Couture of Elegance
Young designer Jehan Sultan has launched her first collection without much fanfare. In an age of hype and uber-publicised launches, this was quite an unusual way for a budding designer to announce her arrival. But then again, the essence of brand ‘Jehan Sultan’ would be lost if it were anything but simple and sophisticated.
Her designs, one would notice, are not for everyone, but for a clientele wishing to make a statement of elegance. “My designs aim at maintaining a one-piece-for-one-woman policy,” says the 21 year old Jehan, pointing out that in her maiden collection too, each piece is unique. “No two women will be seen wearing the same creation.”
This holds of great value in this part of the world where communities are smaller and where women love their fashion. “People have told me that they don’t like to see others wearing the same design they are,” says Jehan, who decided to keep her brand synonymous with a ‘one-off type couture’ for each customer rather than focusing on mass markets. “This brings uniqueness and luxury to the women who wear my designs.”
The designs of the petite fashion graduate from Manchester University are an embodiment of her personality. Growing up in a rich influence of two contrasting cultures - American and Omani - Jehan always knew that someday her creations would be inspired by elements from these.
“Ever since my high school I’ve tried expressing myself by combining these two cultures,” says Jehan. So naturally, in her designs, too she create clothes for a global audience, which are better described as “westernised outfits with a touch of Middle Eastern culture”.
The red carpet, where celebrities flaunt their dresses, has been a motivating factor for this designer, who some day wants her designs to be the talk of the town.
From the flowing silk gowns of the ‘70s and ‘80s era in Hollywood to Ralph & Russo’s haute couture to the bedouin embroideries of the Middle East - Jehan’s young mind studied a lot of trends before she decided to ‘arrive’ on the fashion scene.
Her design mantra, Jehan says, is hardwired to exude elegance and simplicity. “I want to focus on elegance that is unique. Sometimes, less is more. You don’t have to be decked up head to toe all the time. Sometimes, simple is more beautiful.”
This minimalistic approach is a break from the bling that is (mostly) associated with the Arab fashion industry and is also an idea that more and more people are opening up to. Jehan’s first collection sold more than she had expected, snapped up by women from all age groups.
Although the process of designing is standard, she says it’s a different thing to make clothes for real women of “all shapes and sizes”.
“You have to make clothes that flatter different body types.” Anything that does not flatter a person’s body type is an absolute fashion disaster, according to Jehan. With her maiden collection timed for Eid, Jehan wanted to “test the market”, and the learning was steep.
Although her aim is to become a global brand in the future, for now it is gaining a deeper understanding of the market. “I want to educate myself more before I go deeper into executing my line,” says Jehan.
Jehan already made an impact in the sultanate with her small collection. By choosing to launch her brand in Oman rather than in neighbouring Dubai, she has joined a new breed of Arab designers who are sending out global fashion statements from their homelands. Jehan believes a lot of young creative minds from Oman have it in them to make a name for themselves globally, as they study abroad, socialise with multicultural crowds and understand fashion on an international level.
“If you aim to be an international brand, then you have to widen your outreach and have an inclusive approach. You have to know people from other cultures and understand them in order to create for them,” says Jehan.