An Interview With Engy Mahdy Founder of "OneandFour"
Engy Abdel-Moniem Mahdy El-Shorbagy
-where are you from?
I've always said I'm from earth, because I don't feel a belonging to one certain place. It doesn't bother me, I feel it makes me who I am.
But to get o the point, I'm Egyptian and I grew up in New Zealand. And I tend to move around at an average of 5 years.
-how long have you been designing for?
With intent, for about 7 years now.
But in my mind, I feel like I've been designing for as long as I've been aware.
-what drove you to start designing
I grew up with architect parents so design and all the culture that surrounds it, was a very normal and reoccurring topic around the dinner table. In fact, I studied architecture for a year before going to do my Degree in fashion design!.
My maternal grandparents were both in the clothing industry so this was trickled down through my mother. However, there was one prominent moment when I was 11, my older sister was getting married and I saw her getting her dress custom made. I told my mother I wanted my own dress made to wear to her wedding, at which point she told me if I wanted that, I had to go pick out my own fabric and design my own dress. It was such a beautiful experience for me. I found fabric that I loved, sketched something up and went through the whole process. I think at hat stage, I decided that I wanted to be a designer.
-what's your inspiration
My inspiration is everything and everyone. However, I find myself coming back to the human body over and over again, I'm so aware of the wonder that is our form, the inner and outer workings of it; the joints, the muscles; the colours and textures. I cant seem to get over this concept of "look into the universe and look into yourselves", which Is derived from a quranic verse. We are full of inspiration, endlessly.
-who's your favorite designer
I seem to gravitate always to designers with high technical abilities because I can relate to their process. I have so much respect for designers that understand every part of their craft and it shows. When a designer knows what they can create and how they can create it, there is so much more room for innovation and originality. That being said, some of my favourites are: Aitor Throup, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo.
-where would you see yourself in 5 years
Expanding my brand further than clothing, I've set myself up as "One andFour Studio" because I want it to be clear that this will go further than clothing. I appreciate all design and I'm already experimenting with jewelry and other types of accessories, which once I have a good understanding of, I will start producing.
-how is it doing what you're doing in dubai
It's actually pretty nice, there's a lot of room to grow as Dubai itself is still growing. So I think as designers in this region, we don't face all the hardships there are in the west or in Europe where small designers are having to compete with large established brands.
Opportunities are more at reach.
- what's next for you?
What's next, ideally I'd like to be focusing on the brand more than anything, allowing my life to feed it constantly and vice verse.
This is when I will start exploring the furthest ends of where this brand can go. I'm in it for the long term, so I'm in no rush and have no desire to rise too quick. Slow and steady is my game.