“The creative adult is the child who survived,” – Ursula K. Le Guin
Ali Al Bana is a real life Bahraini testament to this. The 16- year old talent has done nothing but flourish from the tender age of 6 when his appetite for fashion and design was ignited from the encouragement of his mother and grandmother after a gown-shopping trip to Saudi Arabia. “Randomly I just drew this dress and showed it to my grandma and I was like your gonna wear this to the next wedding,” explained Ali.
“She said that there was a mini talent in me. So I kept on sketching.”
“She (his grandmother) believed I had so much potential, and it was because of her and my mothers support I decided to give it a shot,” Said Ali.
I had the chance to sit down with the talented young avid blogger/designer – who incidentally came adorned with his signature spikes on both his shoulders and shoes as expected- to learn more about the inspirations, the drawbacks and how the self-taught designer managed to elevate and maintain his talents at such a young age.
With the encouragement of his seamstress grandmother, Ali’s love for creating fashion grew. So much so that when the self-taught designer was 9 he begged his parents for a sewing machine, which he eventually got by the age of 13.
“When I was 13, I ordered this book online called “S.E.W, by Diana Rupp”.
The book gave Ali a broad idea on sewing techniques and measurements.
“After learning more about the world of sewing I realized I was getting way ahead of myself. It was so complicated!” he exclaimed.
And even with this staunch amount of information, Ali eventually learned the basics of sewing that entail shortening hemlines and basic sewing techniques and later decided to focus on his fashion sketches by joining a few fashion sketch classes.
“To be honest if it wasn’t for this book called Contemporary fashion Illustrations by Naoki Watanabe, and at the time I spent actually sketching the exact sketches and working on my own sketches I would have not gotten this far,” he said.
In 2010, Ali became the youngest designer to take part in the Bahrain Fashion Week event. His debut at the event shot Ali in the spotlight after winning the Emerging Designer of the Gulf 2010 at the age of 14!
“When I won, I couldn’t believe it!” he said.
“My whole family was so happy and I remember my baby sister was just screaming my name,” he said while laughing.
Through his contacts, which mainly work in the fashion industry in Dubai, Ali has been told repeatedly that he knows too much.
“For me what I’ve done so far doesn’t feel like anything,” he admitted.
“I don’t feel that satisfied with myself. The trick is to never be satisfied, to keep improving yourself.”
“It’s a huge industry and I want to know more,” He said excitedly.
After his success with the BFW win, he had the chance to create his own line with a sponsor. Sadly, things did not go as planned for the young designer who found himself demotivated and spiraled to the extent that he gave up sketching for an entire year.
“After that I promised myself never to give up,” He said. “So to motivate myself I began blogging.”
“And other than that I began creating mood boards.”
Ali’s mood boards contained images of designs he loved and 34 of his very own sketches based on the board.
“Just the sense of you looking at designers and fashions shows abroad, like Paris, Milan, New York, it’s a very moving feeling you get when you see them and imagine yourself being in their shoes.”
Ali’s main inspiration was seeing designers, their work, and studying them while aiming to eventually be where they are.
Ali officially launched his blog after the encouragement of an online friend while re-blogging some of his design sketches and photo’s. In September of 2011 he launched his first blog, which he later renamed as “The Sartori Ali.”
In the Sartori Ali he interviews fashion designers, features on designs he likes, fashion events he’s attended, and so much more.
“Most blogs are mostly just pictures with little blurbs and captions, and most people have told me not to write too much because some people might not bother reading it,” he explained.
“But I found that there are allot who do appreciate the effort and time I put into my writing. They can see the passion in the words.”
Aside from blogging, Ali is currently working on T Shirt designs for next years market 338 where he will showcase and sell his turquoise leather accented embroidered garments.
Before wrapping up, I couldn’t help but find out more about the aspiring designer’s future plans.
“After graduation (from high school) I want to go to Dubai and get an internship in a magazine and then go to Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, taking a foundation year and moving to fashion design,” he explained.
“Through that I see myself starting up my brand.”
At this young age Ali’s possibilities are endless, especially considering his immense passion and knowledge of the fashion industry and everything that goes into creating a fashion line and brand. Although this might be the most cliché line ever used, but for Ali; the sky is most definitely the limit.
WORDS: BADRIYA AL-MAHMEED
Images courtesy of Ali Al Bana.
Visit Ali’s blog click here, or follow him on twitter @alisylviaalbana, or Instagram @alialbana