Young Somali Designer Melds Culture and Fashion


ZamZam Duale and models

By Abderazzaq Noor

Somalilandsun – Life in the diaspora has allowed many young Africans to flourish. ZamZam Duale, a Somali-Australian designer, who is only 19, is already taking giant strides at this tender age.

ZamZam, 19, made her fashion debut recently at the So’maal festival, a unique and creative event that allowed young people to express what it means to be a Somali-Australian.

“I would do anything to support my Somali community. Though I have worked in fashion shows before, to have and be at my own was something I could not pass! The feeling of seeing my first show at the So’maal festival in Melbourne come together on the runway was just wonderful. It was an experience I will never forget,” says ZamZam.

ZamZam uses her Somali heritage for inspiration to create stunning and contemporary clothes. Gracefully flowing chiffons, vibrant colours and a touch of alindi, a traditional hand-woven Somali fabric distinguished by variously coloured stripes, are some of the hallmarks of this young designer.

Another source of inspiration for ZamZam is Zuhair Murad, a world renown Lebanese designer, whose lavish creations and sensational colours draw the rich civilisations and culture of ancient Egypt and Greece.

The theme for the show at the So’maal festival was Somali goddess. ZamZam is a stickler for details designed twenty-four evening dresses worn by beautiful models from the Horn of Africa. “It was hard work as I had to cut the patterns and sew. It took me a full day to complete each dress. While ZamZam enjoys making evening dresses, her dream is to design wedding dresses.

ZamZam’s interest in fashion started when she was in high school. “We had a class where we had to choose from courses such as cooking, sports, computer technology or fashion. I had always loved fashion so it was an easy choice for me. The very first class was enough to convince me that this was the path I had to take,” adds ZamZam.

ZamZam is currently undertaking a three-year Advanced Diploma of Fashion and Technology at the Melbourne School of Fashion. While her studies help to shape her evolving fashion sense, ZamZam already knows what sort of designer she would like to be:

“I think fashion can be quite lazy today – people tend to wake up and just throw on a t-shirt and jeans and that is it. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I often think of the 1920′s when people would have many dress changes throughout the day; morning wear, evening wear, and an outfit for the night. Each piece of clothing was appropriate for the event and time. I’d like to see more of the passion of the “Roaring Twenties” coming back,” says ZamZam.

As to her next steps, ZamZam has equally clear thoughts. With her first fashion show under her belt, she intends to get a label before her next fashion show in late September 2013, and looks forward to having a successful brand and her own store in the future.

Find out more about ZamZam’s work on Facebook (ZamZam Duale) or Instagram: Cicibrown555.