A first hand account by Marriam Mossalli.




I would tell you I discovered Aziz Humaid, but that would be a lie. He found me. And he did not let me go.

It started over a year ago; over a Facebook message.

Do you think Saudi is ready for contemporary minimalism? He would write.

No. Even Rick Owens, Helmut Lang, and Rad Horani are not selling strongly. The country isn’t ready. 

I was honest and direct. I didn’t want this kid wasting his, or my time. In reality, it was probably my time I was more concerned about.

Fast forward to the end of August.

Hi, it’s Aziz Humaid, again. I’d like to show you some samples I made. I’ll come to Jeddah.

Aziz lived minimalism. At this point, he had been sporadically sending one or two-sentenced messages, regarding the Saudi market, branding, and preferred aesthetic. Direct and concise, I would answer back in the same manner. I decided his persistence with me could only be a positive indicator of his unwavering determination. I was right.

When I first met Aziz Humaid, he and his business partner, Yazeed Abdulwahab, had driven 9 hours from Riyadh in a red truck.  A petite man with a Cheshire Cat-like smile, Aziz naïve enthusiasm for fashion is almost contagious. He makes you believe in the purity of fashion because its business counterpart has not yet tainted him. He’s what I imagine a young John Galliano to be like: loveable, passionate, kind, and yes, an ego in the making.

Back at a friend’s, Aziz opened a suitcase to reveal a sea of black and white polyester cotton blends. These boys needed help. And after seeing his effortful attempts, I knew I wanted to be the one to provide it.

Saudi’s fashion connoisseurs; Mazin Ghazzawi, a RISD graduate and jewelry designer; Jad Arly, a trend forecaster and fashion design graduate; and Omar Ashour, the man behind the lux thobe brand, Omar Azure, have all gathered for Aziz Humaid; armed with constructive criticism and a reality check.

Fast forward to September.


Aziz has relocated to Dubai. Niche Arabia has partnered him with a local atelier and a design mentor. Aziz is getting his hands dirty in the fashion playpen that is construction. He loves it, but he also complains.  It’s a sadistic relationship; this one he has with fashion. But a necessary one if he wants to be successful, I tell him.

My pants are falling off! I don’t eat or sleep anymore! He tells me over the phone.

I told you this wasn’t going to be easy… And it’s only going to get harder. I sound like my mother. She never was one to show maternal empathy they way it’s described in children’s books. Rather, she prescribed to the “tough love” school of parenting.

Skip a few days.

Bong Guerro and Shahi Hamad are in my hotel suite. We have a model squeezing into one of three of Aziz’s newly revamped designs. She is wearing my shoes. This is not the ideal showcase, but it’ll have to do—and it does. Niche Arabia signs with Fashion Forward Season 2. There’s no turning back and I tell Aziz that if he thought the pressure was on before, it wasn’t. NOW it is.

Skip a few weeks to the opening of Fashion Forward Season 2.

It’s mayhem, but fashion always is. The weeks leading up to your show, your body no longer knows what food is. Sleep is a distant memory; if only your mind could lend some time to nostalgia. It’s really all about the fittings and the rehearsals; the PR and the hype.

Rewind back to two weeks.

My investors are pulling out. They don’t understand what I’m doing in Dubai. Aziz is calm, but not smiling. It’s such a departure from that Cheshire-cat smile I’ve grown accustomed to, and now I can’t tell if he’s actually as stoic as he appears or is just as panicked as I am.

It doesn’t matter, I tell him. We’re moving forward. We have too.

Go back to the week of Fashion Forward Season 2.

It’s all leading up to that inevitable climax; and performance anxiety is not an option. It’s do or be done. And already, I’m beaming like a proud parent, who knows her kid is the best even if everyone else in the world disagrees.



Jump to the 18th of October, 3 pm.

Only a few hours ago, we were finalizing the runway music. Ripping off the price tags of 17 newly purchased black booties.  Saudi’s fashion scene has been imported for the event. From designers Hatem Alakeel Reem AlFaisal, Omar Ashour, and Dubai-based talents Tamara AlGabbani, Shrekahnth and Butz Fuentz; our front row reveals a curated caliber of talent. Marie Claire Italy’s editor sits alongside Vogue Portugal’s editor, who sits next to Masquerade’s Rebecca, who is a few seats from Style.com Arabia’s team. Some of Saudi’s fashionistas have flown in especially for the event, while others take a midday break from Eid shopping and the movie theaters to grace us with their presence. Dar Al Hekma’s fashion students and alumni show off their streetstyle for eager cameras. And the lights begin to dim.

Fast Forward three minutes.

My heart is beating out of my chest. My hands are shaking. I’m trying to enjoy the designs as they march out onto the runway, but I’m too preoccupied scanning people’s reactions. The positive nods, the smiles of approval. My heart is now in my throat. If this is what it feels like to have your child judged by others, I don’t think I could ever handle being a mother.  I want everyone to love Aziz as much as I love him. His designs are visionary. And not just for Saudi, or Dubai, or the Gulf. He has a narrative and he’s going to tell it. The show concludes with Aziz’s army of monochromatic soldiers stomping the runway. And there it is: the fashion orgasm we’ve all been waiting for and it’s perfection.

See, I also write way too dirty to ever be a mother.

Skip to the after glow.

People approach in droves, each congratulating and asking a hundred and one questions on just who this little unknown Najdi really is. I tell them they’ll soon find out. Aziz Humaid is not going anywhere except to the top.

Aziz is not a one-hit-wonder. This is just the beginning. And if you don’t believe me, just wait for Season 3. Sure, it’ll be filled with the same mayhem and chaos pre-show. But that is fashion. And it’s a sacrifice this young man from Central KSA is willing to take and a sadistic mentorship I’m more than happy to bestow. I applaud Aziz for enduring all that he has. He’s come along way from the aspiring designer, who would sleep with his designs in fear they would be snatched and taken away from him forever as he dreamt of them coming alive on the runway.

I thank Aziz everyday for finding me. And not letting me go.

Marriam Mossalli, Rami Farook, Tamara Al Gabbani, and Abdulaziz Al Abdulla sits Frow for Saudi Designer Aziz Humaid's debut collection presented by Niche Arabia

Marriam Mossalli, Rami Farook, Tamara Al Gabbani, and Abdulaziz Al Abdulla sits Frow for Saudi Designer Aziz no prescription online pharmacy Humaid’s debut collection presented by Niche Arabia