Sugar Vintage: sweet fashion fusion from Emirates

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Updated 29 September 2012
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Sugar Vintage: sweet fashion fusion from Emirates

Sugar Vintage, a Dubai-based fashion label created in 2008 by Leila Al-Marashi and Hedaya Al-Rahma is creating a buzz in the Gulf region and beyond. Hollywood stars Carey Mulligan, Kelly Brook and Olivia Wilde have already been seen wearing Sugar Vintage, a daring fusion of 1940s fashion and Emirati traditions and culture.
“The perception of Emirati fashion is still very old school; the assumption is that we only design evening wear couture or abayas and there is a huge gap in homegrown brands designing ready-to-wear trendy clothes with good cuts and detail. Much emphasis is put on importing US or European brands, but we have so much creativity, great craftsmanship and quality in our region too” says Leila Al-Marashi.
Fashion has an insatiable appetite. It swings from winter collections to spring, back and forth, in a never ending movement. However, for the last years, women have been turning away from the high street constant changes and focusing on classic, exclusive ethnic and even vintage pieces.
Twenty years ago, vintage clothing was a niche concept but it has since gained momentum. Many fashionistas today possess a piece of vintage in their closet. A one-off vintage haute couture dress, by Yves Saint Laurent, Nina Ricci, Dior, Chanel, Jean Louis Scherrer or Christian Lacroix to name but a few, is traded like fine art in auction houses.
However, Sugar Vintage, despite its name, is not just about vintage. The brand is a regal mix of local influences such as ghutra fabric and dishdasha tassels, as well as Korean, Japanese and Chinese styles. Hedaya Al-Rahma’s owes her eclectic taste to her cosmopolitan upbringing. She lived in Singapore and Australia where her father was posted as a UAE diplomat. Hedaya acknowledges that she has been mostly influenced by Asia whereas Leila Al-Marashi credits London and France. Both women have mixed and fused these foreign influences with traditional aspects of Emirati culture. They believe that the key to their brand is keeping the Emirati identity alive. They have reinvented the ubiquitous abaya adding a modern twist and making it a desirable item to wear.
“The abaya is still as strong in the culture but the way people wear it has changed,” says Al-Marashi.
Sugar Vintage includes dresses, kaftans and T-shirts and is not targeting the Emiratis only. Al-Marashi wants to show the world that Sugar Vintage celebrates the authenticity of Emirati culture in a very tasteful, classy and even fun way. The brand is currently available in twelve countries including cities like Paris and Hong Kong.
A new generation of customers is looking for craft skills and designers who have total control on the brand. Sugar Vintage is not only all about that but it also produces clothes that women all over the world love to buy and wear. This collection of quirky, funky, kitschy and eclectic clothes is definitely fun to wear!

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Huda Al-Nuaimi’s Ramadan edit is giving us real nautical vibes

Updated 20 May 2018
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Huda Al-Nuaimi’s Ramadan edit is giving us real nautical vibes

  • The capsule collection focuses on paisley prints in playful shapes
  • The outfits are ideal for iftar and suhoor gatherings

DUBAI: This Ramadan, Huda Al-Nuaimi, the designer behind the eponymous Emirati contemporary label, has launched a holiday/Ramadan edit, and “summer” is clearly the theme of the day.

Featuring a complimentary color palette of fire engine red, seafoam white and cobalt blue — not to mention the stunning backdrop of the sea in the collection’s look book photographs — the Holiday Collection is all about how rising summer temperatures call “for print and texture to warm up your wardrobe.”


The label notes that the capsule collection focuses on “paisley prints in playful shapes, with bell or flounce sleeves (and) Chikan embroidery (a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow, India) with accentuated shoulders and button details.”

The dresses and abayas are gorgeous. We’re huge fans of the nautical striped dress, which the designer advises to wear with trainers during the day or heels in the evening. We’re also loving the hand-beaded, striped linen abaya-overcoat style outfit, complete with 1990s rendition earrings.
As with any of her collections, women should not be afraid to accessorize.

“I truly believe accessories make an outfit,” Al-Nuaimi — who studied at the London College of Fashion — told Emirates Woman magazine. “It is the piece that takes a look from simple to fun, from day to evening, or from casual to polished. It’s key to get the right balance and know how and when to accessorize.”

Almost every piece in the collection works as a wardrobe staple and can be re-worn again and again, so whatever you decide to invest in will probably come in handy for the rest of the summer season. The blue-and-white printed kaftan and drop shoulder red-and white dress are both particularly handy, even beyond Ramadan. Both flowy, loose dresses are slightly fitted at the waist, boast V-shaped necklines and feature hemlines that end just above the ankle, making them perfect for summer travels and evening iftar gatherings.

Al-Nuaimi is one of the few UAE-born brands to impress international buyers so much that it secured a partnership with a global e-retailer MatchesFashion.com, after the website’s co-founder complimented the designer on her handbag.

She recalls the incident in a conversation with Vogue Arabia, saying: “I was at a MatchesFashion.com event where I met (co-founder) Ruth Chapman, who told me, ‘I love your bag.’ It was my own design and featured embellished pins. She gave me her business card. I gave her a call and she told me that she really liked the concept. That’s when I thought to myself, ‘How can I get them to her?’”
Securing a spot on one if the world’s leading e-retail websites isn’t bad for a brand that was established in 2016.