For the creative types, inspiration is everywhere. In the Arab world, more and more designer are rediscovering their heritage. Whether reimagining traditional garments, using local materials, or incorporating visual elements from the past, many up-and-coming fashion and design powerhouses are embracing the region’s rich history to cultivate the future. One successful example of heritage-inspired brands is the Egyptian brand Mahinaz Elmessiry.


Mahinaz Elmessiry started as an interior designer in Paris. She comes from a family of creatives; her mother was a fashion designer, and her uncle is Abdel Wahab Elmessiry, a renowned author and scholar. From an early age, Mahinaz was a lover of art, and she recalls her grandmother being one of the first people to play the piano for her. Mahinaz studied Arts at Ecole du Louvre and Interior design at Greta des Arts Appliqués. Upon returning to Egypt in 2001, Mahinaz worked on many residential, commercial and retail design projects. In 2012, Mahinaz launched her eponymous brand. Mahinaz Elmessiry’s fashion and home accessories lines offer a functional celebration of Egypt’s diverse heritage. 

After seeing her work at the highly-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), we talked to Mahinaz Elmessiry about her brand, heritage preservation and the art that drives it all. 


What elements have you used from Egyptian heritage in your designs?  

“Egyptian heritage has been a wellspring of inspiration for my fashion collections, encompassing a diverse range of influences from ancient Egypt to Nubia and Siwa. From the timeless elegance of ancient Egyptian clothing, motifs and patterns have been reimagined into modern silhouettes where each piece is an homage to our ancestors.” 


Working with traditional artisans, elements from the Nubian culture find their place in Mahinaz’s collections with their colours and striking geometric patterns. With its unique oasis culture, Siwa also contributes a bohemian chic touch through flowing fabrics and intricate embroidery. “In the future, I would like to explore Sinai and expand the Falahin collection,” said Mahinaz. “I would also love to explore Talli embroidery and khayamiya for the Islamic collection. My brand seeks to tell a story of cultural continuity and transformation by interweaving these influences,” she added.


A model wearing ancient Egyptian-inspired clothing designed by Mahinaz Elmissiry


What is the secret to heritage-inspired design that fits everyday modern life? 

“The secret lies in striking a balance between tradition and functionality. I keep my designs simple and versatile. Heritage-inspired pieces should be adaptable to different occasions and settings. When items are practical for everyday wear, they allow people to connect with their heritage. I use my designs as a means of storytelling. I try to share the history and significance of the cultural elements I have incorporated. To ensure that the designs are practical and suited to the demands of modern life, I include pockets, zippers, and other functional elements essential for everyday wear.” 

A selection of Mahinaz Elmessiry’s dresses, robes and scarves on display in Cairo


Could you share insights into the challenges and rewarding moments you’ve experienced since launching Mahinaz ElMessiry?  

“Establishing my fashion brand has been challenging and deeply rewarding. One of my most significant challenges was establishing a unique brand identity. It required relentless dedication and unwavering self-belief.  


However, despite these challenges, the rewarding moments have made every effort worthwhile. Seeing my vision come to life in each fashion collection and witnessing people express their individuality and heritage through my designs has been immensely fulfilling. Receiving positive customer feedback and watching my brand gain recognition and loyalty has been a source of great pride. Seeing the collections worn by princes, ambassadors, and ministers was a blessing. Finally, travelling with my work to different countries to show our rich heritage was a great exposure.” 

When Mahinaz is not working on her collections or showcasing them worldwide, she lectures on art history and Egyptian cultural heritage at places such as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina or teaches local communities arts and crafts. If you want to learn more about Mahinaz’s work, follow her on Instagram.