something that is constant almost like a theme, a tone to people. Style is something that reflects in everything you do, you wear. We both believe that although fashion is great, blindly following something is never a good idea. Work with what you have an always show a bit of yourself in everything!
Who are your constant muses? Or do you have a different inspiration per collection?
Vincenzo: We believe inspiration is all around. It's about your perception of everything around you - nature, art, buildings everything can be inspiration. We do get inspired by a lot of people, a lot of strong women who have created history and yes, we do design every collection based on a different inspiration that revolves around the basic AAVVA theme.
Ahmad: We do have a lot of great women in mind that do inspire us, but at this stage, we would like to keep it as a surprise!
Who were some of the designers that have influenced your style?
Ahmad: We often get asked this question and we really don't have one designer to name. Sometimes, we get inspired by designers from 20 years ago; sometimes we love a design from one of the fashion shows happening now!
Vincenzo: This is true. We even get inspired by buildings and their structures. Saying so, growing up I was inspired by a lot of designers not necessarily big and famous but everyone who perceives art to create fashion. We believe that everyone has something to teach and we are ready to keep learning and getting inspired.
What are your plans for the next year?
Ahmad: We are working towards launching a men's collection and mother and daughter collection, we hope this is already happening soon, towards the end of this year.
Vincenzo: We are also working on international fashion platforms. We want to be prepared for the Paris Fashion Week and we will display also a Privé collection the same way we did in Altaroma. For AAVVA, as a brand, we want to focus more on street wear too, bringing in more for our audience.
Where would you like to see AAVVA in the next 5 years?
Vincenzo: To have it across countries and definitely have the whole brand available everywhere else. We want to make sure all our customers have access to the items easily.
Ahmad: UAE was always our source of power to start and grow all that we had. Obviously, we are constantly aware of the progress that is being made all around and we are lucky to grow and progress together with Dubai. We believe in more to come our way soon! Stay tuned for more from AAVVA!!