At just 25 years old, Egyptian fashion designer Amna Elshandaweely is using fashion and design to change the way darker-skinned Egyptian women are represented. Her latest collection goes beyond fashion to speak to the ways in which design can be used as a catalyst for change. It’s an Afropunk-inspired range featuring prints and designs from some of Egypt’s most far-flung and isolated settlements. Elshandaweely inspired us with her edgy, futuristic apparel, presented at Design Indaba this week.
This 25-year-old Egyptian Designer is challenging the status quo through design
Elshandaweely explains that, as in many parts of Africa, darker-skinned Egyptian women face discrimination, stares and jeers from passers-by, being viewed as ‘less beautiful’ than lighter-skinned peers. By travelling through her native Egypt and into other parts of the continent, she explores what it means to be African, finding inspiration for her Afrofuturistic designs, which challenge the norms of what is traditionally considered fashionable back home in Cairo.
مجموعة -في مدينة الامازيغ- -In The City Of The Amazigh- FW ’16-17 Model @rawanuncensored Art director: @ahmedwsorour MUA: @ramaabdelrahman Photography @loofproductions #AEStudio #AEDesigns #TheCityOfTheAmazigh #tribalwear #ethnicwear #readytowear #tribalgowns #tribalcouture #handmade #ethnic #thisisegypt #FW16 #fw #siwa #amazigh
By using darker-skinned models in her campaigns, Elshandaweely is leading the way for the fashion industry in Egypt and beyond to make representation a priority. With her gender-fluid range, Road to Fayoum, she celebrates the unique Egyptian city, aiming to transport the wearer to another place and time. Her next collection, the Amazigh, is a further celebration – this time of the culture: the fashion, music and lifestyle of Egypt’s old cities.
As many young people from Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2012) around the world galvanise to ignite change in more than just the political landscape, it’s inspiring to see how design can be part of the movement. By bringing the colours and influences of the old cities into Cairo, using models representative of a marginalised demographic of darker-skinned, curly-haired women in a culture that favours their paler compatriots, as well as creating gender non-binary ranges, Amna Elshandaweely is a prime example of how design can influence change in the world.
Find out more and shop online at amnaelshandaweely.com.