Mochi – JULY 2014

By Kate Hazell

We catch up with Ayah Tabari, the designer and creative vision behind the Dubai-based fashion brand all the Fashion Editor's are wearing— Mochi.

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If you follow the region's most stylish Instagram accounts, then you might have recently noticed a trend. Swathes of brightly coloured embroidered jackets, crop tops and A-line skirts have popped up on some of the city's fashion eds and coolest residents over the past year, all hailing praise (and multiple happy-face emoticons) to Ayah Tabari and her brand, Mochi. An already well-connected and fashionable part of Dubai's stylish scene (her sister Maliha is Managing Director of DIFC art gallery Art Space while her other sis Zeina has been named one of the most powerful Arab women in the region as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Dubai-based construction company Drake & Skull International), the 27-year-old Palestinians' ethnic-inspired designs are as cheerful and infectious as her personality. Sourcing material and textiles from all around the world for each collection, inspired by Ayah's love of travel, Mochi has quickly gained a cult-like following. We sit down and have coffee with the beautiful young designer to find out why her brand, which hasn't even had its one-year anniversary yet, is the talk of the town.


Did you see a gap in the market or has it always been a dream to launch your own fashion label?


I definitely saw a gap in the market. I wanted to produce collections that were affordable yet beautiful and unique. I was so intrigued with the artisans that I came across in Jaipur when I was travelling, their heritage and culture inspired me so much, and it all started from there really.


What do you think about the regional fashion scene?


I think it's constantly growing and has a lot of potential. There are a lot of talented people in the region and with the right guidance they can get to where they want to be. I'm proud to be apart of it all.


You were born in Riyadh and have lived in Jordan, Dubai, and London. What made you launch your brand in Dubai?


I live in Dubai so it made sense to start here and hopefully grow internationally. It was a great place to launch Mochi, it's full of so many inspirational people as well as trend setters. The support I received from friends, family and even strangers was very touching and the collections are constantly selling out. It's a great feeling seeing people wear my pieces.


How do you think Mochi fits in with the regional fashion scene?


I think the best thing about Mochi is that it's for everyone, no matter what their style is. All the pieces are really playful; people can either dress the pieces up or down and style it in their own way. I think that's what makes it special.


How do you see the brand contributing to the region?


I think it's definitely bringing some fun into the industry here. Mochi is all about not taking yourself too seriously and playing around with your style.


Where do you like to shop?


I love The Zoo Concept, Bambah and Socialista— they're all amazing in their own way. I go to The Zoo to find really cool quirky things that I can’t find anywhere else. Bambah on Beach Road has the best vintage shopping in Dubai for sure and Socialista carries really cool brands such as Opening Ceremony, Three Floor and David Koma, that are hard to find anywhere else in Dubai.


Do you source any of your embroideries locally?


Mochi means a chain stitch, which is an art of ancient embroidery, so for each collection I go to a country known for their local artisans and embroidery. If I got embroidery from the UAE it wouldn’t fit within Mochi‘s concept unless I decided to focus the collection on the UAE, which I’d one day love to do. But I have to find the embroidery first!


What do you like best about living in Dubai?


I've lived here for 18 years now, it's an amazing city. It has everything you need from a busy city vibe to a more quiet, beach life. My whole family is here and I recently got engaged so I’m very excited to begin a new chapter of my life in Dubai surrounded by all the people I love. I don’t see myself living anywhere else in the near future!


How does Dubai inspire your work?


Everything around me inspires me. My family inspires me everyday especially my mother and sisters. From a very young age I would watch them get dressed and see how they put their looks together and they always looked so effortlessly chic. They are a big reason why I decided to start my own brand.


Where are you happiest in Dubai?


My two favourite places are the beach and my home. The beach makes me feel so at peace with myself and I love spending quality time at home being surrounded by family.


What do you miss when you leave the city?


When the weather is amazing in Dubai it has a really great atmosphere and there are so many places to go and hang out in with friends. I also have a soft spot for shopping in Dubai. I feel very much at home in Level Shoe District and Harvey Nichols Dubai; they both have an amazing selection of shoes, better than anywhere else I've seen around the world! I definitely believe a girl can never have too many pairs of shoes.


How do you like to spend the weekends?


My place of ‘zen' is the beach. I love to go and spend all day there and just zone out with all my favourite people around me.


What's the last thing you bought?


I just bought a pair Sergio Rossi shoes from Level Shoe District in The Dubai Mall. They go perfectly with a Mochi outfits I've planned to wear at Eid.


Any hidden places readers should know about?


My favourite hidden gem of Dubai is the Bastakiya, down by the Creek. It has so much to offer from art galleries to souks. I love going when the weather is nice and a bit cooler and just walking around all the little pathways. There is so much culture there. I love the XVA Gallery, their courtyard is really beautiful and they do the most amazing lemon and mint juice.


What's your latest Dubai obsession?


I'm currently obsessed with O.N.E coconut water, I have to have one every single day! I also love S'WICH, the new gourmet shawarma place in the Marina – there's nothing like it in Dubai. It's so good.


What designers should we look out for?


I'm a big fan of bag designer Natalie Trad, I really love her clutches. I also love Emirati designer Madiyah Al Sharqi, I think she's really talented and I love all her pieces. Her dresses are particularly amazing.


What's contributing to the cultural society of Dubai and why?


I'm very excited to see what D3 (the new design district) has to offer once it's opened. I think the concept is great!


Any tips for surviving the summer?


Less is always more. I love the boho-chic effortless look for Summer when it comes to doing your hair and make-up. Plus it goes perfectly with a Mochi outfit.

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