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designer walid saidi


in conversation with samine joudat

Current location?

At the moment I am in between Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. 

How did you end up as a designer?

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Well, it’s a long story; I was studying industrial design when I got asked to be a model for a friend’s jury in the fashion section of the school, and from that point I fell in love with the techniques and the puzzle construction (of fashion). I started as an intern at Jean Paul Gaultier and then worked for Paul Smith for 2 years. I ran my own line/business for 3 years thereafter and also spent a year at Maison Martin Margiela. I have since been working as a freelance designer.

‘it is more of a grounded futuristic
silhouette that borrows a lot from traditional

What is it about fashion design that fulfills you and compels you to continue? 

Well, there is no other feeling than to see your idea come to life, but the process of creation and innovation is what keeps me going.

What does your design process entail - what do you draw on to find inspiration and how does that then manifest as a specific drawing, a pattern, a fabric or cut choice, and ultimately a piece of clothing?

It always comes from a feeling, maybe I saw a texture, a shape, a memory of something or a situation I have been in. Then comes the first sketch, and the situation, the garment or the collection that it inspires. From that point, the different steps and possibilities in terms of construction ensue. For one of our shows during my time doing SADWALLI (his own line), I built a light-set to sync with the background music, serving as entrance ambience to the venue.  It was inspired by a Japanese video game from way back when I had seen where the light grew through timed cadences - it was called Zone of the Enders. 

Who and what are your influences - inside of fashion or out? 

I love and look up to a lot of designers in fashion and in architecture, but I wouldn’t say I have a directly specific influence. What influences me the most is history and views into the future.

Is there a theme or recurring idea that runs throughout your concepts and designs? How would you describe your aesthetic?

The idea is connivance and what you feel wearing one of my designs. Recently I had a friend of mine that never wore a shirt till one of the shirts that I made under SADWALLI.

About my aesthetic I could say it is more of a grounded futuristic silhouette that borrows a lot from traditional tailoring.

We are all evolving as people; as a person evolves so too does his art.

At the moment I’m going through a peace/frustration stage where all of my frustrations go into pieces that treat mental breakdown and the post breaking-down moment.


How many languages do you speak? How does your international background influence your design process? Do you sometimes catch yourself thinking in one language versus another? 

(laughs) You know, I’m from a very mixed background, my mother being French-Spanish and my father Algerian-Turkish.

So sometimes I kind of tap into one culture or another; each one of my cultures is rich in history and tradition.

For my languages, I speak French as my mother language, Italian for work, but I mostly speak English due to its universality.

What role do you think the rise of digital and social media have played in the creative and business processes in the fashion industry? 

Oh! That’s an interesting question I’ve been asking myself a lot. Well, social media is an amazing tool to share information. Concerning fashion, it’s tricky as it helps small businesses grow and covers a large geographic zone. But it also puts them in a certain position where they have to respond to a sudden large demand, and not all businesses and designers can afford holding this position for the long run.

So I guess high-end takes more time (than afforded by social media), and that only makes the difference between mass-market and designer/luxury more pronounced. 

Do you believe fashion has a role to play in: 

reflecting and capturing the context of its time?

Totally! It reflects the consumer of today and the days we are living in.

in critiquing and providing social commentary on society? What role should fashion take?

Fashion could take different positions - political, environmental and social. Most fashion nowadays is reduced to a business with objectives that are mostly monetary. 

Favorite color and why? 

Multiple shades of blue and green but most of it is black.