Some special events can require a more than casual approach. Choosing a fancy outfit for your little girl on occasions like when she been selected as a bridesmaid or flower girl at a wedding party can require more attention. The same is true for a first birthday party, a baby shower or a dinner evening.
“The idea of soirée outfits and dresses for baby girls and little girls didn’t exist in the Egyptian market only a few years ago, and only a few brand stores were available,” said Yara Sherif, an Egyptian fashion-designer for children. “Sometimes, I found good designs but did not like the colour or the fabrics of the dresses on the market.”
Sherif has been working in the fashion field for five years, and today she offers a wide range of evening wear for little girls. She specialises in clothes for baby girls and children from birth up to 12 years old.
She entered the fashion field by coincidence, as it was not her field of study. In fact, she studied accountancy at university. However, the story of her transformation began when Sherif was invited to the wedding party of some friends. Sherif could not find a suitable dress for her daughter Hanya, then two years old.
“I decided to design her dress myself. I drew a sketch, picked the fabric and accessories and went to see a tailor who made the design,” Sherif said. “It was admired by my relatives and friends, and they encouraged me to continue.”
Sherif is a self-taught designer, but she is talented by nature. “In the beginning, I watched a lot of videos on YouTube. I also learned the basics through working with dressmakers,” she added.
Sherif now has her own boutique and her own fashion brand, Bow Kids. She also has her own atelier and fully trained staff who work on modern sewing machines. The prices of her clothes are also very reasonable. “They are 100 per cent Egyptian products. The fabrics, accessories, designs and workers are all Egyptians,” she said.
Sherif gets the inspiration for her collection from following up the Paris and London fashion weeks and professional designers of woman’s wear like the famous Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab and the Lebanese-American designer Rami Al-Kadi.
The main colours Sherif uses in her latest collection for winter 2019/2020 are white, off-white and cream. She also uses more dominant colours, and, as she explains, black is never out of fashion. This may seem an odd colour to use for children’s clothes. “On the contrary – I have used black in some of my bestselling designs. I use it for plain black dresses or for dresses in black mixed with gold,” she said.
Dark green, hot pink, violet and maroon are trendy colours this winter. Silver and gold are also in. “Choosing the right design, colour, fabric and colour-matching with an appropriate design for the client’s age are all important elements for me,” Sherif said.
She also has handmade embroidery with crystals and floral designs in her collection. “I love flowers, and I make designs for all types of flowers in different shades and colours. They are the basis of my designs, and they give them an elegant and charming look,” she added.
She provides hair bows and headbands with a dress or outfit when a customer requests a customised order. The shape of the bow is according to the dress design, she says.
Sherif commented that whatever the season, her soirée dresses use the same fabrics and materials. The garments can be either sleeveless or sleeved.
In winter, designs vary on the place of the event being attended. For indoor venues, little girls usually wear chic fur coats over dresses on cold evenings. For open-air occasions, they may wear heavier fabrics with sleeves in chamois or velvet to get warmer.
Sherif likes to mix and match combinations of different fabrics including chamois, velvet, wool, feathers with lace, taffeta, chiffon, silk, brocade, crepe, tulle and satin. Her favourite material is tulle. “The fabrics I use are the same, the main difference being in the colour-matching and pattern design or floral printing.”
For young children up to three years old, Sherif prefers fabrics to be lightweight and soft-textured, like tulle with cotton or satin lining. “These fabrics are natural, soft, safe, comfortable and highly absorbent,” she said.
It is not necessary for a dress to be a one-piece outfit. “It can be two pieces, like a cross top with a mini or long skirt, or a cross top with shorts and a jumpsuit. The dress has to be practical for the child,” Sherif said.
Both real and faux feathers are fashionable this winter, and a dress entirely covered with feathers is trendy. Sherif sometimes uses sequins over tulle fabric and feathers.
Sleeves cut as ruffles off the shoulder are always in style. One shoulder, off-the-shoulder short sleeves, an open back, two shoulders adorned with lace, fringes, flowers and feathers all add lovely touches. In addition, fluffy sleeves and a skirt with ruffled layers can give a puffed-up look.
Dress lengths differ from one client to another and vary according to the dress design. Long, mini, short, and long in the back, along with short in the front, are all fashionable for dresses, Sherif commented.
Trails also look gorgeous for younger girls. “They are best for girls aged four years and up to 12 years,” Sherif concluded.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 31 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.