Fashion designer Nabil Nayal has been enjoying international media exposure thanks to his latest ready-to-wear women´s collection. He describes the aesthetic of his favoured current collection as ´Elizabethan sportswear´ where he merges fashion influences from the golden age of England’s Elizabethan history with modern manufacturing techniques. Although the collection sounds a little like the ultimate fashion oxymoron, Nayal is looking to run with this theme and develop it in more collections to come.
Although 30 year old Nabil has only shown three collections since his graduation, he has gained an enviable industry recognition which has attained him an armful of accolades and awards to date. Fashion has always been in his blood since he spent his early years in Syria working in his families textile business from a young age which allowed him to develop his crafts and whet his appetite for a more serious, design orientated role within the industry.
Fast forward a decade on and after moving to England as a teenager, Nayal completed several short courses in fine arts and textiles before enrolling at Manchester Metropolitan University to complete the bachelor´s degree in fashion. Upon his graduation, he then went onto win the prestigious MA scholarship award from the British Fashion Council which then enabled him to study for a post-graduate Masters degree at the Royal College Of Art.
“I had been living in half Syria, half London and I wanted to celebrate those two opposite sides of myself. The richness of the Persian Culture and the British side of me. A juxtaposition that led to some interest” – Nabil Nayal
Whilst studying at the Royal College Of Art, El-Nayal also worked as an apprentice for Rihanna´s River Island collection and in Burberry Prorsum´s London HQ. Then, in 2011 Harrods snapped up his thesis collection as part of its ‘Harrods Launch Platform´ initiative which serves to act as a retail showcase for new designers. This enabled Nayal to debut at London Fashion Week that same year. Advancing forward, in 2015 he then went on to be shortlisted for the coveted LVMH prize which saw him achieve international exposure from displaying his collection at Paris Fashion Week in February 2015 which earned him a fan in Karl Lagerfeld.
Nayal´s autumn/winter 2016 collection is centred around one of the most decadent elements of the Elizabethan aesthetic – the ruff. The explained succinctly that he “ wanted to use ruffles in a modern way, the collection is very much about how the ruffle can be used not just as a neck decoration, but also on sleeves, and it’s integral to how the garment works and how it’s constructed.” Within this collection, he paid homage to his signature piece, the white cotton short which he updated with over-sized, architectural silhouettes, decadent sleeves, bonded pleating and then completed the overall look with 16th century smocking techniques.
“When I approach the machine, I think ok, this machine might be able to do this technique, but how can I make it do something different that no one’s ever thought about? It’s making me arrive at some very interesting collections, but it´s also a little bit disrupting.” – Nabil Nayal
Currently, the collection is available to pre-order at Moda Operandi before it goes on to be stocked in Harvey Nichols Dubai store where it should attract the eyes of the more fashion-forward jet set with its price ranges of $1,300 to a whopping $4,000 for a single garment. (The price however does reflect the label’s craftsmanship with each piece hand crafted in England, we are assured).
Not one to rest on his throne, Nabil is currently composing his next historical couture offering whilst working towards a Ph.D. from Manchester Metropolitan University in Elizabethan fashion, where his focus will be on encapsulating the historical aesthetics and fusing them with modern technologies, such as 3-D printing and smart fabrics.
In a recent interview, Nayal quoted Queen Elizabeth I as being his be-all and end-all muse, and that he was positive that “If she was alive today, she would be wearing my pieces. I’m 100% certain of that. She was so powerful and she challenged conventions, which is what I’m about.” Going by his recent run of success in the material world, it´s certainly a claim I cannot dispute given the regality of his aesthetic.
Article: Charles Daniel McDonald
Photography: Nabil Nayal
Nabil Nayal: Autumn/Winter 2016 Look Book