Crush Of The Week

Les Benjamins collaborates with Engy Mahdy for Women’s Day capsule

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If you read or follow JDEED, or just if you know a thing or two about Fashion in our day and age, you are by now familiar with the Istanbul-based retail and lifestyle brand Les Benjamins. Founded in 2011 by Bunyamin Aydin, creative director, Les Benjamins’s womewear is lead by the talented Lamia Al Otaishan Aydin.
Born and raised in Riyadh, Lamia studied fashion at Esmod in Beirut before moving to the the Turkish Capital where she took on her current role.

Yearly, the first day of the second week of March sees the celebration of women across the world. A key date to the brand, Lamia usually partners with creative women from the region to create some magic. This 2023, she has joined forced with Dubai-based Egyptian artist, designer, and pattern maker Engy Mahdy to birth an exclusive capsule collection that feature 8 pieces we need to get our hands on, presto. JDEED talked to Engy and Lamia to get a better sense of what this collab is all about.

Hello ladies, can you tell us a bit about how this collection came to life?

Lamia: Every year for Women’s Day, I get the chance to work with a female artist/designer from our region. Being friends with Engy and knowing how amazing her work made me approach her and the outcome was amazing.

What does Women’s Day mean to you?

Lamia : I think Women’s Day is everyday, as cliche as that sounds, but to me, it’s a day where we celebrate each other.

Engy : I believe Women’s day still exists as a reminder that there is still a need for gender parity. However, as women, we achieve, excel and we are women every day. We actually do not require to be celebrated, we only require equity and equality, and until we have that and it becomes a given mentality in society, we will continue to have a need for this day.

Do you believe women can translate their strength and power through clothes? How so?

Lamia: Fashion is a beautiful form of expression that many women freely articulate how they think and feel.

Engy: I believe everyone can. Fashion is a mode of expression, it’s a language with multiple voices and we can channel these voices based on how we feel in any given day. Essentially, fashion can amplify the voice we need to have. And to be honest sometimes I personally love being anti fashion. Leaving the house looking like I don’t know anything about fashion. And on those days I’m likely trying to disengage from being perceived as anything.

What do you believe are still challenges to be overcome for women to live more freely and independently in our region?

Lamia : To live more freely and independently in our region?
I can see so much progress and so many of us have the power to live life the way we choose to.

Engy : I think we are an extremely talented and capable population of women in this region. I think that as a whole we need to seek validation from ourselves and not from others and especially not from men.
Of course it is important to be considerate of our close loved ones, family and friends, however we need to change the need to be validated at large. When we have education and qualification, it is important for us to be confident enough to validate our own work and actions.

Tell us more about the collection itself; where did you draw inspiration from?

Engy: This collections aims to portray the present day woman. A woman who is feminine yet bold, assertive and disruptive. It is a juxtaposition of the highly feminine with references from the punk aesthetic.
As you look through the collection, you will see a recreation of plaid, safety pins as earrings and studs on several pieces.Punk as a philosophy values boldness, self expression and a deep passion for authenticity.

Les Benjamins has had many successful collabs and bringing creatives together is part of the essence of the brand. Why are they so important to you?

Lamia : Les Benjamins is a platform for Eastern Artists to express themselves. It’s important to us to exchange cultures through design and storytelling.

If you could wish one thing for women right now, what would it be?

Lamia: Continue being confident, supporting each other and growing our sisterhood
Engy: Thrive to be natural, feminine women. Engage more in understanding where we need to bring out our femininity and when to bring out our masculinity. And understanding that there is a place for both in our lives for every situation.

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