At Bazza Alzouman, a considered approach to colour and composition creates enviably frothy pieces that are as functional as they are fabulous
“I’d never really used tulle before,” says Kuwait-based fashion designer Bazza Alzouman. “In the past, most of my collections had been about luxurious fabrics, sleek cuts and clean silhouettes.”
It’s late March in Dubai, and we’re approaching an almost deserted beach, watching as photographer Mila Namida captures one striking shot after the next of Alzouman’s spring/ summer 20 collection. A dusky grey gown – or depending on the light, blush – moves perfectly to the rhythm of model Sabrina Mello’s steps, seamlessly swishing from side to side while cascades of pleated tulle dance with the dipping afternoon light.
“I wanted to explore the Bazza Alzouman aesthetic but with a different medium,” she says. “I was really in love with this grey tulle and so I wanted to ensure that we didn’t change its transparency by using the wrong lining. At times I also like to add a little edge if I feel a piece is overtly feminine, so here we used more of a sporty neckline to balance out the fullness and formality of the gown.”
This was just days before the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated, and the region found itself in lockdown. As a result, the collection patiently waits for the world to once again indulge in occasionwear. We touch base for a second time in mid April, and Alzouman longs to return to her atelier.
“I now appreciate what I do more than ever. I’m reminded how much I really love my work, and how passionate I am about it – I can’t wait to get back into my studio,” she says. The brand works out of Kuwait where, during normal months, Bazza Alzouman sources her fabrics locally and develops all samples in-house.
“I think the conversation in the fashion industry has really changed – there’s so much talk about consumerism and fast fashion. It’s important to be aware of the shifts happening, but also to have your own vision and ethical codes.”
Since the brand’s conception in 2014, Alzouman has pushed ahead of the curve by focusing on controlled designs that transcend seasons. “Many of my clients wear their gowns year after year. Especially considering that I work in occasionwear, which is not something that is worn often – it’s important that the piece can be reused,” she states of the women who return to her time and again – including Maya Diab, Mai Omar and Huda Kuttan, who have all worn her designs on the red carpet.
“Sometimes exciting fashion is confined to couture, and the more practical side to ready-to-wear. I believe in making the latter as dreamy as couture, but not at the expense of practicality,” she explains.
Bazza Alzouman spent her childhood in South Carolina, moving to New York as a young adult, where she attended Parsons New York and worked under designer Naeem Khan, before eventually settling in Kuwait.
Consequently, her codes draw inspiration from a plethora of experiences and techniques. She believes that South Carolina is reflcted in the brand’s femininity, while New York is felt through a measured use of both colour and silhouette. Kuwait, on the other hand, is honoured via a “statement-making” quality achieved by constant reinvention of either volume or texture – “they’re fairly bold in and of themselves,” she says of the gowns.
Even with a prior (self-confessed) tendency to lean on the more lavish of fabrics and sleeker cuts, Alzouman separated herself early on from the embellished-fuelled landscape often associated with the Middle East’s eveningwear designers.
Her sobering use of colour is commendable – for summer, the palette flows from blush grey to black with a tiny injection of marigold yellow and amethyst, with previous collections also anchored in just three or four hues.
Back to reality though. And it’s one in which the global pandemic severely threatens the future of boutique brands like Bazza Alzouman. “Right now, I’m observing and thinking. I may look into my product styles if social distancing continues to be the norm, as we will not have the same sort of need for occasionwear in the immediate future,” she notes. We can already imagine it: light and luscious summer dresses, where tulle and silk are cropped to the knee and Alzouman’s statement silhouettes exist as sumptuous daywear.
“I learned how wonderful it is to really connect with being a mother at home. I launched my brand the same year that I got pregnant with my eldest daughter, so I’ve always had to balance work and motherhood,” she reveals of her personal experience amid lockdown.
“I’m really thankful for this opportunity to spend time with my two girls. I meditate and try to work out, and keep in touch with friends and family. I’m feeling blessed and enjoying my time.”
And of the significance of fashion during such turbulent times? “I still think it’s important for people to be able to enjoy beautiful things from time to time,” muses Bazza. “Even if they are not essential to our survival.” Bazzaalzouman.com