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Body by Design

Breaking the Boundaries of Fashion

Have you ever had that horrible dream where you walk into a party and you and the girl to your right are wearing the exact same dress? Let’s take that further and turn it into a “Who wore it best?” competition. Cruel, I know. Seriously though, we’ve all been there, we’ve all seen 2 girls wearing the exact same dress, one radiating and the other just existing. Why does that happen? How is it that the same piece of clothing can look totally different on 2 different people?



Well, it turns out fashion doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Fashion doesn’t just exist in clothes. It’s a state of mind, the way you carry yourself through life, your thoughts, attitude, energy. It’s expressed in everything you do but very few actually see it that way.

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We live in a highly exhibitionist world. The world of fashion is ladled with messages of “look at me, look at me” and “buy me, buy me”. You have to carry a thousand dollar bag, or wear a certain type of dress or Louboutin shoes to impress. These days, as Diane Von Furstenberg puts it, “The world is completely product polluted, too much everything, in every colour, in every price,” so what would you bring to the table that’s different?



I used to be a follower of trends for many, many years. I was always shopping the latest collections until one day, I stood in front of my closet and didn’t want to wear any of it. None of it looked good anymore. None of it felt like me anymore. When that happens, it’s time to reevaluate. What makes you, you? Is it the clothes you spend hours each week shopping for online? Or is it the mind and body that you’ve been taking for granted? What if fashion wasn’t about the clothes you wear but rather the skin you’re in and the body that carries us through life? How would that change the game?



I’m here to tell you, it’s never actually been about the clothes you put on. It’s about how you feel in the clothes and the energy you bring forward. If you start with the source which is you, not the clothes, then it’s a very different story you’ll be telling. What is the story you choose to tell?

You can slip into the simplest black dress and look like a million dollars.

Here’s my story:


I haven’t always been good to myself. I used to live a sedentary life, sitting at a desk for 10 hours a day and walking only to the car and back. Sitting on a couch at home eating chips and salsa was the regular. Until I realised that this lifestyle wasn’t a choice but the unfortunate side effect of not following my body’s instinct: it’s natural need to keep moving. In staying still, I drained my body of its energy and cut it at the source.


So I started to listen to my body. I went to boxing, spinning, barre, yoga; trying everything under the sun to figure out what it is my body wanted. With every workout, my body craved it more. It was finally being heard. The way I saw exercise started to change. Instead of seeing it as a burden, it was a celebration of what I can do, how far I can push myself. Eventually I found a workout that I love – barre, I’m looking at you – and I stuck to it.


Finding a workout you love helps you start to see your body as a source of fun. Just like when we were kids, running around the playground, riding bicycles, jumping on trampolines. That shouldn’t change because we’re older. Moving is fun, exercise is fun! You just need to find what is fun for you.


Your body is made to move. Follow that instinct, that urge to walk, to run, to dance, to jump. Your body wants to be as fit and strong and beautiful as you want to be. The more you exercise, the stronger you become, physically and mentally. Seeing your body change through exercise brings a feeling of accomplishment that makes you feel good about your body and yourself. Confidence will radiate from the inside out, and accentuate your fashion statement into a different realm. So you can slip into the simplest black dress and look like a million dollars. A powerful look starts with a powerful mindset, a beautiful look starts with a beautiful mindset.


Your body is the source. It’s the vessel of your life. It’s with you through good times and bad. It’s our duty to be good to it and nourish it. When you’re good to it, it’s good to you. Your mindset changes, your energy shifts, you become radiant, confident. So here’s your chance to design your life around your body. How would you build it?


What my Aura Reading told me about my life


Straight of the bat, I need to come clean with you. You’re about to read a story about what most would consider a questionable experience so you need to know the lens through which it was penned. I love new-age everything! I enjoy the occasional chakra reading, read my horoscope on the regular, keep crystals in my home and burn sage when I’m feeling overwhelmed. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard about a little place in Chinatown, New York that does aura photography and readings.

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Built on slightly more solid ground than chakra readings, aura photography was invented in the 1930s by a Russian electrical engineer, Semyon Kirlian. It is a process that visually captures the electromagnetic energy field given off by a person or object. The energy field, otherwise known as an aura, represents our state of mind and is constantly changing to reflect that. Basically, you have a big glow of light coming out of you.


On a scorching hot Friday afternoon in New York City, I dragged my ever-so-sceptical friends down to Chinatown to have our auras read. Magic Jewelry is a little shop that sells crystals and has a small photo studio set-up with a basic chair and white background to shoot your aura picture. With only two aura-readers working in the store, we patiently waited for those ahead of us to finish their readings. As we did, many more women trickled in and the excitement kicked in. “This must be good”, I thought to myself, “with so many people lining up to have their auras read.”


As my turn came, I sat down on a little chair and was asked to place my hands on metal fingerprints on the boxes to my side. The hand sensors measure the energy field around your body & the camera registers the different currents as different colours in the photo. As my aura picture was coming through it revealed bright hues of red and yellow emanating around me. It was finally time for my aura reading.

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According to the lady at the counter, the way it works is that your energy moves left to right so the left side of the photograph represents your past, the right side your future, and the middle your present. The energy is emitted by your chakras, which are the energy points in your body, and changes every 21 days, depending on what is happening in your life and how you’re feeling.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with chakras, there are 7 basic chakras along your spine each associated with a colour and an aspect of consciousness.


The reading started off with a few generic comments, “you’re a positive person.” “you’re tired and need a break.” But eventually she got to the good stuff. She talked about how I had been grappling with the idea of a fresh start recently. I want to change careers, I want to move forward but I’m stuck on what direction to take. She continued telling me that I’m surrounded by people with lots of opinions on the matter, each pushing me to take a direction they think would be best but none of which feel right to me. Most importantly, she said, you know what you want to do. You know what you want for yourself, your career and your life, you just need to do it.


There’s the catch. I’ve always been a little slow to start. I know what I want to do. I know what’s right for me but I struggle to take that first step, and the next one, and the one after that. Instead, I listen to the majority and do what they think is best, which is probably why I had been struggling with this for so long. I have to admit she was pretty spot-on. She told me exactly what I needed to hear to help catapult me in the right direction.

You know what you want to do. You know what you want for yourself, your career and your life, you just need to do it.

The experience gave me a lot of insight into my current state of mind but is it for everyone? Probably not. I think it’s helpful for those who would like some guidance or clarity on their current life or career situation. If you are looking for it though, aura readings could be a good chance to gain some awareness and maybe learn something new about yourself.

Meet Our Trend Expert


So excited to announce our newest member of the Sawwad family, Zaina Nasser, aka Z !!! She’ll be joining us as our in-house trend expert, keeping her finger on the pulse of the latest fashion & cultural trends through a unique & holistic lens. 

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Zaina comes with a strong background in the advertising industry, starting her journey with Saatchi & Saatchi in Canada. In 2011, she moved to the UAE and joined TBWA managing brands such as Royal Opera House Muscat, Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, and twofour54.

Her work focused on inspiring the youth and planting the seed for unique content creation in the region. Her most recent project was with Apple as a trend and local market expert, advising on content and local communication strategy. 

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls

Joseph Campbell

A Dreamer’s Shortcut to Success


We now live in a changed world that favors the dreamers. This world is demanding new ideas, new ways of doing things, new leaders, new inventions, new methods of teaching, new methods of marketing, new books, new literature, new ideas for still and moving images.


As dreamers, we already possess two unique qualities that put us ahead of the game: Passion and an unbounded imagination.

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But dreamers should also remember that greatest visionaries of the world always had the ability harness their dreams. They put into practical use, the intangible, unseen forces of unborn opportunity, and converted those impulses of thought into the modern world in which we live in today.


This is a journey of manifesting success on your own terms and awakening to your own greatness. So how do you know that you are on the right path when venturing into unchartered territory?


There are definitive ways of making sure you get the results you desire in the fastest way possible:

This is a journey of manifesting success on your own terms and awakening to your own greatness.
  1. Turn your dreams into your biggest assets: Get very clear on what it is you want. Do not bog yourself down with the “hows”. Just focus on defining your dreams. It’s time to put that marvelous imagination to work! What would you do if money wasn’t an object? Would you travel? Would you buy a new car or even a new house? What would that house look like? Would you spend your time cooking? painting? or lounging by the beach? Would you start your own entity? What would you have it specialize in? What would YOU do? This is the first key to success! You have to have a dream, a very clear picture of what it is you are after and a burning desire for its achievement.

Is this the future of fashion?

A Designer's Perspective

Do you ever wonder if Ralph Lauren would make it if he started out as a fashion designer today?


Think about it for a moment: this was a New York high school kid who would sell handmade ties to fellow students for a $7 mark up. Nobody had heard of Ralph Lauren, and nobody was interested in carrying his non-existent brand. His “creations”, which were limited to a single wide tie design and a big dream, were initially rejected by Bloomingdales because Lauren refused to remove his name from them. But he went on to be the head of a 7.9 billion global empire.

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Fast forward 50 years. Could this happen again? Or have the demands of mass market consumption put a bullet in the head of the risk-taking, rule-bending, game-changing dreamers?


Do the stringent requirements of multiple yearly collections and predicated seasonal trends undermine the grassroots approach necessary for creative fashion geniuses to thrive – or is there still room that can be carved out in the industry to incubate their creative magic?

Fashion will slowly relinquish the endless restricting bombardment and seek refuge in small artisanal houses

Fashion is one of the few industries out there that seamlessly combines the power of art and commercialization under one title. Just as it is true with any art form, fashion is meant to be enjoyed, to intrigue and to ignite a sense of empowerment in its owner.


We all know that fashion does not exist in a vacuum, it never did. And now that statement is true more than ever. Embracing a sense of zeitgeist – which literally translates into the spirit of time – is a necessity for any designer. The more attune the designer is with the changes that are taking place around us, the more that designer can make an impactful presence in the market. And considering how saturated this particular market is, I’d say that that is a skill few can survive without.


The gap between true fashion and mass consumerism of clothing is growing and it’s time for each designer to pick which side of the line they choose to stand on. The latter will continue to grow in manufacturing houses that run on low margins, high volumes and pressurized timelines that stifle the emergence of the creative mind. While fashion will slowly relinquish the excess baggage and endless restricting bombardment and seek refuge in small artisanal houses, where the freedom to create and experiment has not been stifled.


The atelier, or workshop, or whatever you wish to call your creative haven, will reign again as the incubator of creative magic. This is where all the great brands began, from Ralph Lauren to Hermès, they all had humble beginnings that paid little or no attention to the market trends, but rather created their own by perfecting their craft at hand, one craft at a time, till they achieved their signature expression of what fashion meant to them and the strong message that they wanted to convey to their consumers.


So what does this all mean to current designers and aspiring designers? Only by freeing ourselves from the regulated standards, placed upon us by the industry players as a whole, will we be able to experience the essence of inspired creation, aka, art. That is what this industry was intended for in the first place. This is why we chose to enter into this world that embraces the crazy dreamers. The crazier the better! Creativity is fun, experimenting is fun, seeing how far you can push an idea and watching the sparkle of joy that it gives to another is the utmost fun! Why stifle such beauty? Why apply layers upon layers of redundant guidelines? It’s time to shed all these layers and go back to the pure quintessence of what fashion was intended to be, an expression of frivolous passion and unapologetic wearable creativity.

My first TV interview !!!

Sawwad Fashion founder sits with Nabila

I have to admit, seeing yourself on TV for the first time is a little weird …but wonderfully exciting at the same time!


I chatted with Nabila on her show “You & Nabila” on winter fashion trends, Fashion Forward and my continuous love affair with faux fur (highlighting the faux factor of course).


Although I’m originally Egyptian, talking about fashion in Arabic is still a very rare opportunity for me, so I decided to go all out and have fun with it all. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Lots of Love

Salma Awwad interview on "You & Nabila"

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