Little Women: from literature to wearable grace

Nayera Yasser
8 Min Read

Walking between the alleys of their palace, four women have lived through both bitter and sweet times. The walls of that 19th century house have documented each and every phase of their struggles and evolutions.

A long time ago, novelist Louisa May Alcott created four of the world’s most famous fictional characters: the March sisters. Margret, Elizabeth, Josephine, and Amy were four siblings that managed to become a close family to many young women who grew up reading their story.

Despite it being published in 1868, Little Women is a classic novel that continues to touch the lives of each passing generation. Shahira Lasheen is one of Egypt’s top couture figures who has already established herself as an artistic designer, continuously turning her passion for art and literature into wearable art.

This season, Lasheen chose to express her appreciation of Alcott’s timeless masterpiece, and talk to young women who are still in the process of developing their “print” on the world. Her Spring Summer 2016 (SS16) collection is both elaborate and dreamy.

Each and every gown encapsulates a great entrance and a fairytale-like experience. The intricate embroidery, ruffled sleeves, and dramatic necklines are all key characteristics that make this particular collection a work of art, rather than just a series of garments.

The garments were highlighted through a royal photo shoot. The creative team behind the editorial brilliance aimed to take the world back to the 19th century, while also proving that beauty and glamour is not bound to certain eras. Louay Nasser and Kegham Djeghalian recreated the world of the March sisters. Furthermore, they successfully transported the audience away from their blue jeans and gadgets, and teleported them to the enchanting world of the little women.

Daily News Egypt sat down with the designer to talk literature, family values, and future plans.


Photo Handout to DNE
Photo Handout to DNE

What made you choose Little Women as a main source of inspiration?


My brand is managed and operated by my family members. Accordingly, family is a very important factor in my life. No one can be perfect in life. However, I depend on royalty as a doable example of perfection and strong family ties.

Most of my collections have been inspired by novels or paintings that reveal the power of unity and mutual ethics. I believe that my aesthetic represents an old and different concept of royal power that has been missing among most people. Today, the world is in dire need of it. Therefore, I chose the novel Little Women by Alcott.

How would you define each of the four main characters?


The novel unfolds a story of four women: the tolerant, the tomboy, the selfishly smart, and the woman of an unsound mind. Their journey from adolescence to maturity could be divided into three different phases of prosperity and misery. My designs were mainly inspired by the characters’ journey. I tried to capture the evolution of each character through three designs that mirrored the story’s main milestones from each woman’s perspective.


What are the key design factors that you focused on in order to narrate the novel’s key events?


The colour scheme of the SS16 collection depends on the colours of life: white, green, red, and grey. The collection was characterised by graded colour palettes for each woman, as a walk through their development to maturity.

The collection starts with a light palette, representing a dreamy personality that pays no mind to the problems of life. Later on, it develops into a darker palette that represents the evolution phase.


As for the silhouettes, the SS16 collection features straight and sharp lines with a feminine touch. On the other hand, the fabrics and materials are mainly lace, laser fabrics, and stain. This represents the glamorous era of the19th century with a modern touch.


What was the main concept behind the collection’s photo shoot?


We chose a team that could represent the identity of the brand. As I mentioned before, it is a family business, so we were basically representing the royalty traits through family ideology.

The shoot was prepared and photographed by a professional team including fashion photographer Louay Nasser. He excelled at providing the suitable combination of light and angles to narrate the novel. Kegham Djeghalian, the creative director, created the perfect mood board for the shoot, and makeup artist Zeinab Khashab completed the image with her touches.


Meanwhile, the photo shoot was done at the Agriculture Museum, as its premises actually belonged to the old Egyptian monarchy.


Photo Handout to DNE
Photo Handout to DNE

What encouraged you to leave mechanical engineering behind and pursue fashion?

Although I graduated from the faculty of mechanical engineering, I was all wound up with my extreme passion for fashion since I was a child. I started my fashion career in 2010, after I finished my studies in fashion design.

Furthermore, I was later nominated as one of the 10 best upcoming young Arab designers by international fashion designer Zuhair Murad. Afterwards, I went to Lebanon for a training period with one of the top international fashion designers, Tony Ward.


What is next on your agenda?


Our vision seeks an unlimited range while maintaining our current standards. We aim to continue our extreme care for constant improvement to please our customers and provide high-quality products.  We are looking forward to expanding locally and internationally, providing custom-made gowns with a royal style, which ranges between haute couture, ready-to-wear, and bridal gowns.

On the other hand, we have expansion plans that include adding new pillars to the brand, such as footwear and cosmetics. The new lines are expected to be released to a limited number of clients in 2017.

Meanwhile, the upcoming Shahira Lasheen collection is currently in progress and will be officially launched by the end of 2016.

Share This Article
Leave a comment