‘Ideas can be cheap. It is how you apply it, that makes a difference!’
Aminath Vileena or Vilee, also well known as ‘Pompoms’ is a rising fashion designer in the Maldives.
Vilee is presenting her newest collection ‘Pure Personality’ for this edition of VIBE. Breaking the mold of designing clothing for size zero figures, Vilee’s jewel-toned collection of ready to wear dresses and blouses are tailored to complement the curvier woman.
Q. How did it all start?
Life wasn’t easy back in the days. We were struggling a lot. That is probably one of the main reasons why I turned to tailoring. But I eventually grew to love it. I am self-taught and started with my own dresses; mostly because I had no one else to do it for me. Soon, my friends and their friends were asking to make their clothes. That was how it started – it has been fifteen years since, and it has been a good run.
‘Embrace yourself to look flawless. Beauty is defined by your personality.’
Q. Who inspires you the most?
I am always inspired and driven by nature and the people around me. The beauty around me, keeps me going. I like to keep it simple though. People and nature; there is always something about it.
Q. Where do you see yourself in the coming years? What are the goals that you want to achieve?
I aspire to be someone who helps out many people. I have dreams for myself and for people working in my field. I do wish to have a boutique of my own and have my own brand name running like most designers. But at the same time, I really do want my boutique to feature many other fashion designers along with me. My idea is to set up a place where all local fashion designers can contribute and work side by side. I personally think that this could be a wonderful thing and to see this dream come true would be simply amazing!
Fashion designing apart, I see myself doing social work like how I am doing right now. Trying to empower more women and getting involved with some community service will keep my spirits going!
Q. What are your limitations while working as a fashion designer?
I think we do have a few limitations. Few but major, to be very frank. It is almost impossible to get good materials from Male’. Or even if you do, it is ridiculously overpriced at times. Having to hunt for much needed materials can be a really frustrating thing. I think it’s frequent among most designers to source them from overseas now. Perhaps, it is time to work on this and find a solution.
In addition to this, I think I still have to gain more clients. I am not really out there-out there yet although this has been my thing for a good while. Need to work on that, aye? *shy laughs*
‘I do have confidence and faith in all fashion designers here and I deem that an association is crucial.’
Q. How do you find the fashion field in the Maldives?
I feel sorry to say this, but I find it very weak. Of course, we have raw talent here! So many skilled people out there but I feel that we lack the bit where we support each other. It is a bit too competitive now. If we all had better connections and worked together, I reckon everyone can do a lot better than they already are. Each and everyone has their own sense of uniqueness and style in them. Imagine the magnitude it can bring if we leave the unwanted competition behind! I strive to bring the needed change. That’s next on my list!
Q. Do you consider that as a challenge? If so, how do you suggest you overcome this?
Well, yes! It certainly can be very challenging with the competitiveness among most designers. I’ve always thought about this. Maybe having an association can work and bring solutions too. I always believed that togetherness and team spirit enables us to bring the best out of us.
I do have confidence and faith in all fashion designers here and I deem that an association is crucial.
Q. Any advice for newcomers to the field?
As I said before, we do have so many raw talent here in the Maldives. Be it in fashion or any other field. Us, Maldivians; we’re truly blessed in many ways. I never believed that you really need a bunch of certificates to prove your talent or skill. It is always about how passionate you are. And how hard you are willing to work, to achieve your dream.
Fashion designing has been a dream for me since the very beginning. I wanted to pursue my studies in it and did start on it as well. But faced many challenges and had to give up my studies at AOD. Yet I never gave up applying the least bit of knowledge I had in me and flourish my skills professionally. I never stopped learning. It is easy to educate yourself these days. Find your way and do it. Find ideas and get inspired. Never give up! Remember, ideas can be cheap. It is how you apply them, that makes a difference!
Q. Any achievements you would like to highlight?
I’d like to highlight the opportunity I got to experience along with fashion designer Dinesh Chandrasena for a L’officiel shoot with popular Bollywood actress Sonakshi Sinha. It was a moment I’ll always cherish. I also worked on IIFA Rocks and Art walk fashion show, both held in Srilanka; which was an amazing experience. In addition to this, I worked with designer Manish Malohtra’s team and Vikram Padnis. I am forever grateful for these incredible experiences.
‘Us, Maldivians; we’re truly blessed in many ways. I never believed that you really need a bunch of certificates to prove your talent or skill.’
Q. What got you this far?
My kids. They are truly my strength and everything I do is for them. Being a single mother of three is no joke, really. There are so many emotions involved. Pain, frustrations, smiles and immeasurable amount of love. I am blessed with the best kids ever. They’re ever so kind and understanding and I believe that I am where I am today all because of them. I’d also like to take this chance to thank all who helped me through. I don’t think I’ll have to name them. They already know how special they are. And a massive thank you to VIBE and the amazing team behind it! Much respect for the work you do