AFW shows modest fashion all the way from Louisville, Kentucky

The Somali-American sisters founded their brand FLLUMAE in February 2014. (FLLUMAE)
Updated 11 May 2018
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AFW shows modest fashion all the way from Louisville, Kentucky

  • The sibling-driven brand has landed on the sunny shores of Dubai and just showed off its Cruise collection aboard the newly-inaugurated Queen Elizabeth II floating hotel
  • The siblings began taking orders from their local community, revamping revealing dresses into covered-up fashion that was still en vogue and not frumpy

DUBAI: The Kentucky-based Saidi sisters are shaking up modest style and proving that faith-friendly fashion is nothing if not funky, fresh and fabulous.

The Somali-American sisters founded their brand FLLUMAE in February 2014 and within a year-and-a-half were showing off their designs at the pinnacle of all things fashion – New York Fashion Week (NYFW).

Now, the sibling-driven brand has landed on the sunny shores of Dubai and just showed off its Cruise collection aboard the newly-inaugurated Queen Elizabeth II floating hotel, as part of the sixth edition of Arab Fashion Week (AFW) in Dubai.

Set to run until May 12, AFW is bringing together 18 international designers from 13 different countries who are showing off their designs in what has been billed as the world’s first floating fashion week.

Founded in Louisville, Kentucky, FLLUMAE started out as a bid to tackle the lack of modest fashion at the time.

“When we were growing up, if we liked a dress we would be like ‘oh my god, I love this dress, but it doesn’t have any sleeves,’ so we would take it home and sew some sleeves on there,” Fahima Saidi, one of the four sisters behind the brand, told Arab News.  

The siblings began taking orders from their local community, revamping revealing dresses into covered-up fashion that was still en vogue and not frumpy.

“Finally, we decided to commit and we took a big risk, we all left our professions to work on this business as designers,” Saidi said, adding that she used to be a medical interpreter before her jump into the fast-paced world of high fashion.

It has been an “amazing journey” since then, and the brand made it to NYFW far sooner than the sisters had planned.

“It happened so quickly, I thought it would take five to seven years to get to the level of presenting at NYFW, but it was a year-and-half and we were there,” she said of their 2016 debut at the coveted fashion event.

“It is one of our favorite moments, because when we presented our collection the whole crowd stood up and clapped for us.”

From the concrete jungle to the lapping waves of Dubai’s Port Mina Rashid, Saidi said the sisters’ decision to take part in AFW was partly motivated by the desire to “help our brand be recognized in that region of the world.”

On Thursday night, models took to the catwalk in FLLUMAE’s signature mix of fringed pants and dresses, gorgeous floral embellishments and bright mix of candy colors — and the crowd lapped it up.

“It is high, mainstream fashion and it caters to women of faith — and not just women of faith, but any woman. You don’t have to be a woman of faith to wear our clothing.

“If you are a modest-clothing wearer, it’s a plus because this line gives you stuff to wear that is fully lined and (you can be) fully-dressed in a comfortable way,” Saidi said.


Opulence goes low: China opens luxury hotel in quarry

Updated 15 November 2018
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Opulence goes low: China opens luxury hotel in quarry

  • The subterranean 17-floor hotel is about an hour’s drive from the center of Shanghai,
  • ‘It’s a project that’s completely new, a project we have never encountered before’

SHANGHAI: A hotel development sunk into a disused quarry in China opened its doors Thursday to deep-pocketed clientele.
Preventing the 88-meter-deep (290 feet) pit from flooding was among the chief challenges for engineers working on the swanky 336-room InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland — part of a $288 million development that also includes a theme park.
The hotel, which is one of a growing number of bold architectural designs springing up in China, hugs one side of the pit wall, with a waterfall cascading down the opposite face.
The subterranean 17-floor hotel is about an hour’s drive from the center of Shanghai, with room charges starting at 3,394 yuan ($490) a night.
There is a floor of suites below the water level, but don’t expect to gaze directly into the depths of Shenkeng Quarry — the windows are instead buffered by large fish tanks.
“Why do we say there is nothing in the world that compares to the quarry hotel project?” Chen Xiaoxiang, chief engineer with the real estate giant, Shimao Property, said.
“It’s a project that’s completely new, a project we have never encountered before.
“There were no references, cases or experience we could learn from to solve all the difficulties,” he said.
That meant engineers were met with unexpected problems.
Before construction started in 2013, for example, heavy rainfall caused a nearby river to overflow into the quarry, filling half of it.
“If something like that had happened after construction was complete, it would have been a devastating blow,” Chen said.
Designers built an embankment around the edge of the pit to prevent that happening in future, when hundreds of well-heeled guests are sipping cocktails on the deck far below.
A pump house is used to help regulate water levels.
The waterfall is one of the development’s most eye-catching features. Adventurous guests can also indulge in rock climbing.
The project’s masterminds talk up its environmental bona fides, saying abandoned quarries often become landfills.
“This was a totally unique idea, to really do something special with a site that was forgotten and nobody knew what to do with, and to give it new life,” said Martin Jochman, a British architect with the project since it started 12 years ago.
“I never lost my belief that it would be done one day, but it is here now, and I am really excited and amazed by the whole thing,” he said.
China’s rapid economic growth has been accompanied by a construction boom that often throws up outlandish designs.
The Beijing headquarters of state broadcaster China Central Television has been nicknamed “The Big Underpants” because it resembles a giant pelvis.
A skyscraper built this year in southwestern China features a 108-meter waterfall tumbling down one side.