Cardi B is definitely a style icon in the making—just look at her stunning dress from the 2018 Grammy Awards red carpet. The singer stepped out wearing a custom creation by Ashi. And the same designer also dressed her for last night’s Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party and for her performance. InStyle.com caught up with the talented designer behind the show-stopping looks, Mohammed Ashi, and he revealed all of the fun details that went into creating the unforgettable designs. Find out all about the hard work that went into making the couture pieces below.
InStyle.com: Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind these dresses.
Mohammed Ashi: The first look is from our Ready-To-Wear Spring/Summer 2018 collection. It’s a strapless, floor-length ivory tuxedo gown. We have a cocktail version of this dress, but we opted for something more worthy of a red carpet. Cardi wore that to the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party.
One of the dresses is custom made for Cardi. It’s a mullet length dress with a voluminous manipulation of pleated black tulle, with a fitted V-shaped upper part also containing black ruffled tulle. The inspiration behind this dress was Cardi herself. Her hard-to-miss personality [in a good way] is the reason that the dress has this certain ‘grandeur’ that is also inevitably hard to miss.
The last dress is from our Fall/Winter 2017-2018 couture collection called ‘The girl on the moon.’ It’s a short, pleated ivory lace dress with butterfly sleeves and tail. The inspiration behind this collection is about a girl who had always dreamt of going to the moon. You can also link this story to Cardi’s rapid ascent and exposure to the music scene.
Through these very different looks, we wanted to portray the different sides of a woman: Her strong character and her loyalty to her inner self, her artistic, dramatic, and dreamy side, and finally her femininity and poise.
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IS: Cardi B is often seen in body suits and spandex performance outfits. These couture looks are a departure from her super sexy style but still really feel like her. How did you take her personal style into account when designing?
MA: I try to show body figures, and I accentuate the curves whilst keeping the signature Ashi structure.
IS: What is your favorite thing about Cardi B’s personal style?
MA: She’s not afraid to experiment with Fashion all whilst staying true to herself. She is a rarity in the music industry concerning her very straightforward and honest personality.
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IS: Did Cardi B give any feedback on the designs? Did you work with her stylist?
MA: Yes, Kollin Carter, her stylist, contacted us approximately a month and a half ago. Both of them came forward with a certain look they had in mind, and so we sent over a few designs that corresponded to the mood they were looking for. We ended up dressing her not only for the red carpet, but for her Grammy performance and for the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party.
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IS: How long did it take to make the dresses?
The dresses took approximately two to three weeks—a total of 150 hours [to create]. [We had] six main couture seamstresses working on it.
IS: How does your background play into your designs?
MA: I’m Saudi Arabian, but we are based in Beirut. And we operate from Lebanon, London and Italy. I had to break a lot of rules and face a ton of obstacles to get to where I am today. The biggest challenge about being a Middle Eastern designer is to prove that you are up to standard with the rest of the world, and break the stereotypes that most people have about Middle-Eastern and Arabs. My inspiration doesn’t solely come from my background, I find inspiration in everything that surrounds me and especially the arts: music, painting, nature, and various cultures.
IS: So many huge stars wear your clothes. What does it feel like to see your dress on the Grammys red carpet?
MA: It feels like an enormous accomplishment to see my work on the red carpet of such important events. It definitely encourages me to keep going.
VIDEO: Watch Cardi B Walk the Grammys Red Carpet
IS: What makes designing a piece for the Grammys different than designing for any other event?
MA: I believe that it has more room for creativity. Each artist has their own identity, and they get to showcase this sort of extension of themselves onto the Grammys’ red carpet. It’s a platform of self-expression and the boundaries are limitless.
IS: What do you love most about working with musicians?
MA: Working with musicians is different and definitely more creative because they already have their own style and identity, so it becomes a fun collaboration resulting in a very artistic design.
-With reporting by Ruthie Friedlander.