Latifa Al Mudahki, a graduate of the Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, is hosting the Grand opening of her boutique Moda Key on Thursday, 3 February, 2011 in Doha at Building 48 Aljazeera street, Fareej Bin Mahmoud.
Moda Key offers a fresh, chic venue for women to shop for ready-to-wear clothing, handbags, footwear and accessories which nourish femininity and sophisticated style. Moda Key owner and General Manager, Latifa Al Mudahki says the boutique doesn’t just sell her label, but 21 other brands too mostly European and some Asian including Gia London, Arteve, Dinda Rella and Fernando Pensato. Foot wear comes in leather and snakeskin, hand bags in leather, jewelry is mostly silver or with semi-precious stones and they are all hand-made. Ms Mudahki classifies the products as mid to high range with prices starting at QR 350. She is also selling her own collection of handbags and cocktail dresses under her label LFM.
English jewelry designer Sarah Reece is the most recent brand to join Moda Key and “she creates her jewelry here in Qatar which is all hand-made” explains Ms Al Mudahki of the upcoming designer whose pieces are also sold in London. “I have a personal connection with each of the brands, which I feel is very important in order to establish a strong business relationship,” adds Ms Mudahki who doesn’t just work with them but also designs with some of them. “We exchange creative ideas,” she says. “Every day is a learning day, trying to achieve something new.”
Ms Mudhaki indeed has had a lot of experience to learn from. She did her internship in New York with designer Isabel Toledo, who she refers to as a mentor. “Being in New York was very inspiring and working with a designer such as Isabel Toledo, definitely is a huge influence. I realized there just how badly I wanted to do this and working with the industry plays a big role in wanting to be a part of it.” Ms Mudahki says she learned a lot with Ms Toledo. “Her workshops are very hands on. Ruben Toledo also works in the same studio and their love for art and fashion is very contagious. It is amazing to be around and absorb that energy every day,” she says explaining it helped with everything she did and still does. “It brought me close to becoming what I want in terms of my career and personally too.”
The Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF) in Kuala Lumpur end of 2008 where Ms Mudahki was one of the coordinators was another stepping stone. “I had volunteered the year before when I attended and was later invited to be coordinator.” She was in Kuala Lumpur for four months working with 150 fashion designers one-on-one. This was a huge learning experience and she discovered first-hand what it takes to prepare for a fashion show. It also kicked off her network bringing her in touch with many Far Eastern and Asian designers. “This was incredible. The IFF is a big event especially for designers in this part of the world and it was very exciting and challenging the way they all come together to make something.”
It definitely blew Ms Mudahki’s mind. “Right after graduating, I knew I wanted to pursue a career as a fashion designer, but after the Festival, I wanted to do this even more, I wanted to have my own label and be a part of the experience,” she says.
She credits VCUQatar for giving her the tools to work in the fashion industry and continuing to be a huge support system. She adds her professor Donald Earley and fashion design chair Sandra Wilkins’ names to her list of mentors and supporters. “Their belief in my abilities and their encouragement in all the choices I made since graduating from VCUQatar have been incredibly overwhelming and extremely generous,” she says adding that she considers herself to be extremely lucky to be part of the VCUQatar family.
Ms Mudahki agrees there are challenges to being a fashion designer in the Middle East. “It’s only recently, in the last 10 years, that the community has accepted that careers in design, fashion, art could be stable and vibrant. But this business needs you to travel and surround yourself with others from the industry, so you have a support system that other careers perhaps don’t offer.”
“Challenges change from day to day. Every phase I go through has an impact on me. Seeing the huge amount of talent in the world, being around that is inspiring. Life is a mentor. And if you believe in what you do, you can make others see it.”
“Latifa’s not only a designer, she has a tremendous eye for the outrageous and the innovative. She has a drive and determination that sets her apart,” says Sandra Wilkins, chair of the Fashion Design department at VCUQatar. Speaking about the opening, she adds, “It’s new territory for my students because they’re doing what we’re training them to become – entrepreneurs. Latifa made a decision and has followed through, she’s going to make us proud.”
“A million congratulations to Latifa for taking this step to start her own business,” said Ruben and Isabel Toledo. “We are very proud of her work and consider her a great asset to the design community of Qatar. We wish her much success from New York City and the whole Toledo team!”
“It has been my honor to watch Latifa grow from being a talented student to coordinating the Islamic Fashion Festival in Malaysia to a successful entrepreneur that is leading the way for others to follow. She is a role model for students in Qatar as someone who has struggled through every detail and put in hours of sweat to make her love of fashion design come together in to a fruitful professional business. I think Moda Key will set the agenda for uniqueness and style in Qatar and the GCC,” said director of Marketing and Public Relations, Moamer Qazafi
Moda Key opens on Thursday, 3 February, 2011 at 6:00 PM. The boutique is located in Building 48, Aljazeera Street in Fareej Bin Mahmoud and the launch is open to the public.