At Fashion Forward this season, Nafsika Skourti stood out from the rest of the designers with her brilliant camo prints, streetwear aesthetic, and thumping hip-hop soundtrack. The young Jordanian native is cutting a singular path through the Middle Eastern design world, with a unique outlook that makes her well suited to lead the youth movement in regional fashion.
In only one year, Skourti is already on pace to excel beyond regional markets to capture the attention of an international audience, winning praise from major media outlets for her ability to fuse deep, meaningful communiqués into wearable, on-trend collections. Flipping through her lookbook for Spring/Summer 2016 entitled ‘Temporary Security’ is akin to discovering an underground magazine that might have been made by a particularly fashionable member of the Seattle grunge scene or the late 80s graffiti groups of New York City. It feels raw and authentic, with shots that sell her brightly colored clothes against a contrasting industrial background. What’s clear from the lookbook is that Skourti is doing something different, and this holds massive appeal for fashionados who pride themselves on discovering the next big thing.
In an exclusive talk with Savoir Flair, Skourti shares her roundabout route to becoming a fashion designer, saying, “I had actually applied to Central Saint Martins with the intention to do sculpture. I secretly wanted to do fashion design, but wasn’t going to admit that until I was convinced I could. I enjoy the dialogue that comes with design – I can’t impose my creative narrative on anyone, because the clothes need to serve a purpose. The problem-solving aspect really appeals to me.”
While she’s remiss to impose a creative narrative, Skourti is keen to channel the movement she feels is happening in the city of Jordan; “The energy around our region is insane,” she shares. “As a designer, I’m always hunting for pools of electricity to ignite a creative reaction. I didn’t really go in with the intention of creating a collection with political undertones, but ultimately the collection was about fighting the good fight.”
Her multi-colored camo prints were key in relating this message, but, in case you didn’t pick up on it, Skourti makes her raison d’être literal by transcribing Arabic and English slogans onto her clothes. “We featured bilingual phrases and words purposefully. I feel like we are all saying the same thing all over the world, all the fundamental messages are identical – but they are getting lost in translation. I’m so over Arabic calligraphy. We just had to put the language in a cooler vehicle. ”
The lookbook was also a reflection of her “fashion as protest” thesis. Its gritty look was selected to showcase the clothes, but also to transport us to an area of the world where survival is more important than simply looking cool. Skourti shares behind-the-scenes details of the shoot, saying, “Spring/Summer 2016 was shot in a warehouse that was a Fiat service center in the 60s. Zein from my team found it and knew she struck gold when she saw the lines on the wall and all the quirky props. I knew I wanted scale. I wanted everything behind or around the model to be bigger than her. I felt like the concept of the collection was so worldly that it would have been weak to have little things. The rocks in the shoot were actually the rocks from the Ridley Scott movie with Matt Damon, The Martian, which by the way was partially shot in Jordan. They were these amazing fiber glass rocks that looked so real. Having these huge rocks on a concrete floor was the best.”
As glamorous as it sounds to be a young, up-and-coming fashion designer, the reality of the work is apparent in these behind-the-scenes pictures, which see the cast and crew huddled around an air-conditioning unit. “We shot the lookbook in September and it was so hot, so we hustled in a portable AC unit. We worshiped that thing and we all sat in front of it like we were in some imaginary school bus,” she laughs.
Click through the gallery for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of Nafsika Skourti’s Spring/Summer 2016 lookbook.