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Egyptian Designers Behind Okhtein Win Vogue Fashion Prize and Instagram Goes Crazy

Aya and Mounaz Abdel Raouf, the sisters behind local accessories brand Okhtein just won the DDFC/Vogue Fashion Prize last night for their incredible work on the label.

Staff Writer

Egyptian Designers Behind Okhtein Win Vogue Fashion Prize and Instagram Goes Crazy

Last night, there was a veritable explosion on our feeds as Egyptian sartorial sisters Mounaz and Aya Abdel Raouf, the design duo behind accessories label Okhtein, were named the winners of the DDFC (Dubai Design & Fashion Council)/ Vogue Fashion Prize. In partnership with Farfetch, an international fashion website that carries designer attire from around the world, the highly esteemed prize is monetarily valued at $250,000 and comes with the opportunity for the brands to sell their Spring 2017 collections on Farfetch, receive high level mentorship, and an advertising campaign. 

The prize is now in its second year and at its core revolves around providing a platform to catapult promising talents from across the Arab world and this year, they teamed up with the newly launched Vogue Arabia for further allow light to be shed on creative and inventive designers around the region. “Following the historic, digital-first launch of Vogue Arabia, the Fashion Prize is shining a new light on emerging fashion talent from the Arab world and continues a long-standing commitment around the world from Vogue to support local ecosystem development,” says Shashi Menon, CEO and Publisher of Vogue Arabia.

The two sisters behind design house Okhtein, who were featured in CairoScene's 15 of 2015 as some of the most influential fashion trendsetters to come out of Egypt in over a decade, impressed the selection committee with their ability to appeal to and capture the attention of both eastern and western customers seamlessly, and their accessories label nabbed the prize along with Palestinian ready-to-wear designer Reema Al Banna of Reemami.

Okhtein, which launched in 2014, rapidly garnered a fanbase in Egypt and was soon popping up in stores and on Instagram feeds overseas, until that moment when Emma Watson was spotted donning the bag, cementing the label as an international success and making Egyptians collectively lose their minds. The girls initially drew inspiration from their own city, translating the architecture and streets into a sartorial vernacular. "We really wanted our inspiration to be from Egypt and not from abroad. Cairo is literally the most romantic city," Mounaz told CairoScene in a 2014 interview. "We can’t always see it but if you look beyond all the traffic and trash, it really is."

Since their inception, the duo have released a myriad of campaigns for their inventive bags including Weaving WavesTake Me to Bau-Land, and Future Nostalgia, the latter seeing them team up with the Egyptian Autistic Society, ArtsMart, and Educate Me, raising awareness for autism and underprivileged kids. They've also released a collection of quirky, eclectic beach towels, launched a fashion entrepreneurship workshop in Egypt, and last summer, partnered with two NGOs and a village in Fayoum to manufacture their bags. “We make it a point to find good artisans and unemployed people who are super talented, to manage and give them work. It's in our philosophy,” they explained to CairoScene.

Their latest accomplishment nabbing the DDFC/Vogue Fashion Prize takes them one step closer to achieving unprecedented success as Egyptians excelling in the fashion sphere. "We are trying to show everyone that it's ok to dream big. If you really work your ass off, you can accomplish everything you want,” they told CairoScene in 2015 interview.