Tell us the most memorable moment in the history of your career in fashion, that moment which might have been most embarrassing and probably you learnt most from it.
I think there are a couple of big milestones for me, Two are celebrity focused. I think when I saw Cara Delevingne and Gigi Hadid wear Mochi I died a bit in side. Gigi was super special as I am from Palestinian heritage as is she. I admire how she is such a strong woman, she hasn’t let her fame affect her in any way. Another was being the first Middle Eastern designer to be featured on shopbop.com – that was a biggie. Embarrassing moments umm I am quite an outgoing person but can’t remember right now – I do embarrassing things all the time lol.
You were born in Palestine, and then between Dubai and Riyadh, London you grew up and studied, how have these places influenced culture in your designs?
I am Palestinian/Jordanian and grew up in Saudi, then to Dubai when I was 13 years old. I studied in Dubai and then went to university in London. I always have loved to travel which I think has moulded the aesthetic of the brand, travelling is now part of my job and is the best thing ever!
Your brand has a powerful ethical message; would you like to share that with us?
Mochi was born to support stitching communities worldwide and all started about 5 years ago, when I was on a trip to Goa with my girlfriends. I was walking through the streets one day and noticed some mirrored bags glistening in the street, I instantly fell in love. I had never seen anything quite like it before. I bought one bag and then after decided I might be onto something, so ordered 200 to be shipped to my house in Dubai. When the bags finally arrived, I didn’t know what to do with them so I just put them in my mum’s garage where they lay for 2 years. One afternoon, I decided to go down there and fish them out – seeing all the beautiful colors reminded me how much I had believed in the product so I decided to organize a sale for my family and friends. The bags sold out, confirming I was onto something Mochi begun!
The philanthropic part of Mochi started because I did not feel these amazing stitching communities were being supported for their incredible work, so I wanted to make a change. I have now worked with over five different stitching communities providing them all with not only monetary benefits but also a lifestyle change, which has come from our continuous support. Not only do we support stitching communities but we also believe very strongly in the empowerment of women, I also partnered with the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund for Valentine’s Day, to create ten limited edition pieces and all the proceeds went to the charity. The Women’s Global Empowerment Fund provide the less fortunate with benefits and education, in hope they can pursue the career path they wish to follow.
What do you mean by ‘designing with a conscience’?
Designing with a conscience means we take care of the communities and environment whilst doing so. Everything is ethical and sustainable.
Why the word MOCHI?
Mochi is the Indian word for cobbler, which later evolved into mirrored embroidery. I founded the brand while I was travelling in India, the first embroidery I used was mirrored. This is how the name originated.
Is there a designer or even a person that you have observed closely in your growing years, and you felt, this is it, This is how I want to do it. Or these are the values I will incorporate?
I am inspired by a few different designers, but always carefully watch what everyone is doing each season – it is important to be vigilant and in the know. I have always loved following what Isabel Marant does, but more recently I am find inspiration in Johanna Ortiz, who is relatively new on the scene, Alessandro Michele who I feel has worked to turn Gucci around. I also watch what Victoria Beckham does, she is amazing and I love her new charity conscious line of t-shirts which seem to be creating a buzz globally.
Correct if wrong, there is a lot of Indian influence in your collection.
India was where I started the brand and where the first collection was created, thus I have a huge soft spot for it. I would love to buy a house there one day!
You dressed several celebs, even Chiara! Can you share some highlights of dressing celebrities.
I find it so interesting that you name your collection after countries or cities. How has this developed? Do you borrow talent or handicraft from there?
I choose a different country to base my collection on each season, it must be a country which specialises in embroidery. Whenever I travel to create a collection, I usually spend a bit of time in each city – I spend time with a few different communities to choose which one I will work with and take it from there. We provide jobs for the people of the communities, so employ them under the Mochi family. We not only provide them with ongoing work but also monetary benefits which contribute positively to their lifestyle and well-being.
MOCHI is made in…?
Mochi is made in Dubai
Where can a fan buy Mochi? Can you also tell us about DESIGN 971, and how it happened for you?
A fan can go and buy Mochi at allthingsmochi.com, in our showroom located in Dubai Design District or at one of our retailers like www.shopbop.com or www.avenue32.com. We have over 40 stockists worldwide which are all featured on our website. For Design 971 we got approached by Emaar to pop up, it was nice to be a part of an event in the Dubai Mall and we benefited from their footfall.
We want to know about your experience with the Vogue Fashion Prize.
Vogue Fashion Prize/DDFC was a dream come true it was such a wonderful journey. The mentorship was incredible and standing in front of Roland Mouret, Browns and Curve Boutique amongst others. Being told I was on the right track was a feeling I will never forget, It was hard work but so worth it.
Culottes are back in style, though it has been part of your collection for a while now? Do you love them?
I love culottes and the way they suit my body which is why I chose to feature them in my collection, I think it’s genius how they have come back into fashion, especially the high-waisted style which I did. They give a modern but vintage edge.
What does Ayah’s regular day look like?
Get up, meditate and go the office. I always pick up my latte as I’m leaving my building to make sure I am prepared for the day. As soon as I get to the office, I check all my emails to get them out the way. Then usually go and sit with the design team to focus on what we’re working on at that moment. Then I break for lunch and repeat the same in the afternoon.
What’s your go-to outfit?
I love a good pair of high-waisted vintage jeans, a white tee, good lipstick and my Chanel sling back heels. Oh, and always a Mochi accessory! Maybe a choker or a pair of earrings