Sahar Alsammarae honed her embroidery and design skills in Iraq, her native country, before temporarily relocating to Syria then moving to Vermont five years ago. Besides fashion, Sahar is passionate about cooking and, for our interview, she welcomed me with mounds of irresistible homemade oriental pastries. Her passion has led her to graduate from the Community Kitchen Academy where she occasionally assists with teaching. She also often volunteers to cook for local organizations helping refugees.
She absolutely loves designing and making clothes and has participated in several local fashion shows, including Karibu.
What follows is a loose transcript of a conversation I had with Sahar and her interpreter.
When did you start sewing and designing?
My father had a towel factory in Samara [Iraq] . The towels were plain and I experimented with embroidered patterns to try something new. The idea took off; there was a lot of demand and I started working with my sisters and sister-in-law to meet the demand for embroidered towels.
I then started embroidering hijabs.
How are you getting ready for Karibu?
I have already bought the fabrics and found models. I’m in the process of finalizing the designs; I have lots of ideas but I’m not sure yet. The design ideas are in my head; I didn’t prepare drawings.
For each creation, I try to find inspiration from a different region. Last year for Karibu, I drew inspiration from Kurdish styles [North of Iraq] and from the South.
Do you have new design ideas?
I’d love to bring back fashion from the 60s! I love the styles, especially the puffy skirts.
I’m also thinking about integrating ancient symbols and images from the province of Babil [the mythical Babylon] into my designs.