A candid conversation with FSAD alum Gizelle Begler ’08 about establishing her namesake couture label, destigmatizing the hijab, and utilizing fashion as a vehicle for social change.
Editor’s Note: Gizelle graduated from the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design in 2008, where she explored her passion for her Egyption-American culture through design, interned with Tommy Hilfiger and Giorgio Armani and was the first Cornell student to win the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund award. Upon graduating, she was immediately recruited to lead the design team at formalwear boutique Sugar Plum NY, subsequently moving to Kuwait and designing couture for the Kuwaiti Royal family. One year later, she moved to Egypt and founded her fledgling company Gizelle Couture, an evening wear label dedicated to offering Middle Eastern women the gown of their dreams. As Gizelle Couture became a premier name in evening and bridal wear across the globe, she made splashing headlines in such publications as Enigma and Marry Me, Egypt’s #1 fashion magazine and wedding guide respectively.
How did your time in Kuwait and Egypt influence your vision as an artist and entrepreneur and spark an idea for your own business?
Before I went to Egypt, I was in the city working as a little girl’s dress designer, and my race and religion never had much to do with my work. I was so obsessed with avant garde and couture, and it wasn’t until I went to the Middle East that I realized I still needed to consider the needs of the community. They love fashion and dress but living in Muslim countries, there is no store or global business that creates really nice things for the modern woman.