Ayah Tabari, the designer behind the brilliant UAE-based fashion brand All Things Mochi, has spent a lifetime traveling the world in order to find and preserve artisan craft. From Mexico to Jaipur, she has uncovered heritage embroidery techniques and implemented them into her colorful collections with the aid of native artisans from each locale – which is why her collections are always themed after their origins. Now, you can find All Things Mochi stocked on exclusive luxury sites like Moda Operandi and Net-a-Porter.
For Ramadan 2018, Tabari found inspiration right here in the UAE. With longer sleeves and modest silhouettes, All Things Mochi’s new release is decorated with sparkling talli embroidery crafted by artisans from Sharjah, whose techniques go back centuries. The collection is also embossed with colorful, delicate prints inspired by henna. In the above video, Tabari takes you on her personal journey to Sharjah where she works with the artisans to bring her Ramadan vision to life. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she greets the artisans with warm hugs and witnesses the progress of their bespoke work.
Below, in an exclusive interview with Savoir Flair, Tabari discusses how she came to work with these special artisans, the unique characteristics of her collection, and the humbling experience of putting it all together.
Video: Courtesy of Mad Juice
Your previous collections have focused on artisan communities from Jaipur to Mexico. Why did you choose to focus your Ramadan release on artists from Sharjah? Is this a ‘homecoming’ of sorts for your brand?
I really wanted to work with an organization in the region and help raise awareness internationally for the talent and craftsmanship that is on our doorstep. This collection is very sentimental to me as I feel that it unearthed from the time I have spent in the Middle East. Even though I studied abroad, Ramadan is a very important time, so it was only natural to incorporate parts of my heritage and upbringing into my designs.
How did you find the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, with whom your partnered for your Ramadan 2018 collection?
My sister actually told me about the initiative; she is in the art industry and has worked a lot with talent and artists in the region, so I always seek advice from her when it comes to local creative organizations.
What was the experience of working with this community like? How did the artists feel about participating in this unique project?
It was a very humbling experience, and I found it mesmerizing to watch the 36 artisans who worked on the collection. I learned a lot about how the embroidery techniques were carried out and how each piece is developed. The women were so happy and grateful to be part of the project – it was amazing to see how meeting me and understanding how we have helped artisans around the world made them smile.
One of All Things Mochi’s greatest attributes is its focus on sustainability and preserving nearly-forgotten design practices. What techniques are preserved or developed in this collection?
The collection is inspired by the traditional crafts of the United Arab Emirates and talli embroidery, which is an intricate braid traditionally used to adorn women’s clothes.
What are the defining characteristics of your Ramadan collection?
It complements the holy month of Ramadan as it takes you on a journey of patterns incorporated with linen fabrics, which create a boho but sophisticated aesthetic for the ladies who wear it. It’s also inspired by henna, a beauty ritual that has played an important role in the lives of many Emirati women since 800CE. The key silhouettes to look out for are the ‘Dana’ dress, the ‘Tamara’ robe, and the ‘Ascia’ trouser.