In His Shoes: Lomar's designer Christophe Beaufays

Exclusive Interview  By Linah Hashmi


After 8 years of studying fashion in Belgium and France, and having worked another 10 in Fashion Houses in Paris, as a Senior Designer, Art Director, and probably his most important and longest one as Senior Designer and close assistant of THE Jean Paul-Gaultier, this Belgian Fashion Designer & now Head Designer of LOMAR Saudi Arabia, is the first and only western Designer to design for the “thobe industry” in the Middle East! He has taught Fashion Design to students in Belgium, has been the Director of Fashion Design Master classes during the summer at the PARSONS NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN in New York and lectured at many other workshops in different important American Universities (San Francisco, Dallas, Oklahoma,…).

Read on for my exclusive interview with  the brilliant CHRISTOPHE BEAUFAYS

Christophe Beaufays, Head Designer of LOMAR thobes.

From Europe to Middle East, what brought you to Saudi Arabia? And how/when did you start designing at Lomar?

My passion for Arab culture and strong will to make changes in my life made me want to travel to Arabic countries such as Yemen, Morocco, Oman and I finally made my big move to Dubai in September 2012 as the Art Director of the ESMOD-FRENCH FASHION UNIVERSITY GROUP. My mission was to increase the creative level of the school by managing a team of 5 teachers, controlling the quality of the work of more than 50 students and teaching the final year students to help them to create their first collection. It was in Dubai where an unexpected meeting with Loai Nassem, the founder of LOMAR, convinced me to join his team and to live a completely new experience in Saudi Arabia. My dream was to have the possibility to mix both my knowledge in Fashion and my love for the Arab culture. Loai Nassem offered me the best opportunity to live that dream, working in a very close collaboration with him and his wife Mona Al Haddad, the Director of the Design Dept. This year was the most exciting and enjoyable work experience I had in my life…Al Hamdulillah …


I’ve also read that you’ve worked with THE Jean Paul Gaultier? Tell us about it!

The first time I met JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER was during a famous Fashion contest in France where he awarded me a Prize. Few years later he hired me to become his Senior Designer and his main Assistant, that allowed me to work closely with him on all the ready-to-wear lines (women and men) and on the Haute Couture collections. I’ve worked for him for more than 6 years which means about 50 collections! Needless to say those were 6 amazing years, and even though sometimes it was a bit tough, I had the chance to have a very good relation and artistic connection with Jean-Paul and he is one of the best mentors I have had for sure, especially for the Haute Couture collections. I was the only one allowed to create 3 or 4 outfits entirely from scratch, from A to Z for every Haute Couture collection and assisted him on the rest of the models …this is a great privilege that very few Designers have experienced and I am truly lucky to be one of those few!

Tell us about the new concept of Lomar’s limited edition winter thobe 

Every winter Lomar proposes capsule collections of thobes made of wool fabric especially for the part of the kingdom where winter can be very cold (Riyadh, Abha,..). Also this season for the first time some beautiful coats (perfectly adapted to the cut and the shape of the thobes) and homemade scarves are going to be displayed in some of our shops. Some designs are very unique especially the one that I’m wearing (see pictures below). It s a collar-less short sleeves polo in wool jersey with the cut and details of the top part similar to that of a standard thobe, worn over the thobe. 1. The 2 pieces can be worn together as a winter thobe outdoors, or 2. you can just wear the thobe without the polo to stay comfortable at home or 3. you can just wear the polo with a pair of pants (so you can travel with a polo that has a touch of the Saudi thobe.) Its a very playful, stylish and unique design!

Lomar’s winter Polo thobe – a unique and playful design!

Your unconventional designs have taken the Saudi thobe and Lomar to a new fashion era. Who would have thought you could be this creative and fashionable with a thobe! How would you best describe Lomars thobes and what is special about it or what sets it apart from other thobe brands?

Truly when I came and started to work at Lomar, the Brand was already the most important Thobe Design company in the Kingdom and among the top 20 of the Saudi Fast Growth list, MashaAllah… The founder of LOMAR, Loai Nassem, has revolutionized thobe design for the past 10 years, highly supported and helped by his wife Mona Al Haddad. At that time he had to face 2 difficult and risky challenges: to build a brand from scratch (and from almost nothing) and to change step by step the mentality of the people living in one of the most conservative countries. And if today and hopefully in the future I can contribute with my experience to this amazing success story that would be one of my biggest prides! Today thanks to Lomar, we can easily say that the Saudi thobes are the most creative thobes of the GCC. Many new young Saudi Designers are now following the footsteps of Loai and are not afraid anymore to push the boundaries and to think more out of the box as he has showed them that it is important to take some risks because without risk there is no creativity and without creativity there is no life. Tradition and culture need creativity to stay alive.

We’ve seen the traditional Arabic thobe adapted on international fashion catwalks not just in ladies but also in menswear. Which Internationl designer do you think would fit best with Lomar’s DNA?

For the fame and the thrill, I would love to see a thobe design by Martin Margiela, Hedi Slimane, or of course….Jean-Paul Gaultier. But according to the Lomar DNA, I think that Giorgio Armani or Paul Smith would be the closest in terms of style to match with the taste of our customers and the DNA of the Brand.

What’s a big fashion no-no in your opinion when dressed in a thobe?

As a westerner I’m probably more open to any new ways to wear a thobe or any original initiative as I think it’s always good to let people express their sense of creativity and it is what makes a culture alive,….but what I really don’t like at all is when the thobes are too short. That makes people look inelegant, for me… Of course too long isn’t right either and not practical and not hygienic, so I think it’s important that the length should be the same length of a regular pair of trousers, as long as the shoes come out and show….the rest should be hidden by the fabric. I know that a lot of religious people advice to shorten the length above the ankle but anyway the thobe is not a religious garment.

What is your personal favourite thobe from Lomar so far?

For a casual thobe I love to wear the New Stretch Out. Its extremely comfortable and very stylish at the same time. For business I definitely love the Silver collection (see image below). This is very edgy and elegant. It’s a very good start in the sales that will encourage us to complete this collection with new designs and new sort of metallic pieces to play with…

The Silver collection – Christophe’s personal favourite in business wear!

Who are Lomar thobes most popular among?

Lomar is targeting all ages and has a very wide range of different kinds of thobes and garnments: Standard and Premium Standard thobes, Business thobes, Occasion thobes, Casual thobes, Kids thobes,… Plus there are the vests, Daglahs, underwears, accessories and many new things coming soon… but it’s still a secret! The majority of our customers are from 25 to 45 years old, meaning from fresh graduates to professionals.

What shoes are you wearing right now?

Alexander McQueen.


Christophe Beaufays converted to Islam a year ago, His Muslim name is Abdul-Mosawwer.

LOMAR’s website: www.lomarthobe.com thobe (re)defined!

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lomarthobe| Twitter: @lomarthobe





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