While many UAE-based designers are eschewing bold prints and loud colours for more minimalist styles, Tanya Ashraf, founder of the fashion label Roxx, refuses to tone down her designs to comply with current trends. Her autumn/winter 2017 collection, titled Kaleidoscope, features kitschy illustrations of flowers, flamingoes, rabbits and birds.
Prior to launching Roxx, which started out as a multi-designer boutique in 2006, Ashraf studied psychology, practised art, dabbled in modelling and experimented with garment construction. Although Roxx was first established as a store that stocked a variety of brands, today it is limited to Ashraf's own creations. "The name Roxx stems from my husband Ashraf's passion for rock music – everything about rock is over the top and rock stars themselves have this grandiose allure about them. We wanted a name for our fashion company that conveyed that feeling," she explains.
Over-the-top elements are the highlight of Ashraf's latest collection, which features Alice in Wonderland-inspired graphics, produced by the designer herself. "Being able to create the right prints that effectively translate my emotions took time," she says.
Voluminous midi-skirts are patterned with kitsch bunny rabbits robed in vintage dresses and frolicking on Parisian-inspired sidewalks. On a high-low shirtdress with black balloon sleeves, rabbits appear on mint-green bicycles, while a pastel-blue tunic and pleated maxi-skirt depict a white rabbit wearing a vest of playing cards, surrounded by whimsical flowers and clocks. Metallic accents and embroidered appliqué adorn some of the covetable designs.
"Kaleidoscope is a collection for the not-so-faint-hearted and for individuals who love to dress differently," the designer says. Given the breadth of the illustrations running through the entire collection, Kaleidoscope is an apt name for her latest range.
Ashraf, who has lived in the UAE for 23 years, has a background in painting, and prior to launching Roxx, had showcased her work at galleries and exhibitions in the region. "I do still paint when I get the luxury of some 'me' time. Abstract expressionism inspires me, since unlike paining a conventional scene, you paint an entire event," she says.
Though the patterns are loud and may only appeal to a niche set of customers, Ashraf manages to encapsulate the eclectic vibe on both feminine silhouettes and on more tailored, dramatic styles.
While Ashraf lives in Sharjah, Roxx currently only has one store, on Ajman Beach Road. And though the brand doesn't have any physical retail spaces in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, Ashraf plans to launch an e-commerce platform to help her reach her clients. "We are currently focusing on our online presence, so customers can view and purchase directly through our website," she says.
Those who are interested in connecting with the brand can also place orders via social media. The label's Instagram page is a reflection of the autumn/winter 2017 Kaleidoscope collection, cluttered with images of flamingoes on a sandy beach, an adorable little rabbit wearing a floral crown, and a fitting quote by Tom Ford: "People will stare. Make it worth their while."