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  • Writer's picturePatrick Cabasset

Training: When style benefits from a sense of social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is now, of course, at the heart of what all

ESMOD International students do. It is impossible for these future professionals to

design a collection without recognising and incorporating the challenges of society,

the economy and the environment. Parameters that were once rigid are now giving

way to some surprisingly sensitive work, as demonstrated by the exceptional project

put together by Hilal Sarsour for her Master’s in Creative Direction (A.D.) and Naïma

Djoud’s “no gender” project for her Master’s in Entrepreneurship in Fashion Design,

both women prize-winners in the ESMOD class of 2022.


Inside Hilal Sarsou's “Slumber of Emotions” project

“At the end of the day, I’m the creator of my own universe”, Hilal Sarsour, 26,

declares in the introduction to her Master of Art thesis. Entitled “Slumber of

Emotions”, this magnificent project opens with a series of inspired, rich,

heterogeneous and sometimes nebulous mood boards. A bit like her life, spent

between her parents’ respective homelands of Israel and Colombia and Paris, the

city of fashion, which has been a passion of hers since childhood. “I’ve always firmly

believed that we choose our own destiny; after all, life is all about the choices we

make”, she exclaims passionately. Indiscriminately citing Gaston Bachelard (the

poetics of space), Kate Fletcher (fashion and sustainability), Valérie Steel (the black

dress), Hussein Chalayan and abstract art, she has created a concept incorporating

both the visible and the concealed, artisan materials and a need for progressive,

transformable garments. Her dual and triple-material fabrics demonstrate this

appetite for free, multi-dimensional research through testing involving roughing up,

cracking, crumpling, boiling, gluing, burning, etc.

Hilal Sarsour (left) with two of her Master’s creations from her “Slumber of Emotion” collection

We might, for example, find an orchid leaf covered in a fixing coating and adorned

with embroidery, or a structured top adorned with stabilised leaves, while wooden

twigs adorn another embroidered piece, rattan is used to give a sense of structure to

an arachnoid polyester bustier, etc.

Her creations evoke the “chaos of feelings”, in her own words, but her romantic

silhouettes “Butterfly Effect”, “Circles of Infinite Feelings” and “Somewhat Hidden

Feelings” are quite frankly very appealing.

“I think that, somehow or other, I’ve already found my own place in this world, a place

that makes me happy and free, a place where I’ve met the most unbelievable people

and found the right way to fulfil my hopes and dreams”, she concludes. “I look

forward to what the future holds, because just like a flowing river, life always has a

magical touch, carrying you away with its flow to the right places and the right paths

that you least expect”.

Rattan, metallic or silk thread, dripping and burning are just some of the techniques Hilal Sarsour uses to enrich her creations.

Hilal Sarsour now holds a Master’s degree in Creative Direction and is looking for an

internship at a design studio. She is also working equally passionately on her charity

project women@dior for UNESCO (Women Leadership & Sustainability Education

Program at Christian Dior).


Naïma Djoudi’s inclusive ‘no gender’ collection is darkly poetic and has a visceral romanticism about it. Model: Selva Anthony Strehlau. Photo: Quentin Guiomard.

“I would just find it inappropriate not to address all genders, all styles, all ethnicities

and all sizes through my work”, 22-year-old Naïma Djoudi explains. “I live among a

wide variety of different people, so it seems only natural that I represent them in my

designs”. Far from simply the subject of a project, inclusivity is something that

emerges naturally through her creations, and while the issue of inclusion is one that

is close to her heart, it is also an integral part of her stylistic research. She talks about

it as though discussing a set of specifications, a matter of course, never as a primary

topic. Each of these creations is borne by a character from her world, each with their

own specific choice of garment.

Left: For her “I Was a Clown” collection, Naïma Djoudi chose Christale Copaver to wear this long

asymmetrical draped dress in satin-back crepe. Photo: Oihana Ospital. Centre: Naïma Djoudi

backstage at her photo session, pictured between Thomas Zermati and Cristale Copaver. Photo: Marylin Aubert. Right: Naïma Djoudi. Photo: Quentin Guiomard.

Her Master’s collection “I Was a Clown”, for example, distorts the traditional

appearance of the clown, which is both sad and happy, cynical and sensitive, as she

asks herself, “What could a modern clown look like?”. The dual nature of the

traditional clown, cynical and fragile at the same time, allows them to express a

certain new form of dark beauty, a modern-day romanticism, an open-mindedness

that she best expresses through blurring and draping. Having trained in fashion

design and pattern-making at ESMOD, first at undergraduate and later at post-

graduate level, Naïma also has a sound knowledge of the tailoring side of fashion. In

terms of fabrics, she is less interested in recycling processes than in using end-of-line

rolls from the sewing industry. “Recycled fabrics often don’t look luxurious enough”,

she admits, “and I do favour luxury ready-to-wear in my research, so for the time

being I’m looking more for existing fabrics that have been abandoned but are new

and accessible, of course. Once research into recycled textiles reaches that next

level, of course, then I’m sure I’ll take another look at these processes”.

Hélio Chen wears a black linen playsuit for Naïma Djoudi. Photo: Oihana Ospital.

Driven by a strong character and a Master’s in Entrepreneurship in Fashion Design,

she is working on both her own creative projects and those of her friends while she

waits to find the internship of her dreams in the studio of a luxury ready-to-wear

fashion house.

Instagram: @naima.djoudi

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