Last April, Leila Aziz revealed her ‘Kayat Design’ brand. A clothing line that seduced Hollywood stars and worldwide celebrities. Her collections are created with talent, creativity, and such passion that she can’t help but display in this candid interview.
1. Your parents are from Tangier, Morocco, but you were born in the Netherlands. You are currently living between Morocco and the USA, how did all of this help shape the person you are today?
Being born in Holland, coming from Morocco and living in LA helped me understand women from different parts of the world and understand their needs and interests in Fashion. My biggest inspiration is absolutely from Morocco – just walking around in the old cities, seeing all the colors, the hand-made carpets, and the beautiful embroideries. I especially admire the vintage Moroccan Caftan, Art and embroidery.
2. You are a law graduate, but fashion design is your passion. How did that come about?
I studied Law, because unfortunately in Moroccan culture we don’t really see fashion as a real job. I am happy that it’s changing now and we see a lot of well-educated talented designers from Morocco! At the end of the day, I am happy that I studied and obtained my Law degree. It’s definitely another passion of mine and it molded me into the person that am today!
3. What inspired you to create your brand Kayat Design?
The idea to create my own brand started when I was wearing my own creations on the red carpet and people would always give me compliments and ask where to buy it!
4. What inspires your creations?
My biggest inspirations are traveling, art and the history of fashion – I am obsessed with vintage shopping and am always searching for unique pieces. I’ve never liked ordinary clothing, even when I was young. Morocco was a very inspiring place where I could get my ideas out since I could go to the tailor (ma3lam) and make my dream caftan a reality.
5. Tell us about your first collection?
My first collection is very special to me of which some pieces were worn by big names, even though I got a lot of negative feedback from people in the fashion industry. They said it’s too Arabic and it wouldn’t work in the USA, but it turned out to be one of my best selling collections! That’s why it’s important to believe in yourself!
6. What made your brand so famous?
I worked very hard to be in the international market and I’m still working. I am absolutely not where I want to be yet, I want Kayat to be like the world’s big names having everything from clothing to makeup! I feel like a lot of big brands benefit from the history of Morocco and get inspired by its culture! I would love to see more Moroccans having successful brands worldwide because we have so much talent! I was lucky enough to meet Angelina Jolie’s stylists Jennifer Rade! I showed her my look book and she was so sweet, she loved every piece and gave me great feedback and gave me advice on what to do! The key was to get in the best PR showroom – she said, “it’s not easy to get in but with a collection like this, you have a big potential!”
7. Any celebrities who liked your designs?
Yes, I’ve dressed a lot of big names, but it never happened through the stars directly. It was always through the PR showroom. I want people to request it because they like it! Some stars that have worn my designs are Jlo, Britney Spears, Vanessa Hudson, Shay, Zendaya, Selena Gomez, Priyanka Chopra, Eva Longoria, Hailey Baldwin…
8. Has your marriage with RedOne, the renowned music producer, helped your career in some ways?
RedOne is my number one supporter and I am more known in Morocco as his wife, but unfortunately, this doesn’t help in the fashion world. In Hollywood, no one takes people like me seriously just because we’re married to a famous producer. They never make it to the second collection. No one in the fashion industry knows I am married to RedOne! Here’s a funny story: I met a family friend, Evan Ross (Diana ross son), in Marrakech and I asked him about his wife Ashlee Simpson. I showed him pictures of her wearing Kayat and I told him that was my brand. He was so surprised, he didn’t believe it!
9. What does the caftan represent for you?
To me, it represents a piece of art because it’s beautiful how plain fabric can be turned in a beautiful caftan with unique handcraft.
10. How do you manage between your work and the beginning of your children’s school year?
It used to be very stressful since we travel a lot, but we did the best thing that works for us. My son homeschooled and it gives us the freedom to travel. He is always with us, which as parents, is very important! I always try to work around my kids’ and husband’ s schedule since my work is flexible.
11. What drives you to go through life challenges?
My motivation is my husband. I saw what he has achieved from nothing! He had a big dream and worked very hard until he made it. Nothing is impossible, you have to go after your dreams, fall down and stand back up – you can’t give up! The things that help me get through life challenges are my family – at the end of the day, I have my beautiful family and a supporting husband and that’s all that matters!
FDM, September 2019.