Iâ€™m Afaf, a 21 year old fashion designer living in New York City pursuing my goals and chasing my biggest dreams. The usual response I receive after an introduction is â€œwhatâ€™s a â€˜fafâ€™?â€ Allow to me to explain this and how I ended up in such a glorious arrangement.
Imagine growing up in the deep-fried-donut-burger South, and briefly in Egypt, with a diva, goddess-of-gaudy mother; two older brothers who I swear must have secretly and unintentionally inspired the “geek chic” movement; and a father absorbed in the textile industry.
With the guidance of my momâ€™s glamour, I was naturally the most extravagant and outlandishly dressed kid compared to my conservative classmates. Because of her, my wardrobe consisted of velvet dusters, flowers for my hair, gold bangles and rings, denim embellished with glittery butterflies, along with those hideous woven elastic pant outfits with the coordinating tops all of us 90s babies were guilty of wearing. I will never forget the reaction and praise I would get from my friends when I was wearing what they were yearning but afraid to do out of fear of being judged. That attention from my classmates fed my dreams of becoming a designer and being able to provoke that same excitement and awe from people through fashion.
With just the clothes and accessories we adorn ourselves with, we have the ability to make a statement, a lasting impression of who we are, our imagination, creativity (and sometimes our bank accounts) without saying a word to all the passing strangers or soon-to-be friends. As a result, my mother is the inspiration for all the glitter, glam, and statement pieces I own.
My brothers nurtured my inner tomboy and geek. When I wasnâ€™t playing with the Barbies I hid under my bed out of paranoia that all my brothersâ€™ friends would think I was too girly to hang with the boys; I was playing video games, reading comics and shooting hoops with them. That is the root for my obsession with comic book heroes and masculine, rugged fashion for women that is prevalent throughout my wardrobe – that and the fact that every girl NEEDS at least one bad-to-the-bone Alexis biker jacket, beanie, and a pair of Dr. Martens for those effortlessly sexy coffee shop days.
It was my father that inspired my polished professional side. He was always pushing me to be proper, educated and well-spoken, scolding me for every â€œumâ€ and teenage eye roll I gave him. With the pressure from him to always excel itâ€™s no wonder I have a closet full of pressed wide leg trousers, pencil skirts, and my signature Alice + Olivia pointed shoulder blazer.
All these contradictory elements of girly glamour, slack tomboy, and polished professional resulted in the chameleon wardrobe I now own. Who I am is just a matter of who I want to be whenever Iâ€™m facing my closet.