Dünya Wants You to Celebrate Traditional Clothing

A look inside the designer's hybrid world

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“Our jasmine tree, my great grand-mother who would put henna on us at night, the good dishes, the bitter olive oil, the loud laughs of my aunties, playing hide and seek in the garden—all of these memories of Algiers will remain unforgettable. And growing up in Paris, I’ve always tried to revive them”, says 25-year-old French-Algerian-Turkish designer Dünya. 

The Paris-based, self-taught, designer has always had an eye for clothes. But to her, getting dressed is much more than just style. It’s about belonging to a community and telling stories of identity. “I don’t like the term fashion”, she notes. “What really interested me when I was younger was to examine how clothing would determine what perceptions people will have about me, as a French-Arab”.

At the age of 12 and until she turned 21, Dünya didn’t visit her mother’s home country, Algeria. To fill the void, she started making research about traditions in Arab cultures, in a bid to reconnect with her childhood memories. 

Dünya then fell in love with Lebanon after a trip she took to Beirut in 2018,  and decided to settle there for a few months. The result was her first collection titled Burj Hamud, a beautiful amalgamation of traditional dressing and urban street wear.

Her culturally charged brand Isisdünya has since then garnered a cult following for its vibrant hues and commitment to upcycling and heritage.

“It wasn’t easy navigating this dual identity when I was younger”, she says before adding, “but over the course of time, I started developing a real passion for everything coming from outside: Tuaregs, Incas, Egyptology, Hmong of Vietnam, Gypsies, Samurais, Berbers, and so on and so forth”.

Clearly, her brand is proof that she is unwilling to conform to classic contemporary trends. In a country, which prides itself in policing the way Muslim women dress, many young second-gen immigrants grew up with the pervasive idea that traditional clothing isn’t synonymous with progress and style. 

Dünya wants to challenge that notion. Serving as a timely reminder of the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the current climate, her brand celebrates the nuances of hybridized identities. 

“These textiles and the work accomplished tell a story; the story of our ancestors to whom we owe the duty to perpetuate their savoir-faire”, she concludes.

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