Whether reluctantly forced to do so by number-crunching bosses or behind the idea themselves, designers have become the faces of international brands, often superseding the clothes they produce and more famous than the celebrities they dress. But the truth for Sharjah-based brand OTT couldn’t be further from this. A quick Google search would yield little to no results as to who the designer behind the brand is, as he rarely partakes in face-to-face interviews and prefers to remain anonymous. Instead, he lets his collections alone do the talking, staying true to the name OTT with a design aesthetic that relies heavily on the use of vibrant hues, bold prints, and playful embroidery.
So what does a day in the life of this secretive designer, known only as Abdullah, entail? Read on for a rare glimpse into his working day – from not-so-early morning starts to evening chill-out sessions on Jumeirah Beach and late-night sketching.
I am a light sleeper – I usually sleep five or six hours and wake up at 9:30 a.m., which is extremely late by my friends’ standards. I once read that Sharon Stone told anyone who criticized her for sleeping in, “I don’t think Picasso woke up at five in the morning to go farming,” so now I always say that too. I sleep in pajamas; I’m obsessed with them. When I wake up, I spend 30 minutes meditating in bed. It helps me start the day with an energetic steadiness and creativity.
The first thing I do is grab my iPhone to check OTT’s Instagram and respond to urgent work messages or e-mails while drinking fresh ginger and lemon tea. On good days, I’ll do 15 minutes of yoga (sun salutation and breathing) before a quick shower. I love showers, and usually shower twice a day in winter and three times in the summer. Then, I prepare for the day with my grooming regimen. I’m currently obsessed with the Clarisonic Mia – it’s like an electric toothbrush for the face – and ZO Skin Health products by Dr. Zein Obagi, which I’ve recently discovered. I get dressed in a uniform of vintage denim shorts, oversized tee, and Havaianas flip-flops.
For breakfast, I usually have two slices of brown bread with labneh while browsing The New York Times and a few celebrity gossip sites.
I’m off to work. Depending on traffic, it’s usually a 35-minute drive. I recently read in The National that Dubai Police is considering sending errant drivers to anger-management courses, so I try my best to keep my cool on the road, which is extremely hard with the rush-hour traffic situation and the driving of certain people.
As soon as I get to the office, I run to the first fire that needs to be put out. I usually don’t take phone calls during the day. I like to be extremely focused with my team and shut the outside world out when I’m in the studio. I try to sort out my e-mails in the morning and attend to chores and paperwork before lunch.
I get to the atelier for sample fittings and supervise production-related matters, which takes up most of the day.
I usually head back home to have lunch. I’m a pescetarian, which is a vegetarian who eats fish and seafood, so for lunch I have grilled fish and salad. I’m very picky when it comes to the quality of the food I eat. Most of the vegetables are grown organically in our farm. I have family friends who are fishermen, so it’s literally the catch of the day for me. My only vice is that I have a sweet tooth, so I love dessert and could eat ice cream for the rest of my life, but I would not be caught dead eating McDonalds.
Time for Skype meeting with our Paris office. I spend an hour with my European Sales Manager discussing our Spring/Summer 2015 sales strategies for our upcoming fair participation during Paris Fashion Week. She also fills me in on her latest YSL vintage finds.
On the rare days when I can afford to be away from work, I meet my personal trainer for a combination of strength and cardio training. I also go swimming from time to time. Production is so stressful that exercising is my way of unwinding. I have around 36,500 songs on my iTunes library to work out to – I’m obsessed with music. I currently have Azealia Banks’ Heavy Metal and Reflective on repeat.
Dubai social circles spin too fast for me. I prefer chilling out with my closest friends, enjoying Karak tea on Jumeirah Beach or a spontaneous, intimate dinner.
My real office is my bed. I lie there sketching and designing prints for a few hours every night.
Since 2002, I’ve gotten into the habit of watching one episode of The Golden Girls on my laptop before sleeping. Although I’ve watched every episode a million times and know every line by heart, it always puts me in the right mood to rest and wake up happy.