It’s hard to believe that Paris-based Syrian designer Maya Chantout is only 25-years-old. One skim through her résumé reads like a who’s who of fashion. The young designer has already helmed stints at Hermès, Chloé and more recently Celine, where she worked alongside Hedi Slimane.
Despite the namedropping – her success didn’t come overnight. An alumnus of prestigious Parisian school La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, and winner of the LVMH fashion graduate prize in 2018, it’s safe to say Chantout is well deserving of a space on your radar in 2020.
Having just quit her job at Celine, Chantout is now launching her namesake label which she calls a “hybrid mixture of classic French shapes and savoir-faire with Syrian fabrics”
For Chantout, fashion is a form of storytelling. Bursts of inspiration usually come from resurrecting memories from her childhood in Syria. “Listening to Fairuz in the morning and antiquing with my mother during our warm summer days in my village next to Damascus”, she says, recalling how she uses her family heritage as a backdrop for her work.
Her first fashion memory? Buying a pair of jeans with colourful fruit patches on the back in a second-hand shop in Syria. “I wore it to my first day of 7th grade. I felt so powerful and unique in it and I think that was the day I knew that this is what I want to do in life. I wanted to design clothes that make people feel what I felt that day”, she continues.
It only takes a few seconds of scrolling through Chantout’s Instagram feed to notice her eye-catching sense of style. Feminine, sensual, free and with a touch of flamboyance—she draws inspiration from Arab femme fatales in old films.
What sets Chantout apart is how she balances sincere authenticity and a contagious sense of joyfulness. Often spotted wearing ruffled shirts, off-shoulder necklines, leopard print and slip dresses—that flirt with her curves in vivid shades of pink, purple, green and orange—Chantout prefers bold statements over trends. “ I don’t believe there should be any rules in fashion and in my own opinion, trends were invented just to make people consume more”, she affirms.
Currently working on her label, she plans to make her clothes in artisanal ateliers back home and is committed to help her people along the way. “I have a dream of becoming this voice that reminds people that something else exists in fashion and something else exists in Syria other than war”.