Nabeela Najjar’s clothing designs are ethereal sights to behold. Drawing inspiration from her dreams and from nature, the 27-year-old Detroit costume designer creates garments for editorial photoshoots and local art and fashion exhibitions. She has also designed for local musicians Charity and Silence Is the Noise, and for Suttle Dance Co. Najjar crafts floral fantasies with her silk chiffon and organza dresses, puffy-sleeved pastel blouses, and whimsical headpieces and masks.
Her Softly Away exhibit for Detroit Month of Design last September served as a perfect introduction for anyone unfamiliar with her work. The installation was a garden oasis of flowers and greenery covering the ceiling, walls, and floor, and featured pink silk garments delicately layered with more flowers. Here, Najjar tells us about her own personal style, her New Year’s resolutions, and the dictionary of more than 1,000 flower species that she’s been studying up on.
My favorite designer at the moment: “Iris van Herpen. Her work is always about movement and flow and color. [Her designs] look like pieces of art — it’s so cool.”
My personal style: “My style is definitely different from my design aesthetic. I try
to go for a simple look, from jeans and a top to long floral-pattern dresses.”
My go-to look: “Oversized sweaters or sweater dresses. That’s usually my go-to, especially since quarantine. There’s this one sweater that everyone knows I wear, and I’ve been made fun of because I was wearing it like every day. It’s a long, oversized, pinkish-purple sweater from H&M; I’ve had it for years. If I’m not going out, which has been quite often as of late, I’m usually home working. So, leggings and an oversized shirt is what I’m wearing 75 percent of the time.”
Favorite clothing brands: “I guess I don’t really shop name brands because names don’t come to mind right away. I tend to see clothing I like online, say from [the British online retailer] ASOS, and just make it myself.”
On my nightstand: “My sister just bought me this book of like every flower and plant, The Complete Language of Flowers: A Definitive and Illustrated History. So I’ve been reading up on all the different flowers.”
New Year’s resolutions: “To become better with my craftsmanship and learn new sewing techniques. To hopefully do a solo exhibit. And to have a line of my garments for sale in a store or perhaps my own storefront somewhere in Detroit.”
Check out Najjar’s work at seamstressbee.com.