Concepts and philosphy worn | Discover Autonomie by Cairo-born Maha Ahmed

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Based on individuality and the independence (“Autonomie” being French for autonomy) that makes each of us unique, Maha Ahmed’s brand Autonomie aims to “recite a new story, philosophy or a concept.” Bold prints, feminine cuts, dashes of sequins, plays on lengths and structures, wearing Autonomie is like opening a book where each chapters takes the story further. Curious to know more about these beautiful worn tales, JDEED interviewed Maha Ahmed, who confessed “I wanted to build a brand that can turn into a community, where people feel like they belong.”

Hello Maha! Tell us a bit about you and your label, Autonomie.

I am a 28-year-old woman, born and raised in Cairo. I just launched Autonomie last March in Dubai, and I am very excited about this new journey and grateful for everything that we have accomplished so far. The whole idea of the brand is to create a sense of connection between people, where they can relate to one another and know they’re not going through life alone, but rather together. I’ve been through moments in life where I felt very isolated and alone, even when I was surrounded by many people physically, and it’s not the best feeling. I wanted to build a brand that can turn into a community, where people feel like they belong.

We read you lived around the world: how have these experiences shaped the way you see fashion and influenced you as a designer?

I am sure it did. I mean in general, I believe that any place we live in or people we live with, leave a piece of it/ them with us, and that’s part of what makes the world so connected. So let alone living in 2 fashion capitals (Paris and Milan) and cities that are filled with art and culture, where there is so much to see and learn constantly, for sure contributed to how I think, how I get inspired, what inspires me and even my own methodology of work as well I would say.

Who is the Autonomie customer and do you have any muse or person in mind when you create?

The Autonomie customer has been very diverse in terms of age, gender, interests etc. so far, which for me is a very good thing because the whole point of the brand was bringing people together and creating this sense of belonging regardless of who you are, so I am glad. As for the muse, each season is different, and every collection is different. I change as a designer as well as a person, and therefore it’s only normal that my inspiration evolves with me as well.

You were born in Cairo and the brand is now Dubai-based; Would you say the Middle East and North Africa are a part of your design DNA?

Yes for sure. For me, I always try to have my inspirations discrete in a garment. You’ll hardly see a piece and think “yes this is inspired from the east or the west”. It’s all about how it makes you feel. But we come from countries that are rich with culture, whether it’s Egypt or the Middle East in general. Cultures that are full of their own art an history and growing up in such places does leave their impact on you as well.

Your SS21 is quite playful with a lot of prints and colors; what was your mindset while creating, considering the tough times we’re passing through; was it a way to kick the negativity away?

That was the idea behind SS21, so I am glad you asked this question. The collection was about focusing on the good in life, living in the present moment, the simple moments and what you can do now to be who you want to or where you want to be rather than waiting on some farfetched dreams to happen. It was about the here and now, and to me that meant channeling all this negativity you mention, hardships – whether it was things that I was going through personally or
things the world was going through in general, to create something that’s beautiful, happy and can bring people together.

What are your projects and goals for the brand? What can we expect in the near future?

Oh so many goals and plans! It was only the first collection, the road is still long and the journey is just starting. While I don’t know how this journey looks and what the future holds for me or the brand, that’s part of the excitement and how we learn and grow. You can expect our winter collection soon, and we presented the brand in Paris and Milan these fashion weeks.

Discover more about AUTONOMIE right here!