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    Gorgeous New York was an online magazine created to promote hidden talent in NYC. I researched and wrote profiles for them and was the Editor for… Read More
    Gorgeous New York was an online magazine created to promote hidden talent in NYC. I researched and wrote profiles for them and was the Editor for all content on the site. Read Less
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Gorgeous New York

Gorgeous New York was an online magazine created to showcase the hidden talent in New York through a written profile, video interview, and photo shoot.

I interviewed artists on the production set, researched for supporting material, wrote profiles, and was Editor for all written content on the site.

Mataano means "twins" in Somali and is the name of the fashion line designed by twins Idyl and Ayaan Mohalim. I interviewed them when they were just getting started and they've gone on to produce 6 collections so far.
MATAANO
Somali Twin Sisters Idyl and Ayaan Mohallim Talk Fashion and Multiculturalism
by Ella Mei Yon Biggadike

In high-waisted jeans and simple tank tops, long necklaces and boots fashion-designing twins Ayaan and Idyl compliment each other nicely as they walk into the studio. You get the sense that effortless style is in their fingertips, waiting for inspiration. That inspiration is their multicultural heritage. Citizens of both the United States and Somalia, they decided early on that they wanted to make their careers in fashion, designing for the multicultural woman.

Mataano, which means twins in Somali, debuted with a Spring 2009 capsule collection of ten dresses to great reviews. Shortly after their collection landed in stores Ayaan and Idyl were invited by the Oprah show to Skype with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen about their shared experiences as twin fashion designers which brought national attention to their emerging brand. Now, with the Fall 2009 collection, Ayaan and Idyl have two seasons under their belt and are paving their way in the fashion world.

Though born in the United States, the twin sisters spent their first nine years in pre-civil war Somalia. It was important to their mother that they learn Somali language and culture. But when the cultural climate became tense with curfews and a heavy influx of refugees, their mother brought them back to the States.

They are inspired by Somali fashion in some ways. “The black look doesn’t exist in Somalia. The brighter you are the better. The peacock, the gold. Lots of perfume. Standing out. You can see that influence in the Spring 09 collection,” they say. But, you’ll still find some black in their collections because their designs are all about melding the style of two nations. Their fall collection , for instance, is much more muted with rich purples and grays. Their fall silhouettes are also much more American vintage. “We feel strongly that fashion, beauty doesn’t have a color and so we wanted to make that obvious in our clothes [so that they] really transcend all borders,” says Idyl. There’s no question that this meeting in the middle is something that they hope will help launch their brand into the global arena.

With no formal training in fashion design­­, Ayaan and Idyl held on to their dream and their passion to create the brand they’d envisioned even as young girls. After college they moved to New York City and took internships in the fashion industry. From Jill Stuart, Ayaan learned about how to take vintage fabrics and classic forms and give them a modern edge. From Betsy Johnson , Idyl learned about design technique and color. When asked about designers they love, they gush over Carolina Herreraand Tracy Reese who they feel transcend a cultural base as well as Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karanwho they say understand their woman. “We want to zero in on who the Mataano woman is and then begin to expand that concept. We see her as uptown meets downtown, east meets west, multiracial, she likes to travel.”

Aside from turning to other more established designers for inspiration they also look to their own travels, visits to art museums, vintage shopping haunts, and anything that is visually inspiring. “It doesn’t have to be clothes that inspire us; it can be the structure of a table, or a particular color. You don’t want to be all over the place. You want to start with one thing and build–– Spring in bloom, bright colors, modern meets vintage with a 1920’s twist,” says Ayaan.

When it comes to working together, they wouldn’t have it any other way. They find balance by relying on each other and feeding on each other’s ideas. In many ways their meeting in the middle of nations is natural for these compromising twins. Idyl says Ayaan is all about class, quality, and texture, real materials and timeless silhouettes. Ayaan says Idyl is eclectic and draws on her cutting edge attitude to take risks. Their different attitudes aren’t a hindrance to the brand, but bring the balance that they seek in their designs.

As for the upcoming season Mataano predicts a more somber tone in fashion because of the current economic climate. They are looking at a lot of deep colors like wine and eggplant. Ultimately though, it’s the consumer they think has the final say.

Their biggest advice as young designers to young designers is to put fear of failure aside, ask lots of questions, and take a risk. “You are your only obstacle,” they say. That’s what they’ve done and what they’ll continue to do as they take Mataano from dresses to a future lifestyle brand.