On a mission to empower women through fashion, entrepreneur Ranna Zahra Suhail’s idea for her recently launched, custom tie-dyed clothing line Glam & Rock, came to her in an Indian flash monsoon.
The fashion industry is known for its ‘sizest’ and rigid ideals of beauty, and this often makes it seem inaccessible to many people, she says. ‘While the industry has seemingly embraced ‘plus size’ clothing in recent years, this has only served to create a stigma around the term by separating women’s bodies into ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ categories.’
Inspired by her Kurdish and Arab heritage while growing up in London, Ranna’s clothes are a combination of glamour, bohemian flare and a hint of rock chic designed to ‘make women of any size feel and look beautiful’. Ranna tells us about how she launched her clothes line, her inspirations and her upcoming ‘Constellation’ collection.
What inspired you to launch a clothing line?
It felt like the right time. I was always sketching, making clothes for friends and clients, but they were custom pieces. However last year, I went to Goa in mid-October when it was still monsoon season. It rained all day, every day. It gave me a lot of time to think and evaluate what I truly wanted. This was to design clothes for women. Launching Glam & Rock is a dream come true.
How did you come up with the name Glam & Rock?
I have always loved music. Growing up in London, I spent many evenings going to gigs in Camden and Islington – indie rock was all the rage. So the name, Glam & Rock is based on being bohemian, glamorous and a rock chick, too.
What is your fashion philosophy?
Fashion to me is not about following rules or conforming to seasonal trends. Everyone should look beautiful – in their unique way. When you wear something which makes you feel good, you look good. It’s about self-expression. At school I was always considered a little bit strange. I didn’t follow what everyone else was wearing. I was buying one dollar army combat pants and then going to china town in London and buying kimono tops, because I felt comfortable in them.
How are you hoping to break down the restrictions of women’s clothing?
I don’t want to design clothes based on what dress size a woman is – I am designing clothes to make women of any size feel and look beautiful. Every woman has the ability to look beautiful and be the best she can without conforming to or following fashion blindly. We should learn to embrace who we are and not what society dictates us to be.
Do you have a signature style?
My style is a mish-mash of rock chick, bohemian, and ’50s glamour – I love putting on a vintage silk dress and adding a biker jacket to it. Most importantly, there has to be a hint of tie-dye somewhere.
Who are your fashion idols?
In terms of designers, Galliano for his incredible show stopping theatrical couture, Elie Saab for his beautiful evening wear and Kenzo for his use of florals and pristine tailoring. As for celebrity idols, Angelina Jolie (the ultimate glamour goth), Kate Moss (the timeless bohemian), Gwen Stefani (my favourite rock chick) and more recently Blake Lively, who looks amazing in everything.
As a female entrepreneur, what advice would you give to aspiring young women?
Don’t give up on your dreams. Design a life you love. Once I got to being an independent woman, all I kept thinking was, you have to do this for yourself. This is my calling. When you have a calling you have to answer it, or you’ll always wonder and question it later in life.
Can you give us an idea of what your upcoming Autumn/Winter 2015 collection will look like? Constellation – my collection is inspired by planets, the night sky and the stars; it’s about midnight blues and rich magenta purple tones. I think it’s one of those things that will suit a lot of people in terms of colour. Tie-dye is the main feature and will always feature in my collections. I’m feeling very creative right now – I’ve sketched the next two or three seasons.
Being of Kurdish and Arab descent, would you consider tapping into your roots and designing Middle Eastern inspired clothing in the future?
With my Kurdish/Arab descent I have always been a nomad at heart. My travels have always inspired me. Living in Dubai means there is a constant source of inspiration from both East and West. I am sampling some Arab inspired pieces with a twist, so watch this space.
What is your top fashion tip for women?
Be true to yourself. Wear what makes you happy. It’s exhausting, you know? People are exhausted by the fact that they have to try and keep up with the latest trends, for me it’s not about that. It’s just about trying to find comfort in yourself. I’m 39-years-old and it’s taken me a while to get to that point where I’m thinking, you waste so much time and energy trying not to be yourself, and then you realise that what suits you best is when you are being true to yourself.
About the designer
Name: Ranna Zahra Suhail
Birth Place: Iraq
Inspiration: My Kurdish grandmother, a tiny fiery gypsy, with tribal facial tattoos and beautiful long henna red hair.
Where can people buy your clothes: I will soon launch pop-up shops across Abu Dhabi (my Instagram will always be updated with upcoming events). Everyone is also welcome to contact me via my website for custom orders too.
Contact details: www.glamandrock.com (050 455 0691).
Behind-the-scenes in Ranna’s Indian studio
What was it that drew you to visit India to seek inspiration?
When I was a little girl I was always watching Bollywood movies with my grandmother. I fell in love with it before I had even visited.
Where did you visit in India?
There are so many beautiful places I want to visit, so I can only say I am still discovering India. I’ve been to Goa and Mumbai, but I would love to plan a trip to Jaipur and Kerala.
What did you like most about it?
There was so much colour and energy. When you go to places such as Mumbai and you experience the sounds, the sights, the smells – there’s this energy that just hits you.
Where exactly do you source your materials from?
Satwa and Bur Dubai are amazing for fabrics. I also source from Italy and India. My tie-dye fabric is custom dyed for me in India.