Looking at her masterpieces help you live days and nights around the world. From the romantic symphonies in Paris to the exotic allies of Egypt and the elegance of Gatsby-era New York, Farida Temraz’s creations are by far stories told through fabrics and embroidery.
Temraz has frequently been celebrated for her spectacular garments. However, not many know about her academic life and deep passion for learning and educating. Temraz, who dazzles the crowd at night with her flawless runway shows, grabs much more attention during the morning as she helps several upcoming generations to be the best they could.
Daily News Egypt met the leading local designer to discuss her latest Parisian award, journey of learning, and her big dream of establishing an accredited fashion department in Egypt.
Your latest Parisian collection was celebrated internationally – what award did it receive?
Last March, I participated in Paris Fashion Week with my Autumn/Winter 2015/2016 collection. It was called “Once Upon A’ Paris”, as if you are telling a story in Paris. It is basically inspired by the architecture in Paris, but with the theme and the feminine psychology in famous Parisian shows and musicals such as “Moulin Rouge” and “Lido”.There was a competition judged by head of Fashion TV UK Gregg Asher, winner of the famous TV show “Project Runway”, among other experts that are the best in the European market. They agreed that my collection was the best among 15 other international ones.Accordingly I got the first place award, the best fashion designer in Paris Fashion Week. I can proudly say that I am the first Egyptian in the history of fashion to win the 1st place award in this event and it is an honour.
How did this award reflect on your brand locally?
In every single way, I already have good brand identity and recognition here in Egypt. But, for instance, when I came back with the award, I called a very big corporation because I wanted to do a photo-shoot in their place, so I contacted their CMO.When I called him, I asked for permission to do a photo-shoot the day after, and he said that it was short notice and he cannot help me with such a thing. He then asked for my brand’s name. He is in his 50s and in a very high position, so I told him that I am Farida Temraz, owner of Temraza. He said wait are you the designer who won in Paris? Then it is our pleasure to have you tomorrow.
What did you originally study in college?
I originally studied Integrated Marketing Communications with a double minor of business and psychology, and I had the highest GPA on the honours wall. Then I took fashion courses in Los Angeles, and whenever I travel I take intensive workshops – whenever I have the chance to learn, I keep on learning. However, practice is the key to success and knowledge. You have to know the base, I read zillions of books on illustrations and fabrics, which gave me a solid background and made me understand the body of a woman.
You have been a teacher assistant at the American University in Cairo (AUC) for a while, what do you teach?
Integrated Marketing Communications and Advertising Copy Writing – to the contrary to what anyone would think, it actually has everything to do with fashion, yet not the designing part of course.Here in Egypt, everyone wants to be called a designer, but they do not do much to deserve such title. I do not want fashion to be a solely creative business, as 90% of it is creativity but the other 10% is theoretical.It is very important to understand how to communicate fashion. I have a very specific market, the crème-de-la-crème, and I was the first one to approach this market. Most people search for sales, but I search for brand recognition and identity.I want to be the designer who is recognised not only by her talent but also by her knowledge and expertise.
You are currently working on your master’s degree, what is the topic of your thesis?
It is in fashion communication, which is how to communicate fashion. Because it is not only about posting pictures on social media and sales, it is much more than that. You are selling the sizzle not the steak!This thesis will include all the knowledge and experience I have, adding to it my training with the best designers worldwide. I will keep on learning because I want to incorporate fashion education in universities for the first time in Egypt.
Since this thesis is the first of its kind, who are the professors that will discuss and evaluate it?
Doctor Mervat Abu Auf, Professor of Practice at the AUC, for the communication and media arts angle, in addition to Dr Amany Ismeal, one of the best and most influential doctors I have ever seen in my life.Maybe they are not fashion related, but here comes my role as I want to import fashion from abroad to Egypt.
How would the upcoming generation of talents benefit from this thesis?
I aim to turn it into an educational material. I want to teach fashion.
Do you aim to establish a specialised department in Egypt?
My six-year plan includes a fashion communication department in the AUC. I like being very realistic and such a step would take time. I have already started with my thesis, because in order to do any education I have to be an authorised entity, so I am doing my best, I am teaching and my work speaks for itself.People in the department are very interested to start right away, but I am still working on the connections because I want to get it from abroad – in other words I want these courses to be internationally certified.The paperwork, however, will be completed after I get my MA degree, which will hopefully be by next year.
What are the initial courses that you plan to start with?
First I will incorporate my marketing strategies, including what is marketing communications, what is communications in general, including all aspects (PR, sales promotion, advertising, sponsorship, corporate social responsibility, public service announcements).And most importantly, fashion, how to market your brand, what is the approach to be high-end or to be a brand for the masses, how to be creative, how to sell, everything!
Who would be the teaching staff?
College professors of course – there is a very thin line between professionals and professors. Experts are not always good with teaching materials, as they are great with experiencing the practical life.So to have a combination of both is ideal. We will have professors who know fashion not fashion experts who know how to teach.
Where will the department get its educational material from?
The very first fashion book I have ever received was even before I graduated college, and it was on illustrations. Ever since, I have found that fashion books are very interesting and knowledgeable, so whenever I travel to Milan, London, Paris, or wherever, I buy anything fashion related. Even my friends in the industry send me books every now and then, because they have seen my major interest. By now I have a very sufficient personal library.
What type of people would graduate from this department?
In the beginning, it will not be a whole department but rather more separate courses. At first, it will even be one course. To enter a course to a well-established university is very big and it needs intensive work. Accordingly, it will start with a course, then a minor and after showing sufficient success it will be developed into a whole department, which would take an average of 15 years according to the current strategy the university and I developed.
Do you think the market would accept such department now?
It would certainly be popular but not successful enough, as not a lot of people would apply to it because this industry is still stereotyped as not a serious career. Even though it is the hardest thing I have done in my life from TV hosting to being a college geek and working as a marketing manager of Samsung TV, nothing is as difficult as this. I want to create awareness first, that fashion is actually a big thing. It is not like you are doing masters in nail polish, as the majority believes. We have a developing phenomenon in fashion but unfortunately not a successful one.