Bahraini fashion designer Haya Khalifa grew up in a creative environment, where pursuing what she felt passionate about was encouraged. At the age of five, she got her first taste of fashion design, playing with her grandmother’s sewing machine and creating her own dresses. Haya experimented with various fields in architecture and art during her university years, but felt a stronger connection to fashion – one that was highly influenced by her mother’s career.
From there, Haya started to work on and materialize her eponymous brand, now creating designs that feel feminine and contemporary. Her recent work – which is inspired by the high priestesses of the Amazigh tribes – reflects an attitude of independence. It is feminine and graceful, yet strong. In honor of Mother’s Day, Savoir Flair asked Haya to share the fashion lessons that she has learnt from her mom. Mothers really do know best, after all.
Always opting for classic.
I have spent half my life going through my mother’s closet and, no matter what year it was, her outfits always felt classic and timeless. She loves a feminine suit or a printed tea dress that can work for different occasions.
Quality, quality, quality.
That’s the most important thing! As a designer, my mother has an eye for quality fabrics, and she always pays attention to the finishing. If it’s not made in a way that will satisfy her, it’s not good enough for the customer. She’s a perfectionist, and I think I got that from her.
Her unique approach to using prints.
Mom has a special relationship with fabrics. She always plays with the fabric until she brings out its print in ten different ways – just give her one single print and she can create an entire collection from it.
Designing for different body types.
When I was young and insisted on buying a trendy piece that all my friends had, my mom would say something that translates to, “If your friends throw themselves in the ocean, would you do the same?” It was her way of telling me that not everything that looks good on others would work for me, and that’s how I learned to design for different body types.
My love for vintage.
My mom is such an old soul; she loves vintage fashion and hates current trends. She says things like, “Oh, we wore this back in the 80s.” We’re both obsessed with 50s fashion because that’s when fashion was truly revolutionized at the hands of Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, and Hubert de Givenchy.
A natural ease with the design process.
I’ve been around fabrics and sewing equipment for as long as I can remember. My mom’s favorite hobby was designing. She had a crafts room where she used to create giveaways, decorations, and dresses for me. I knew it’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Sewing from an early age.
I’ve had my first sewing machine since I was six years old. Back then, my mom would take me shopping for fabrics and accessories. She would make me a matching dress, hat, and bag on her sewing machine while I tried to make the same dress for my dolls out of fabric scraps using my sewing machine.
Embracing colors, but also appreciating neutrals.
My mother can mix up any colors to create something unexpected, which is something I hope to achieve. This is still a learning process for me because I feel black and white are the only colors you need.
An irrational love for coats.
I blame my mom for this one! I learned from my mother that you can never go wrong with a chic coat – you can dress it up or dress it down with the right styling. It’s also perfect when you’re trying to create a modest look.
Practically everything I know.
I spent six years working closely with my mother in fashion – everything from fabric selection to draping and garment construction. She taught me that nothing is impossible and encouraged me to pursue a career in fashion when everyone was against it. Even after I got my degree in fashion design, I feel there’s still so much to learn from her. I owe everything to her.