There’s a new designer in town, and even though she has a Z in her name, this is not one to be dismissed.
Say hello to Gizelle Begler. The American/Egyptian bombshell is a serious designer. Scrap that. She’s an artist. Graduating top of her class at Cornell University – the only Ivy League school to have a fashion department – Gizelle proved just how serious she is about making fashion happen in the most spectacular way, continuing her education at Accademia Italiana in Florence, Italy, focusing on couture creation and fashion illustration. Impressed? You haven’t heard half of it yet…
Serious and passionate about her work, it wasn’t long before Gizelle was snapped up by some of the world’s most coveted designer brands. Can you say Giorgio Armani and Tommy Hilfiger? With all this experience under her belt, at the tender age of 23 she was scouted as head designer at the historical New York-based dressmaker, Sugar Plum, and her designs were sold at the Empire State’s most famous department stores, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom, making her one of Egypt’s most important fashion exports to date. And even this wasn’t enough for the go-getter who recently took the leap and established her own brand right here in Egypt. Having already dressed some of the region’s most powerful businesswomen, Saudi aristocracy and Kuwaiti royalty, Gizelle Couture is soon to be the name on everybody’s lips. Even more impressed? Just wait until you read our interview below:
Are you Gizelle like the model or like the deer?
I’m Gizelle like the super-amazing American-Egyptian fashion-designer-that’s-based-out-of-Cairo woooooooh!
Will you marry me?
Haha…for my weight in gold and an 8 carat rock, let the nuptials commence! On second thought, I might also be swayed by a giant painting of an electric-violet hippopotamus commissioned by ‘The Sad Panda’ guy…or girl?
Why couture and why in the Middle East?
I studied couture— it’s what I focused on at Cornell. Fashion is like medicine, to truly understand what you’re doing, you need to be specialised in one particular area. I’ve found that women in the Middle East love exclusive fashion. They want to feel that the gown they’re wearing has not only never been seen before, but that it was made especially for them.
Arab women also have a taste for luxurious fabrics and heavily embellished pieces…being of similar origins, I too love such things. When designing for Middle Eastern women, I really know how to deliver what it is they’re looking for. They appreciate what I do and I give them what they’ve always dreamed of—we understand one another.
Will it ever be socially acceptable for dinosaurs to wear couture dresses?
Absolutely! Couture is an art-form and art is for everyone! Here’s a sketch….
What is your favourite piece and why?
I love this piece that I made for my collection, Dream a Little Dream of Me. I always refer to it as the “sparkle-fluff” dress because that’s exactly how I see it. It’s full of whimsy and spontaneity, while still holding on to the classically feminine tu-tu silhouette.
“Sparkle-fluff” is made of a ruched silk organza over a heavily sequined silver fabric….then when everything seems to be under control , the bottom left skirt explodes into a plethora of pleated silk organza, tulle, and raw-silk—it’s somewhat of a controlled chaos.
How has the film Cool Runnings inspired your next collection?
Ha! I thought you’d never ask…
So, with my next collection ACTUALLY being inspired by pastel fondant cakes…um….that will make my dresses COOL and you will come RUNNING to see how we made gowns look like cake!
You talk a lot about how you’re an artist, rather than a designer… Can you clarify the distinction and how that makes your designs different?
Yes, I definitely consider myself an artist first and foremost. Designers often work within the limits of designing wearable garments for the everyday market. However we go above and beyond that, by sculpting and molding fabric into spectacular wearable art-forms. Instead of paint or pastels, I use textiles… they are my medium of expression and with them I like to push boundaries and take risks.
We also include things in our pieces that often times, cannot be replaced—antique brooches from the 1940s, beads taken off of dresses from the 70s, cuttings of fabric found in antique stores and in the corners of old warehouses…not to mention hand-painted silk by local artisans. The list is endless.
Basically, we don’t like to put limits on what can be created…as is the case with art, ANYTHING is possible.
Don’t you think it’s a risk to stop working with established designers and branch out on your own? How are you coping with that?
Yes…I guess it could be considered a little risky. But I have confidence in myself and my work …these last two years have been quite successful for me designing custom pieces for clients around the world, hence the reason why I’m now branching out to the Middle East. I’m also insanely excited to finally get the opportunity to design in Egypt as Egypt has always been a very dear place to me.
Your designs are very intricate and extravagant. Who is the Gizelle Couture woman? Do you think your designs might alienate some people?
The “Gizelle Couture woman” is any woman, of any origin, who has dreamed of her wedding/engagement gown (or any perfect gown) since childhood. She must have an appreciation for art and beauty and an interest in working on a personal level with a couture designer. This is how we realize the princess dream each and every day.
Noooo…my designs shouldn’t alienate anyone! On the contrary, my work is ALL ABOUT the client, her figure, her personality, taste and vision. This is not an ordinary dress…these pieces are really, really special…I can’t stress that enough. Sometimes we’ll sit and bead a dress for days because our client decides she wants a particular beading design that carries meaning to her. And as far as cost goes, I try to work with people’s budgets as much as I can, but there are some things such as quality of fabric and over-all craftsmanship that I just cannot compromise.
Finish the sentence: “I see myself as the next…”
Ahhh, it’s so hard for me to compare my work to others, I’d rather change it to, I see myself as the FIRST…
And the answer would be “Egyptian-American couture-artist”.
Did you know that Fuze Bar in Fairmont Heliopolis has a buy FOUR beers, get one FREE offer?
No…But now I do! Thank you.