Wednesday February 21st, 2024
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Algeria’s Ilyes Ouali Finds Inspiration In the Human Form

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for this designer, the curves of the human body.

Ziyad El-Helbawy

“My love for fashion has been a lifelong passion ever since the tender age of 10 when I first picked up a sketchpad.”

The human form has long served as a wellspring of inspiration and the most intimate of muses. For Algerian designer Ilyes Ouali, the body's elegant contours provide fertile ground for his creative vision to take root. Since first picking up a sketchpad as a young boy, Ouali has harboured a deep fascination with capturing the beauty and fluidity of the human silhouette. This enduring interest in the interplay between form and function now finds expression through his debut 'Silhouette' bag collection.

Born in Algeria, Ouali grew up in a family immersed in sartorial crafts. With his mother and sister as his earliest influences, a young Ilyes watched those nearest and dearest to him excel in traditional embroidery. “It was truly a family affair,” Ouali tells SceneStyled.

This familial encouragement planted the seeds for Ouali to pursue his passion, leading him to relocate to London at the age of 22 to study fashion design at Regent's University. "I made the life-altering decision to follow my heart," Ouali explains. After graduating, he launched his eponymous womenswear label in 2017.

As his label evolved, Ouali's focus turned increasingly to concepts for accessories. "I've always harboured a deep fascination with sketching bags and jewellery," he shares. Only recently did he unveil his brand new bag design, named 'Silhouette' in homage to its source of inspiration. The collection represents Ouali's manifestation of the essence of his design philosophy through a study of the human form. 

“I seek to celebrate the beauty of every body, irrespective of shape, colour, or size. This fascination with the human form has been with me since childhood, and it continues to shape my work.” 

Ouali's 'Silhouette' bags exude refined minimalism with an undertone of sensuality. Created in neutral colours like black, white and nude as well as eye-catching neon hues, the curved oval silhouettes are both subtly chic yet speak bold statements, with shapes seamlessly complementing the female form.

The inspiration behind the collection comes to life through a stunning campaign that foregrounds the interplay between the bags and the body. Models effortlessly complement the bags' fluid shapes with graceful postures and polished movement. 

After earning a BA in Fashion Design from Regent's University London, Ouali captured attention as the winner of Fashion Star Arabia, "armed with my patterns and a genuine passion, it turned out to be the most memorable and life-altering experience." 

For years, the Algerian designer dedicated himself to creating ready-to-wear evening attire, with the support of family members. And while eveningwear remains part of the eponymous label’s offerings, the Silhouette collection marks a pivotal new chapter. 

As Ouali explains, "I’ve always harboured a deep fascination with sketching accessories, particularly bags and jewellery. My primary focus now lies in accessories, ‘Silhouette’ has become our main focus, receiving our undivided attention.”

As Ouali envisions the future, he finds excitement in the unknown. "In life and business alike, I adhere to the philosophy of not taking things too seriously and seizing every opportunity that comes my way," he says. While the Silhouette collection anchors his focus in the present, his willingness to embrace each moment with openness leaves room for whatever the future may hold.

But one thing we know for sure is that Ouali’s driving inspiration has, and always will be, the human body."