Fashions of Multicultural Australia (FOMA) is set to return in 2021 after it's highly successful Runway Showcase and Cultural Exhibit last year at the Cutaway, Barangaroo. As FOMA builds towards another major showcase of fashion of culture next year, we thought we'd catch up with one of our key designers from 2019, Anjilla Seddeqi, and find out what she's been up to since she participated in FOMA and walked home with the 2019 FOMA Symbol of Harmony Award.
Full Name: Anjilla Khwaja
Brand: Anjilla Seddeqi
Country of Birth: Afghanistan
Country of Residence: Australia
Years of living in Australia: 30
When did you first start designing clothing?
I started designing for myself approximately 13 years ago and mainly due to the lack of modest yet stylish and sophisticated clothes available at the time. I had difficulty finding pieces that worked for me, my lifestyle and career and began designing my own clothes.
I have a legal background and practiced refugee law for a number of years. The opportunity to explore my artistic and creative side was very refreshing and exciting.
My debut collection was launched in December 2017 at Dubai Modest Fashion Week.
What are the primary cultural influences that inspire your designs?
My Afghan heritage informs my design process particularly fabric choice and colours. I tend to focus on the celebrations in Afghanistan and the attire worn during those special occasions. There’s a strong emphasis on brocades, embroidered fabrics and vibrant and lively colours. Afghanistan has seen its fair share of war and destruction and so it’s important for me to focus on the positive aspects like the traditions, cultural practices and celebrations.
My Australian heritage also informs my design process and I am particularly inspired by the fashions from the 50s and 60s. My designs including opera coats, shirt dresses and voluminous gowns and skirts are inspired by the classic and elegant silhouettes of the golden years of fashion.
What are you most proud of in your career as a designer?
There are a number of achievements in my career that I’m proud of including partaking in FOMA and having the opportunity to represent my Afghan/Australian heritage. Winning the FOMA Symbol of Harmony Award was something I never expected to receive but I’m so humbled and grateful for. Being featured in Harper's Bazaar was another important achievement and milestone in my career. It was very important for me that young girls who look like me can see that anything is possible and achievable if you set your mind to it. I believe representation is very important especially for the younger generations. And so this feature served a number of important purposes for me.
Anjilla Seddeqi was featured in Harper's Bazaar in April 2019
Describe your experience in being a part of Fashions of Multicultural Australia (FOMA)? In your opinion, how did it differ compared to other runway shows that you have been part of?
FOMA is a highlight in my designing career. It was a springboard for me to achieve and gain recognition from the Australian fashion industry. It was through FOMA and it’s Ambassador, the fashion anthropologist, Charlotte Smith that I was able to connect with the Kirstie Clements, the Fashion Director at Harper's Bazaar, and had the opportunity to be featured in their magazine as a designer who is revolutionising modest fashion. Both Sonia and Charlotte have been great supporters of my work and have at every stage celebrated my success and warmly embraced me. This is something that’s unprecedented for me. They are personally committed to seeing me succeed and to foster my talent. I’ve never come across this level of dedication and commitment.
What are your thoughts on the FOMA platform as a vehicle to integrate communities, foster social cohesion, and develop emerging/grassroots designers?
FOMA will forever hold a special place in my heart. Sonia's message of creating social cohesion through fashion is something I strongly believe in. I think it’s imperative in these times that we focus on what brings us together as a community, emphasising our shared values of love, hope and humanity. And FOMA is that perfect platform. FOMA also gives designers from different cultural backgrounds the ability to showcase their talents and provides a positive platform to present Australia’s diversity and to highlight the positive contribution that Australia’s refugee and migrant populations are making to society. FOMA also provides a link to the fashion industry for upcoming designers from various cultural backgrounds who may not have the connections or the understanding of the fashion industry. Without FOMA it would be very difficult to make these connections.
Since taking part in FOMA, would you say that your career and designs have received more exposure?
Absolutely. FOMA has been the springboard for my fashion career in Australia. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that have come my way as a result of my involvement with FOMA. Without Sonia and Charlotte I would not have met Kirstie Clements or be featured in Harpers Bazaar. I believe it’s important to acknowledge, nurture and treasure these relationships. Ultimately whatever success or achievements I make it will come back to these key players and supporters. Whenever I have reached out to Sonia for advice she’s always approached me with open arms and has gone above and beyond to ensure that I accomplish whatever it is that I set out to do.
Did taking part in FOMA and collaborating with designers from various cultures and countries help to expand your understanding of fashion from a cultural and creative perspective?
FOMA allowed me to appreciate how our cultures influence our design process and the beauty of doing and approaching things in different ways. FOMA highlights the importance of celebrating art and beauty, which resonates through a cross section of the community and brings us together. All the designers were there for a common and important purpose, to show how fashion and design can connect us together as a community.
Anjilla Seddeqi's designs were featured as part of the 2019 FOMA Runway Showcase
What are some of the major projects you have coming up? Please comment on any upcoming exhibits, runway shows, collections, collaborations, or ideas you are currently working on:
There are a number of opportunities that I am currently exploring for next year. I am very grateful for the opportunities that have come my way this year through FOMA and excited at the possibilities that lie ahead. I’m considering the possibility of opening up a pop up shop in Sydney and Melbourne and I’m hoping to continue to collaborate with FOMA and it’s designers. I have collaborated with FOMA milliner, Wendy Scully Millinery, to produce some vintage inspired headpieces which were incorporated in my recent Spring/Summer collection.
If FOMA followers want to keep up with some of your upcoming projects, where should they find you?
Fashions of Multicultural Australia is set to return in 2020. Keep up to date for major announcements around the program by visiting our website here.