Liju Cherian –
Sahar al Aufi is an Omani designer making her mark on the fashion scene. Married to Agostino Meli, an Italian husband, she strives to have fusion between Arabic and Italian designs.
Sahar says her aim is to have the best of both cultures. “My focus is to make Arab women look contemporary and stylish.” Her exclusive Italian fashion and style boutique named ‘Reflection’, operates at two prominent locations in Muscat.
Sahar chose the name ‘Reflection’ because she felt her business and designs reflect what exactly it has to offer. It radiates love, life and happiness. I believe what you have inside is what you reflect to the people around you. Having a happy life and sunshine enables me to reflect on my designs.”
“Having observed modern Italian designs closely, we are keen to get dresses which are trendy. My husband is from Milan and he has inspired me to get the best of the designs,” says Sahar.
To put Sahar al Aufi label on the global fashion scene is her ambitious plan. She has now set her mind to designing and to be involved on the global fashion scene.
Her brand name has been named as Melis after her husband. The names of all her three boys, are a blend of Arabic and Italian names. They are Aser Riccardo Meli, Aban Stefano Meli and the youngest Adaam Marco Meli, aged a year. Sahar plans to have a fusion of both Arabic and Italian designs. She says her aim is to have the best of both cultures. “My focus is to make Arab women look contemporary and stylish. This exactly is what I do since I always get some amount of the Italian designs in my boutique, as all my work is mix between pure Italian fabric and my Arabic European designs.”
Explains Sahar: “Garments communicate unspoken language, and sends messages to people to look at the beauty and the creation and this is what I love to do by mixing cultures together and have it all in a dress. My life around the world gives me the beautiful sense of realising my dream comes true by having the Arabic fusion with the Italian.”
Sahar launched her exclusive boutique, ‘Reflections’, at Oasis Mall in Al Khuwair in December last year. This was the second outlet of her brand while the first one opened in Al Mawaleh back in 2014.
According to her, Oman’s future in fashion industry looks bright. Adds Sahar: “People in Oman are always seeking to improve themselves in fashion, so by opening my boutique store, style is in every step of our lives. It can be in the way we dress or the way we talk or the way we live. Omanis are simple and humble by nature and they seek for the beauty in life.”
Though Sahar is based in Milan she frequently visits Muscat and also work from here. She admits being keen to go in for dresses which are trendy. Being based in Italy for the past 12 years has helped her to observe the fashion scene closely. Her husband from Milan has also inspired her to get the best of Italian designs. She also reads a lot about fashion and visits fashion shows regularly to keep abreast of changing styles. As managing director of the boutique, Sahar says, “the aim of the boutique is to fill the gap in the market, giving women the opportunity to own high-quality Italian-made clothes, shoes, bags and other accessories at reasonable prices.”
Sahar says the clothes she buys on her trips to Italy always get positive feedback from her friends. This really convinced her to open a boutique keeping up with the latest fashion trends, knowledge of local tastes and sensitivities in mind.
Apart from a selection of items imported from Italy, the boutique also features some of Sahar’s own creations as she sets upon to design shoes to be manufactured in Italy.
Since childhood, fashion was in her blood as she had a craze for anything bright.“I was so much interested in Moda and the latest trends spending hours in front of the television following the runway, the red carpet and thinking one day I will do the same. I started designing my dresses and also for my family and friends as well since an early age. Initially, I did all as a hobby before turning professional.”
“I spend months in Europe every year which gives me the chance to be updated with the latest. Also by following online gives you the possibility to see and to be in touch with many of the latest instantaneously.”
A strong woman who believes in herself she also comes from a family having strong business links. She considers her biggest virtue being imagination and to be pure and strong at the same time.
“I love to live a simple life surrounded by happy people who lend me positive energy and try to give my work the maximum.”
She loves to work with heavy embroidery work designed by her that can be used for weddings and evening wear. Her secret is her untiring work and hopes to get more people around the world appreciate the brand Sahar al Aufi as a global one. Her hobbies and interests relate to speaking different languages, reading, travelling and taking care of her kids on her own as much as she can without depending on the house helper.