Monday, 14 June 2010

STYLISA talks to the man behind House of glaMO, Mohammed Sultan Al Habtoor

We were lucky enough to interview the dynamic Mohammed Sultan Al Habtoor, the brains behind fashion label, House of glaMO

How did you get into the fashion world?
I am a firm believer that you are born with a certain style which you develop as you grow as it is all in your DNA and what you make of it.  Getting into the world of fashion in my case started at an early age from when I was a child at home.  I use to see my true and only role model, my mum getting ready for glamorous evenings, to go out with my father.  Her sense of style has always fascinated me.  She used to read magazines watch classical movies and get inspired by them.  I used to see her design and sketch her own clothes and she would take me to the atelier where she use to stand on a stool and get fitted with tailors, seamstresses, pins, needles materials and fabric, which was fashion heaven to me, and the rest is history.  I have always loved fashion, clothes and putting things together on myself, as well as family and friends.  The shock factor was what I always had in the back of my head, which is why I always stood out whenever I got dressed, taking that extra risk and daring to stand out like a sore thumb.  I have always been well travelled from a very early age and my curiosity always led me to see things that at the time were not in Dubai.  Of course over the years the UAE has developed and Dubai has become a fashion capital in its own right and I have witnessed this growth and have been a strong part of it.  Thanks to technology and the world of cyberspace, I have kept myself up to speed and got involved with it all.  Today I see myself sitting front row at the world’s leading fashion houses like Marc Jacobs, Kenzo, Nina Ricci, and Chanel to name but a few, and it will not stop here.

How did house of glaMO come into being and what was the inspiration behind it?
As an artist myself, I have always loved the world of design, but I wanted to appear different, have more of a value and relevance with what I do and inspire as well as embrace my fans and friends, so that in the future, they can look back and remember me my work fondly.  The house was developed overnight and I have to admit that it is because of luck and who I am as public figure that it exploded.  Having said that I basically took something as easy and as simple as a t-shirt (which is basically reachable to everyone) and created my signature slogans using current and political media affairs and adding a sense of humour to it.  It’s about messaging what people believe in, telling the truth, being a little controversial, funny and not hurting anyone.  I started the concept last year in October, with a little story in the media that irritated me.

When you first launched the collection, what was the initial reaction?
I was taken aback at it all because I really did not intend for it to explode the way it did. With my first t-shirt I did not expect the reaction to even leave the UAE or Dubai itself.  But it went global, and the media went into a frenzy.  I remember the next morning, my email beeped every 3 mins and my phone was off the hook (it still is).  I was so shocked. Obviously there were a few who wanted to get under my skin and try and get a reaction but I managed to keep my dialogue very diplomatic and sincere. 

Your work has created an avenue for social dialogue and commentary – was this intentional?
It Absolutely is. 

If you had to come up with a slogan for one of your t-shirts, for the new coalition government here in the UK, what would it be?
This is a funny one because I was just talking about it to a friend of mine a few days back and I was thinking that I would do something with the union jack and say "
Vote Now, Vote Never, fancy some fish and chips?".  It seems like these votes are not taken as seriously as they should be which is like having fish and chips…yummy, good yet not serious.

With the context of something as simple as the t-shirt and a statement, you have managed to successfully covey so many things – simplicity, relevance, fun.  How have you managed to succeed at this, when so many other designers fail?
The t-shirt as you have said is the universal fashion statement.  If you fail, try and try again until you find yourself.  I do not believe in failure.  I have to admit though that I did struggle because I did not expect the success.  Man power was required, which is why I involved my best friend Tamara Al Gabbani who is a great ambassador for the brand and we both became partners in the house, with me making her the Managing Director.  Two heads are always better than one and our partnership is so strong.  We have a fantastic team/family working with us and it is very much a family.  We consider the house to be a home for everyone who is involved with the brand, even our clientele.  If you have the right team with you, and a great back bone to encourage you, you will never fail.

Do you have any plans to expand the brand beyond t-shirts?
At this stage the house is considering expansion in the future as any brand should and we have a number of surprises.   However, in the meantime the t-shirt is our strength and we would like to maintain it.  We are currently working on a number of collaborations. Artist and t-shirt designer guru Christopher Lee Sauve from New York will be designing a number of t-shirts with us which will be launched this Autumn.  So please stayed tuned to see what we will be doing in the future.

What do you believe is the essence of true style?
It all depends on the person's lifestyle.  I always think a great hair cut/style and shoes complete a person’s look. Achievement and what falls in the middle is the formula or equation based on the mood or occasion. 

Who (other than house of glaMO) are your favourite designers?
Yves Saint Laurent is a true intellect and a great source of inspiration but since I love fashion so much, the list is endless.  I love Hedi Slimane for being a great artist, Rad Hourani, Rick Owens, Karl Lagerfeld, Alber Albaz, Jeremy Scott, Elie Saab, Riccardo Tisci, the late Alexander Mc Queen and many others.

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into the fashion industry? I would advise everyone to always follow their dreams, instincts and heart. Never let anything get in your.  Always remember that you really do achieve something at the end of each day.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Lisa again, For anyone who is interested to know what Mohammed is up to, follow him on twitter and join the facebook fan page thank you again. Team "house of glaMO"