In her childhood, Mahshid Alavi and her family had to move very often. Therefore she wanted to create a clothing brand where you only need a certain number of garments in order to create a large wardrobe.
First, tell me shortly about your background.
I spent 3 years at the design school Esmod Oslo and graduated in 2014. In the first two years, you really explore your skills in fashion illustration, colour theory and the creative process from idea to finished product. By the time I was in my third year I already knew what kind of collection and technique I wanted to create for my graduate collection.
What kind of products are you designing?
I design women’s clothing. The idea behind the A’lawee’s products is that one person can have a certain number of garments but at the same time a very large wardrobe. Each garment is designed so it can be used in many different ways by removing the layer(s) or changing the design by playing with the buttons.
Can you explain the process from an idea to the final product?
It all starts on my desk with a pen and paper. Sometimes it takes days or weeks for me to design a whole collection, and sometimes just a few hours. It is all about what kind of mood I am in. I always make my own prototypes before I send the product for producing. I like challenges, and for me, trying to find a way to make new techniques is a challenge. But the real challenge is when I am making the construction and trying to put the layers together. When you have such a unique technique, it never works the way you think it will and that is where the hard part begins. It also helps the products to speak for themselves. Not every designer will understand the point and the technique behind my garments.
Where do you find inspiration?
I can get my inspiration in the most random places. I can find inspiration in a friend, family member, people in the street, a movie, music, a picture, food. Inspiration is everywhere, it is up to you to be open for it and actually get inspired. However, the main inspiration and ideas behind my products come from my childhood. As a child, me and my family had to move very often. And of course, you cannot bring with you all your luggage and everything that you have in your closet. That is where the idea and inspiration behind “certain number of clothes, but at the same time a very large wardrobe” comes from.
Who are you designing for?
I design for women that dare to be different. A strong, independent woman with a unique and chic style.
What is your worst and best memory as a fashion designer?
My worst memory will be the time I had to stand in front of the jury and talk them through my graduate collection. Let’s just say that I was so nervous that I forgot how to speak! My best memory will be the time that A’lawee got to show the SS17 collection at New York Fashion Week.
What does the future of A’lawee looks like?
The future is very bright. In August our online store was launched and there are so many other projects that are coming up that I can’t talk about yet. Keep an eye on A’lawee so you can stay updated.
What is your best advice for aspiring fashion designers?
Make sure that you really want it. Being a fashion designer is not as glamorous as you think. perhaps it’s not glamorous at all. It’s hard work…. day and night. there is no such a thing as “day off”. With that being said, if you really want and love it, it IS the best job in the whole world.
As told to: Synne Krogstad
Images: Podium, Camilla Hay Jenssen, A’lawee’s webpage, Fashionista in Oslo, Verozitas blog,