Home FASHION Ashi to design cabin crew on Riyadh Air, as he plans major...

Ashi to design cabin crew on Riyadh Air, as he plans major couture show in Paris

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Ashi, the happening Saudi-born couturier, has been picked to design the attire for the cabin crew on Riyadh Air, even as he looks forward to staging a major couture show in Paris this June.

Mohammed Ashi – Courtesy

 
The linkup marks another milestone for the Kingdom’s new startup airline, whose stated goal is “to combine spectacular high fashion and outstanding design with functionality ahead of its maiden flight in 2025.”
 
Bankrolled by Public Investment Fund (PIF), the giant state-owned authority, Riyadh Air plans to set new standards in customer service and style, disrupting aviation through a digital-first mindset and attention to detail.

“It’s such an honor to  collaborate with  Riyadh Air to design the airline’s first ever cabin crew fashion line. The airline will play an important role in the future of Saudi Arabia by making Riyadh one of the world’s key destinations. I am delighted to be part of a project so significant for our nation… I am looking forward to sharing the cabin crew fashion line with the world, and to seeing the Riyadh Air team wearing my creations when it takes its maiden flight in 2025,” said Ashi, founder and creative director of Ashi Studio.
 
In 2023, Ashi became the first couturier from the Gulf region to join the Fédération de la Haute Couture in Paris as a guest member, showing an acclaimed collection in the French capital.
 
“It is a hugely proud moment for Riyadh Air to be working with an exceptionally talented designer such as Mohammed Ashi for our beautiful cabin crew fashion line. Our cabin crew personify the panache and style that Riyadh Air represents, making it imperative to partner with a like-minded innovator who not only understands Saudi Arabian culture and hospitality, but also captures the essence of our brand with a bold, visual impact,” said Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas.
 
Born in 1980 in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Ashi and moved to the U.S. when he went to boarding school aged 13 in Burlington, Vermont. Before going on to do a master’s degree in marketing at NYU.

“I was in New York when September 11 happened, which was very shocking. I was on the street on my way to school. After that I left for Paris, which is when I told my family that I wanted to study fashion, and they were appalled. My father said, ‘this is a woman’s job in Saudi’,” recalled Ashi over coffee in his Avenue Hoche studio and atelier.
 
After being largely cut off, Ashi supported himself. Happily, the family’s resistance did finally abate nine years ago, when his house began to achieve attention and traction.
 
Leaving America, he studied at fashion schools Esmod Paris and Esmod Beirut, before graduating in 2004. After which he did a “great one-year internship in Paris with Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy.” Before joining Elie Saab, where he spent three years, helping to open the Lebanese couturier’s ready-to-wear – travelling back and forth between Lebanon and France.
 
At which point, he opened his own house in Beirut in 2007. Slowly developing his brand, in 2013, he was spotted by the late great Franca Sozzani, when the Vogue Italia editor invited him to Vogue Talent to show underneath Tiepolo frescoes in Milan, nurturing and recognizing his talent.
 
“Franca pushed me to do ready-to-wear,” recalls Ashi, though after her tragic death in 2016 he retrenched into couture. Moreover, as political tensions rose between Saudi and Lebanon, Ashi eventually moved back to Paris, where he opened a tiny studio in the 9th arrondissement, “kept company by my sewing machine.”
 
His first true runway show was in the Ritz in 2019, just before Covid, forcing Ashi like so many others to then start presenting video displays. But, after multiple requests, last June the Federation accepted Ashi as a Membre Invité. Allowing him to show on the official Federation couture schedule, a remarkable achievement and a first for a gulf couturier.

Courtesy

 “I have a story to tell. A story of dark romance. A sad moment can touch you more than a happy one. Probably I took some of that from Riccardo, especially as he was in that sort of mood when I work with him,” says Ashi, when asked to define his DNA. “It’s more about giving emotions than giving a dress. I don’t call what I do dresses, they are objects,” he hoots with laughter.
 
Starting in 2015, he began to have huge red-carpet impact, when Eva Longoria wore Ashi to the Grammys. Flying to LA to do the fittings himself. Later, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé became fans.  
 
He does not regard himself as a Middle Eastern designer, but a citizen of the world, adapted to any city where he lives. Still, last October, Ashi staged a triumphant return show in Riyadh Fashion Week, the opening show of the debut season, presenting his voluptuous shapes on a custom-made rocky landscape outside King Fahad Library.
 
“It was a fashion moment for me. But, you know, my first clients were Saudi back when I was living in Beirut! Then we spoke in English, and they didn’t even know where I was from,” chuckles Ashi, who visits Riyadh once or twice a year. Today, he is very much a true trailblazer in the Arab world, feted for being the first gulf couturier to have broken into the rarefied world of Paris couture.
 
“That was big deal in the Gulf, in newspapers and TikTok. It really made an impact, when it was announced I was accepted by the French Federation. My family was pleased too,” muses Ashi.
 
His next step, a runway show on the final day of the couture week on Thursday morning, June 27 in the Musée de la Monnaie on the banks of the Seine, before 250 guests.
 
“It will be my biggest collection, 40 looks. And most expressive collection,” predicts Ashi, who will break new ground with black femme fatale dresses made of soft banana leaf gelatine fabrics; or raffia and taffeta gowns sculpted in his effervescent style.
 
Before the full uniform launch for the fall. An avionic collection by Ashi designed to ensure Riyadh Air cabin crew not only look impeccable but are comfortable and can deliver unrivaled, professional and first-class service to its guests. The latest expression of the never-ending rivalry between Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, an airline designed to be positioned above Emirates. Roll on the competition, dressed by Ashi, bien sur.
 
 

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