Meet Alaa Balkhy


Alaa is a New York-based designer. Born in Jeddah and raised in Montreal, her passion for art developed with her changing surroundings. She eventually returned to her roots in Jeddah, where she earned her bachelor degree in Graphic Design at Dar Al-Hekma University. Alaa’s designs and illustrations evolved tremendously over the next few years, and immediately upon on 2011 graduation, she launched her first full collection for Fyunka. In 2012, she moved to New York to attend graduate school at Pratt Institute, where she earned an M.P.S. in Design Management. She is now working on Minaa Zine, a cultural publication launching in 2017, which she co-founded with Nadia Azmy.



STREETSTYLE DETAILS: Bag, Fyunka ; Shoes, Kenzo ; Dress, Nasiba Hafiz ; Sweater, VINTAGE

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Fyunka was born because I couldn’t find a job straight of out college. I started making illustrations and posting them on my blog. They were a cross between culture, fashion and humor. One of the illustrations received a lot of feedback - both positive and negative. The brand started as a project when I decided that I wanted to have my illustrations on products. Fyunka is now turning six, and it’s still a learning process. After undergrad, I realized I needed to learn how to run this business and evolve, so I went to Pratt for an M.P.S in Design Management, the business side of design.
I usually wake up whenever I wake up - perks of being your own boss - which is around 11 or 12 on weekends. I have this bad habit of checking my emails and social media from bed which usually lasts for about an hour.
I grew up in Montreal until I was about 9, then went back to Jeddah, where I’m originally from. I finished school there and got a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. Getting into design was a happy mistake - the program was relatively new within the country so I thought ‘why not be one of the first Saudi graphic designers?’
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I shop at Zara and COS for basics, and I love buying items from local designers whenever I go home to Jeddah. I usually go for the more neutral colors in basic shapes
  Robe, Mojamajka  ; Jeans, Levis

Robe, Mojamajka ; Jeans, Levis

I love this cookbook called New Feast. Living in New York, you tend to miss home-cooked food. I’ve been getting into the whole ‘let’s only eat out on weekends’ approach. The book is a great mixture of middle eastern recipes that are so simple and doable.
 Alaa's favorite books

Alaa's favorite books

 Some of Alaa's favorite beauty products

Some of Alaa's favorite beauty products

I found out that I’m allergic to fragrance three years ago, so now it all comes down to fragrance-free products. The gentler the product, the better. I love Neutrogena liquid soap. After that, I use the Glossier moisturizer, which is also fragrance free. I also started using Glossier serums which are great. I spent about two years looking for a good deodorant that’s fragrance-free.
 More of Alaa's favorite beauty products

More of Alaa's favorite beauty products

Growing up in Montreal, I constantly noticed culture and cherished it, especially being from another country where things were very different, and you didn’t always have access to culture. My new project, MinaaZine, is a quarterly publication that explores the cultural aesthetic and lifestyles of Middle Eastern and North African cultures, as well as those in the diaspora.






Mile End Deli is my favorite dinner spot in the area

Yemen Cafe on Atlantic has the BEST Yemeni food

Sahadi's is great for Middle Eastern groceries

Bedouin Tent is good for small sandwiches