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Yasmine The Creative Nomad

Yasmine, the creative force behind Yasmine Studio, was one of the first to introduce a fashion boutique in Nepal. Her designs are inspired by a myriad of cultural influences. Born in Germany, her Moroccan father and French-Greek mother kindled a love of different cultures and nature’s beauty in her from an early age. Having lived in Germany, Morocco, France, Brazil, USA and Nepal, Yasmine has been creating fine clothing for the past three decades. Quality, attention to detail and her innate blending of colours and textures inspired by nature, define her designing skill as a rare and harmonious fusion.

Her designs have grown exponentially, taking into its fold artisans who embroider those timeless coats. WOW caught up with the designer during her visit to the capital, before she headed to live her nomadic life travelling to various continents. Unveiling her new collection, Jasmine discusses how she strives for sustainability and authenticity. Excerpts from an interview:

What’s the inspiration behind your collection…

It is an amalgamation of various influences that I had from around the world because I live life like a nomad. I have used the traditional craftsmanship with the basic cuts in almost every single piece displayed. These pieces have evolved in terms of textile. Since I love the mix and match that goes hand-in-hand, I have experimented Tibetan vest for a jacket, kimono or capes with a saree and more. If one takes a closer look, all of my pieces are universal and have an ethnic touch to it. All my signature coats and jackets are on display which I have designed over the years. And these are in a way timeless pieces which can go from generation to another. My logo talks about elegance and beyond trend. This is the reason why people who buy my designs wear it for years because these designs do not stand by a particular season or trend. Antique textiles make up my collection which depict various cultures. Some people see Moroccan flavour in my work while others find it nomadic.

Is there a common thread that you work on across collections?

They all have a similar bloodline. Further majorly I work towards producing quality products with the ease of simplicity and a touch of something new. I like a certain form of structure and the little details on my designs are my signature.

Since you were among the first to run a boutique in the capital, what do you think of the current trend of increasing number of boutiques.

The evolution happened not only in terms of fashion but also the increasing population and pollution. About fashion, earlier it centered around salwar kurta and saree. While the privileged ones got a few options of western clothes from abroad. Now every nook and corner, I see a boutique. It may not be wrong to say the number of boutiques is increasing every day. And it’s no more about the knowledge of fashion and cuts rather a mere mode of business. For me, boutique meant introducing tailoring with self produce designs.

 Where, in your opinion, is the fashion industry heading in Nepal?

Today women in Nepal are highly influenced by television, India and the tourists. I believe, gradually women have started to find their own identity and that is reflected through their sense of style. At times I see women from the countryside and the way she puts things together is simply beautiful. I am not sure if she does it purposefully or not but it turns up to look authentic. I prefer to see that beauty rather than a copy of legging, a little top and that’s it. I think it takes time to build your own style. First of all, you need to know yourself, what you aspire to, and then find a way to meet that through clothing or your own behaviour.

Your designs blend eastern and western elements…

For one of my designs, I took menswear tunic and adapted it for the woman. Also the Nepali fabric, Dhaka is a pure work of art. When I saw this fabric 25 years ago, it was weaved with several traditional colours. Later I introduced them with monochrome tone and other casual shades of blue. I was one of the founders of Women Entrepreneur Association of Nepal where we started Dhaka with different shades and incorporated it into western clothes. I am glad that it is still on. I always believed in this fabric. Malmal and hand block print are my other favourites.

Do you design for men as well?

I design everything from my tablecloths to the way I dress. I believe, clothing is one of the expressions which reflects who I am as a person. Designing for me is the existence of harmony in my life. Currently my timeless pieces consist of clothing for women but otherwise, I have designed for men, pets, etc. I even made a travelling cabinet for a dog.

 What has your journey in the fashion world been like?

Nothing was easy at the beginning. I just graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and I just had the diploma and didn’t know a thing in New York. I learned things through practice. Nepal has been a pioneering place for me to make mistakes and learn. I feel very fortunate to be a part of Nepal’s fashion industry. It’s been very inspiring to be here and do things. My journey in Nepal has been like a marriage with many ups and downs. Load shedding was a major crisis which I dealt with. There were 16-17 hours of power cuts and this made us switch from electrical to paddle machines. It was a phase with no electricity, no diesel, but somehow we managed.

 Do creativity and business go hand-in-hand?

I don’t follow fashion; I do my own thing. And this passion has led me where I am today. I am more authentic with my creations and this is what people connect to and recognise about me. It is also one of my signatures. And I don’t copy simply because of the fact that I hate to produce things which already exist.

Future plans

I am trying to find a perfect place to showcase in the capital and will continue travelling. I am already selling many of my designs in various boutiques in New York.

Style Statement

5 essentials in a woman’s closet: Skirt, white shirt, a black jacket, a coat and scarf

One thing women should avoid while dressing up: Not to be in a hurry

An outfit which will never go out of style: A black dress

Current favourite pattern: Monochrome