Reema Al Banna is the 31-year-old genius designer behind those gorgeous contemporary architectural pieces you have probably seen around, and the denim jacket made famous by Bella Hadid….yup that was her! Reema Al Banna, a Palestinian born and based in the UAE is the designer behind Reemami, an award winning contemporary label that has taken the world by storm.
Having received her big break after competing in a design-a-dress competition by Dubai-based concept store Sauce, Reemami was established in 2009 and has been known for its signature architectural cuts, playful concepts and hand illustrated graphics. Reemami catapulted into fame following their SS16 collection that was seen on style sirens such as Deena Al Juhani during Milan and Paris fashion weeks.
We sat down with Reema for an exclusive interview with one of the most exciting names to have emerged from the Middle East.
1 || Reema you have achieved so much in such little time, to what do you attribute your success?
My Parents, and my support system.. my loyal customers. They have been there from the very beginning; they inspire me and give me a daily energy boost and they simply made me who I am today. I’m so grateful and happy to have them in my life.
2 || Being a graphic designer originally, how and when did you realize that you wanted to enter the world of fashion? Was it an easy transition?
I loved and still love being a graphic designer, it was an amazing channel to expose my creativity and get my work out there. But at times it felt like it wasn’t enough. I felt like I was getting constrained by the bureaucracy of it, and I needed another source to express myself freely and without constraints, so I turned to my other passion,….. fashion!
Fashion is a staple in every girl’s life and I am no exception; I was obsessed with shopping, making my own clothes, and always looking for unique pieces. So while working as a graphic designer, I enrolled into night classes at Esmod and took up a two year program. I was learning design, pattern making, cutting, and everything needed to have a strong entry into the fashion world and to be able to pursue my dream.
3 || Being originally a Middle Eastern brand what efforts are needed to position your designs internationally?
By making sure I’m present at international fashion weeks, and having an international PR agency. By also making sure my brand caters for the international audience, as well as the Middle Eastern.
4 || Tell us about Reema the person…what inspires and motivates you? Where do you see your brand in the future?
My friends, my family, my team and the community I live in all play a big role in my life. I really hope that I could build Reemami into an empire one day, and to be the brand that’s on top of all fashionistas’ wish lists.
5 || Reemami is known for its “signature architectural and experimental cuts and playful concepts” can you elaborate on that?
I believe that I do have a mix of both casual and formal styles, I tend to create more casual pieces because they’re easier to wear…either out to dinner or to a friend’s gathering….I just love creating items that are easy to wear yet look and feel glamorous.
I also enjoy creating haute couture night gowns. My last collection included my flip couture dress which became a signature style that did make a wave in the fashion industry… being the first of its kind. Believe it or not, I started experimenting with the flip dress ever since my university days. Even though it seems a little unconventional but in fact it’s quite comfortable and a show-stopper for sure.
6 || Reemami dresses the bold, intelligent and stylish woman, who would you like to see wearing your designs?
There are many celebrities that I would enjoy dressing, among them is Solange Knowles and Rihanna. Her Majesty Queen Rania was at the top of my list and, thankfully.. it happened.
7 || Reemami has been widely recognized for its creativity as well as its fashion collaboration efforts through various nominations and awards, can you tell us more about that?
Thankfully, Reemami has been recognised by a lot of parties whether in the fashion industry or others. I was nominated in 2011 and 2012 as the best regional designer at one of the most important fashion awards in Dubai. And was crowned as “the Most Creative Designer” at a fashion show which consisted of 9 other regional designers. I was also thankful to get recognized by one of the most prestigious awards in the Middle East; the Vogue Fashion Prize which was judged by top tier judges such as Zuhair Murad, Roland Mouret and many more. It’s important to try and push the buttons and take risks and collaborate with other talents. It has been a great ride so far, had a lot of struggles and ups and downs,, but with the support and help of a lot of people Reemami is still progressing, and will be launching my next collection in September. I’m so happy and thankful.
8 || The UAE is such a diverse and exciting country to launch a brand from, can you tell us about that aspect of the design experience?
The Arab woman could be classified as the most elegant, romantic dresser, she loves beautiful things and is always willing to go an extra mile for that something special. I also believe that the Khaleeji woman is the queen of style, she’s not afraid to experiment with cuts and colors, and she always pulls it off modestly yet super elegantly. They are the perfect target audience for Reemami.
9 || What is next for Reema and Reemami?
Hopefully in the next 10 years, Reemami will be known globally, and will be accessible to all the glamorous fashionistas.
10 || What advice can you give the ladies about developing their own unique sense of style?
Trust your instincts; you are the best judge of your own outfits. Dress your shape, and when in doubt buy a bigger size rather than a smaller size. Stick to comfort then follow with style, when you look comfortable you carry yourself more gracefully and you will feel and look more glamorous!
Flaunt the best parts of your body, don’t show too much skin, try to have some sort of balance at all times.. Try to mix and match fabrics and textures. Experiment with hair and make up.
Don’t wear skirts that are too long which will end up swiping the floor! Don’t abandon your statement necklaces, as they are still big this season. Don’t match your shoes to your bag! Try to match styles not colors.