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Former London Style Week designer pivots to modest style market

A picture from the Elle B. Zhou relaunch in 2020. Courtesy picture

(RNS) — From the pinnacles of the style world to a wrongful stint in jail and again, Elle B. Mambetov’s extraordinary private journey has helped her emerge as a novel voice on the planet of luxurious style.

Half a decade in the past, her label Elle B Zhou appeared at Paris Style Week and her purse assortment at London Style Week. She was working with among the largest retailers in the UK after a stint residing in China.

The Texas-born designer, who obtained her first stitching machine at age 7, was one among style’s rising stars.

Then law enforcement officials knocked on the door of her London flat with questions.

Mambetov, a foreigner, was cooperative however, uncertain of the nation’s authorized system, she by no means requested for a warrant. She was accused of fraud. The truth is, Mambetov was the sufferer of an id rip-off. A conman whom she first met at a health heart had stolen her id in a fancy rip-off and charged some $1.3 million to her enterprise. Arrested for the crime, he was charged by the Inside London Crown Courtroom with six counts of fraud. But, he skipped bail and fled the nation — all earlier than Mambetov was detained by the police.

The identical con artist had additionally claimed to be a consultant of different celebrities in web transactions, together with Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift.

Regardless of realizing she was not chargeable for the crime, Mambetov was saved in jail for greater than two years as a result of she was deemed a flight danger. A lot of that point was spent at HMP Bronzefield, a maximum-security girls’s jail close to London, the place Mambetov, who’s Black, mentioned she skilled excessive racism.


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Fashion designer Elle B. Mambetov. Photo courtesy of Elle B. Mambetov

Dressmaker Elle B. Mambetov. Photograph courtesy of Elle B. Mambetov

“America has its personal racism and points however, what I skilled in the UK was a really totally different degree and broadly unfold type of racism,” she informed Faith Information Service. “There’s usually an eerie silence about it and infrequently folks present their angle not with their phrases however their actions. Within the jail system, I used to be handled by means of a racial lens.”

Generally in her cell, she mentioned, she contemplated suicide. At different occasions she dreamed of a triumphant return to the world of style. She documented a lot of her ordeal in a e-book, “A6347DW: American Captive.”

Raised a Christian, Mambetov was shocked by the dearth of help she obtained from her religion neighborhood. “After I went into jail, each Christian apart from my mom deserted me,” she mentioned, including that she wrote letters to each Christian she knew they usually “did nothing.”

“Christians who had been in my life had been fully gone,” she mentioned.

Ultimately, she mentioned, her mom’s letters to Congress attracted the eye of the U.S. authorities to her case, which contributed to her launch. Mambetov is searching for authorized motion because of her ordeal and says she nonetheless suffers from post-traumatic stress dysfunction.

Upon her launch, she was informed she would don’t have any felony file and could be given a one-way ticket out of the UK. She selected Los Angeles.

In California, Mambetov took up residence at an Airbnb close to Los Angeles Worldwide Airport for a time. The proprietor of the property knew all about leaving a rustic below duress. Selim Mambetov, a Crimean Tatar, had left Ukraine not lengthy after Crimea was seized by Russian army forces in 2014. His father had been a Crimea language media character and earlier than the Russian occupation he had pursued a artistic profession of his personal. Right now, he works on fixing Los Angeles’ giant homeless downside. The 2 quickly fell in love.

Virtual modeling of Elle B Zhou fashions. Video screengrab

Digital modeling of Elle B Zhou fashions. Video display screen seize

“As a Christian I used to be taught you couldn’t marry a non-Christian. After jail, after the way in which which so-called Christians, besides my mom, handled me I didn’t care what folks thought of a Christian marrying a Muslim,” she informed RNS.

Mambetov transformed to Islam not lengthy after, she mentioned, as a part of a private religious journey that began when she was nonetheless in jail. She returned to the world of style however with a give attention to the modest style motion standard with many Muslim customers.


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She revived her model Elle B Zhou throughout Ramadan 2020. Her current womenswear assortment, titled “Let the Stars Be Our Information,” included a constellation map of the celebrities over Mecca and featured Egyptian actress Huda El Mufti. 

For a short time, Mambetov additionally ran an Elle B Zhou luxurious boutique on the Beverly Middle in Los Angeles. Amid such stores as Burberry, Tiffany’s and Fendi, her model supplied a special aesthetic. With Quranic verses on show, Allah diamond necklaces on the market and no music pumping by means of its audio system, Mambetov hoped to place clients in a extra reflective temper. 

Virtual modeling of Elle B Zhou fashions. Video screengrab

Digital modeling of Elle B Zhou fashions. Video display screen seize

“I wished to create an area that was extra deeply rooted, that was inclusive of all and that was additionally halal,” she mentioned. Nonetheless, the shop’s foot visitors included clients of all stripes, from Muslim People to Hollywood celebrities.  

Quite a few components, together with hidden charges, differing visions for the house and growing road crime in Los Angeles, led Mambetov to shut the situation. She now hopes to open a division retailer centered on modest style someplace within the Beverly Hills space. She additionally plans to open a boutique in Qatar, the place she maintains an workplace and has partnered with the web luxurious procuring boutique Farfetch.

“I’ve been touring internationally my complete life with out concern. However, the primary time I went to journey with a hijab I had a special expertise. I used to be pulled apart. I informed the individuals who had been interrogating me that this had by no means occurred to me earlier than however they insisted it was ‘routine questioning’ and nothing irregular,” Mambetov mentioned. When she arrived at her vacation spot she found a Rimowa suitcase she had been touring with had been damaged by the Transportation Safety Administration.

She hopes her work could be a bridge between two very totally different ideas of style. For a designer who describes herself because the “Woman Gaga of modest style,” her line consists of vibrant colours and lighthearted use of Arabic script. 

“Most individuals, after they endure the setbacks of their trade or life, they transfer on,” mentioned Selim Mambetov, her husband. “They don’t return and begin from nothing like she has. And never solely that, she has been capable of soar even greater than earlier than.”

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