Regional talent shone bright at the capital’s inaugural Abaya and Jalabiya Exhibition held at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Intricately embroidered abayas, colourful jalabiyas, striking bishts, flowing kaftans, regal evening gowns and classic everyday dresses designed by women from the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were on display in a show that was equal parts contemporary, traditional, modest and extravagant.
“These designers have an unbelievable, wonderful talent,” says Khalid Ahmed Khouri, chairman of Al Bader Exhibition Organisers, the company behind the five-day event that closed yesterday. “They are adding their own modern twists on traditional clothing – that is the essence of the modest, elegant Muslim woman – and it’s about time we organise an exhibition to showcase this important side of fashion.”
Many of the designers, says Khouri, don’t have boutiques but are successfully reaching customers through social media and WhatsApp. “This type of exhibition is necessary for them to grow as a business,” he says.
• The next edition of the Abaya and Jalabiya Exhibition is at Adnec from January 10 to January 14, 2017. To participate, contact Al Bader Exhibition Organisers on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 04 273 2212
A jalabiya is often worn under an abaya, or as loungewear in the home. This doesn’t mean, however, that it has to be plain or dull. Abu Dhabi fashion house Aimentlamode Couture carries a line of silk jalabiyas that are always belted to define the waist. This turquoise number, with a splash of colour on the sleeves, is a bestseller.
• Order through Instagram @aimentlamode_couture or WhatsApp (056 621 8063)
Queen Sheen Fashion
This black, evening abaya in embroidered lace, embellished with black beads, is by Iranian fashion designer Shafiqa Mirahmadi, who owns a small shop in Dubai but prefers to receive orders through Whats App. “A woman can never have too many abayas, because she needs a specific kind of abaya for every occasion,” says Mirahmadi.
Her 19-year-old son, Neema, who is studying photography and art, hopes to pursue fashion design and join his mother in the business.
“Maybe once he is ready, we will open up a real boutique.”
• Order through Instagram @Queen.Sheen.Fashion or WhatsApp (055 860 1848)
Dh900 (adult) & Dh450 (child)
Based in Al Ain, Larosha Fashions by Emirati designer Mozza Al Shamsi distinguishes itself with its matching mother-and-daughter jalabiyas. “If a woman wants a jalabiya made for her daughter that is an exact replica of the jalabiya she purchased from us, we can do it,” says Al Shamsi.
This particular jalabiya, with matching bisht cover-up, is influenced by the signature Van Cleef & Arpels shape, known as Alhambra. “It’s a bestseller because of the shape,” says Al Shamsi. “And because it’s so colourful.”
• Order through Instagram @Larosha_fashions or WhatsApp (050 447 4402)
Dar Al Mazyooneh
Emirati designer Kaltham Al Kassab hand-painted the tulips on this forest-green, satin evening gown.
“I want every dress to be one-of-a-kind and to me, fashion is art, so why not create art on the dress,” says the Dubai designer. “When you love something, it’s easy to be creative and do it well, and I found a way to combine my love for both art and fashion.”
• Order via WhatsApp (055 615 9048) or BBPIN (239E3BEE).
Palace Versailles Fashion
Dh6,000 to buy; Dh3,000 to rent
With a boutique at Abu Dhabi’s World Trade Center Mall, the Palace Versailles Fashion stands out from the rest by offering customers the chance to rent evening gowns and wedding dresses.
Emirati owner and designer Mahra Mohammed loves the detail on this fitted, nude evening dress, which is overlaid with dozens of silk flowers and Swarovski crystals. “Something like this takes two full weeks of work to make,” says Mohammed. “Then we custom fit it.”
• Visit the shop, or order through Instagram @palaceversailles or WhatsApp (056 445 9445)
Emirati designer Zahra Karmostaji likes to mix Indian and Moroccan influences in her dresses, abayas and jalabiyas. A love for fashion resulted in her first collection in 2000, and her business has grown since then.
“This is what I love to do. I never got the chance to study it, it just wasn’t done back then, but I am right to stick by it now all my customers say so,” says Karmostaji, who tends to create dresses that are of one tone but with several different textures.
This gown, for example, is a blush pink-peach colour throughout, but Karmostaji chose a velvet material for the bodice, silk overlaid with lace for the skirt and a thick satin for the waist-defining belt.
“It needed a pop of colour, so I handmade these appliqué flowers and I especially love the cobalt blue ones,” she says. “It is one of a kind – I only ever make a dress once and that’s it.”
• Order through Instagram @zahrakarmostaji or WhatsApp (050 452 8585)
This fitted, cap-sleeve, black minidress – hand embroidered with orange, pink and burgundy flowers and cascading leaves, with the waterfall of black, floor-length organza – is a favourite creation of Egyptian designer Ghada El Rewiny.
“I used to make abayas and jalabiyas because they are my bread and butter, but my passion now is in cocktail and couture dresses,” says El Rewiny, who opened her atelier in Sharjah five years ago.
“I source my fabrics from Italy and France and I create dresses that I always hope are simple and elegant.”
• Order through Instagram @rewinydesigns or WhatsApp (050 485 4934)
This sky-blue, bisht-like kaftan, made of linen and laid over a plain, fitted, ivory jalabiya, was designed by Emirati sisters Hessa and Moza Al Samahi, 21 and 23 respectively, with input from their mother, Sharifa Al Belushi. The sisters, who live in Fujairah, have been in love with fashion since their early teens. “Hessa is the artist and designer and Moza takes care of the business side of things,” says Al Belushi. “I choose fabrics and oversee everything.”
• Order through Instagram @reemas_sisters or WhatsApp (050 489 6667)
Dh3,500 (dress) and Dh2,000 (abaya)
Maryam Al Suwaidi has been designing abayas, jalabiyas and evening dresses for 13 years. Her boutique, based in Umm Al Quwain, is also home to a cafe and restaurant.
“When women come to my store, they spend the day and I want them to be comfortable while we create their fashions for them,” says Al Suwaidi. She specialises in high-end abayas that can be worn over evening gowns.
“The abaya doesn’t always have to cover what’s underneath. Sometimes, it has to set the stage for the dress.”
This yellow silk dress with a cut-out open back and embellished with crystals, pearls and rhinestones at the waist and neckline is offset by a tulle black abaya with embroidered lace.
• Order through Instagram @Dartsamim
Hala Almoosa has been taking her abayas, dresses and jalabiyas to exhibitions across the region for 14 years. Her boutique is in Manama, Bahrain, but her customers come from across the GCC.
“They especially like my wedding abayas,” she says, pointing at this black number made of tulle and chiffon.
“The abaya is transparent like this to show off the evening gown underneath, but as traditional women, we cannot just go out in an evening gown without an abaya to cover up, even if we’re going to a wedding. But we also can’t just wear a regular abaya – that’s where my creations, using organza or lace or chiffon and always handcrafted and with intricate details, come in.”
• Order through Instagram @halamoosa or WhatsApp (056 1377 886).
Eleganza La Mode
Emirati designer Rasha Noor Eldin can often be found in her boutique in Dubai’s Al Wasl Road, which she established eight years ago. There, she sketches all day and designs abayas and jalabiyas for a clientele that values modesty.
“I only design things that I would wear myself, and I’m a modest woman,” she says. “I love adding my touch to every design, and I create things that I can’t find in the market but want in my own wardrobe. A woman can be beautiful and elegant but not forsake her modesty, and this is what I create.”
This pistachio silk jalabiya, accompanied by a mint lace cover-up in the style of a Moroccan bisht, is a bestseller in her boutique.
• Order through Instagram @eleganzalamode or WhatsApp (050 459 6446).
This black-and-white newsprint abaya, embellished with oversized pearls, is a creation by Chinese designer Apple Wang. Based in Ajman, Wang began designing abayas out of respect for the traditions of her Emirati husband.
“I didn’t want to sit at home; I’m a working woman,” says Wang. “But I also need to showcase my own style and my love for vintage and retro designs and everything Channel.”
Her signature abayas are a blend of polyester and linen and are never a plain black; there’s always something unexpected – in this case, newsprint.
“I see inspiration everywhere, from my cat or a movie or my neighbourhood. Why not newspapers?”
• Order through Instagram @Abayat_Applewang or WhatsApp (050 206 4566)
Source: art & life