Saudi Arabia's Ashi Studio makes history as first GCC label to join haute couture ranks

Designer Mohammed Ashi describes the appointment as the 'highlight of my career'

Noel Capri Berry wearing a gown by Ashi Studio, from Saudi designer Mohammed Ashi, attends the premiere of the film 'Aline' at the 74th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, July 2021.  AP
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Mohammed Ashi, the designer behind Saudi fashion label Ashi Studio, has made history as the first designer from the GCC to be invited to join the prestigious Federation de la Haute Couture.

Invited as a guest member, Ashi Studio will debut its first official haute couture collection in Paris on July 6.

A highly coveted grading, haute couture is a term that can only be bestowed by governing body Federation de la Haute Couture and being invited to join its ranks is considered the highest possible accolade for a fashion house.

Ashi launched his namesake label in 2006 and set up a studio in Paris in 2018. Since then, the house has been showing its collections alongside the haute couture schedule in the French capital, although has not officially been part of the event. With this invitation, for the first time, the label can use the term haute couturier.

“This is the highlight of my career,” the designer said. “I will honour it in the memory of the great couturiers who came before me and whom I now join in the pursuit of this grand tradition of excellence in creativity and savoir-faire.”

Ashi Studio is known for its sophisticated evening and bridal wear. Infused with skilful structuring, it carries an architectural edge rendered in folds of heavy taffeta, layers of lightweight silks, feathers and beadwork. With a flair for creating boldly elegant looks, it has long been considered a matter of when, not if, Ashi would be elevated to the ranks of this small group of the world's most distinguished designers.

“Today, I am reminded of days escaping to the garden to dream, and, of that first day, when I hired one seamstress to bring to life the images in my head,” he explained. “This recognition brings me the greatest emotion; it offers me the opportunity to share with you who I am.”

Ashi has dressed many of the world's leading ladies including Queen Rania of Jordan, Beyonce, Penelope Cruz, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor and Lady Gaga. Most recently, he created a custom gown for Jordan's Princess Iman to wear at the wedding of her brother, Crown Prince Hussein.

While Ashi is the first GCC talent to join haute couture, he is not the first from the Mena region. In 2016, Michael Cinco, who is headquartered in Dubai, made history as the first Filipino designer to join, while Lebanon has not one but three couturier houses. Elie Saab joined in 2000, while Zuhair Murad joined in 2001. Georges Hobeika, meanwhile, was invited to join in 2017.

Updated: June 07, 2023, 1:32 PM