Startup of the Week: Jilbab_NR: Putting a creative twist on the bisht

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Jilbab_NR’s signature Ramadan 2019 collection. (Courtesy Jilbab_NR Instagram)
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Jilbab_NR’s signature Ramadan 2019 collection. (Courtesy Jilbab_NR Instagram)
Updated 16 April 2019
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Startup of the Week: Jilbab_NR: Putting a creative twist on the bisht

RIYADH: The bisht is traditionally donned by Saudi men, a long cloak worn over thobes that is usually made of wool and available in neutral colors. But three Saudi women are putting a twist on the bisht by feminizing it and dialing up the glamor.

Jilbab_NR was founded in 2010 by sisters Nejoud and Nouf Sharbatly and their friend Rehab Mirdad. Together they combined their ideas and love for traditional Saudi garments and embarked on a cultural fashion journey. Their first collection? The bisht-abaya. They began with gold and silver embroidery on black fabric, later branching out into bolder colors and designs.

The business is based in Jeddah and has a thriving clientele base across Saudi Arabia, Nouf said. There may not be a store but they always showcase their latest collection on Instagram and in bazaars.

Their Instagram account has more than 35,000 followers and features distinctive garments for different tastes — pastels, pinstripes, and prints, belted, embroidered, zipped and floral.

“We are blessed to have beautiful and loyal customers that always give us their positive feedback and make us design the best for them,” Nouf told Arab News. They constantly seek the latest trends and styles for their clients “but with a jilbab fingerprint on it.”

The trio have created the royal bisht, which is a lush abaya, their signature bisht-abaya, which has the look and feel of an abaya but with the embroidery of a bisht, and the vest-bisht, which is sleeveless and made of sheer material and can be thrown over jeans and a top for a casual but elegant look.

The bishts come in different colors, from Tiffany & Co.’s signature duck-egg blue to maroon and black. The spectrum is one of the things that sets them apart from other brands, which have begun copying the trios’ style.

“Alhamdulillah, the jilbab has been in the Saudi market now for nine years. It is known and recognized from its design and styles that you cannot miss, no matter how many copies we see in the market. That’s normal and it makes us happy and proud because that’s the sign of success,” said Nouf.

Since then Jilbab_NR has expanded and created different abayas and jalabiyas. One of its more exquisite pieces is the Goyard abaya, which is beaded by hand and named after the French label. “We don’t have time to do a proper photo shoot, because whenever we post a picture on Instagram the abayas or thobes sell out.”

Jilbab_NR’s latest collection will be for Ramadan. Nouf said they were special and colorful abayas and jalabiyas with the holy month’s “vibes, spirit and style on them.”

Find them on Instagram: Jilbab_NR


Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

Elie Jr. and Christina Mourad. (Social media)
Updated 23 July 2019
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Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

  • The tourism leader said the situation was to do with Lebanese ego, but he emphasized that wedding parties held in Lebanon could be better than those staged abroad on all levels

BEIRUT: Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab has been hailed by tourism chiefs for staging his son’s lavish wedding reception on home turf.
The influential Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafés, Night-Clubs and Pastries in Lebanon saluted Saab “for holding the wedding party of his son, Elie Jr., and the Lebanese bride, Christina Mourad, in Lebanon instead of abroad, as do tens of Lebanese leaders and lords.
“Holding wedding parties abroad has deprived the tourism sector as well as other sectors in Lebanon of important revenues that can revive the national economy,” the syndicate said.
The nonprofit body that represents restaurateurs, added that the glittering event had “turned the country into a huge wedding attended by more than 3,000 guests from inside and outside Lebanon.
“People shared their joy on social media, communicating Lebanon’s image of civilization and tourism to the world. This wedding filled Lebanese hotels, restaurants and nightclubs and stirred the economic cycle for more than 10 days before and after the wedding. We salute the man who loves peace and Lebanon a thousand times.”
Jean Abboud, president of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon (ATTAL), told Arab News: “The syndicate’s stance comes in response to a phenomenon that emerged a few years ago. Distinguished people have been holding lavish weddings for their children abroad, where they spend millions of dollars. This has not only been done by politicians, but also businessmen and senior employees, as if it has become a trend or an added value.”
The tourism leader said the situation was to do with Lebanese ego, but he emphasized that wedding parties held in Lebanon could be better than those staged abroad on all levels. “We have outstanding wedding planners who get employed to plan weddings abroad,” he added.
Abboud pointed out that the tourist season in Lebanon this year had so far been promising with the number of visitors from GCC countries, and especially Saudi Arabia, up on 2018 figures. He added that the 2019 draft budget approved by Parliament last week had not put “any burdens on the tourism sector.”
Chairman of the Hotel Owners Association in Lebanon, Pierre Al-Ashkar, estimated the cost of wedding parties held by Lebanese people abroad to be around $400 million, including hotel accommodation, purchases and transportation, in addition to the expenses of the wedding itself.
He said: “There is no longer a difference between politicians and businessmen who choose to hold their children’s wedding parties abroad. It is true that these weddings are no more than a few hundred, but their expenses are huge and, therefore, deprive Lebanon of this money.”
Al-Ashkar pointed out that the number of tourists choosing Lebanon this summer had risen, highlighting a significant 30 percent increase in the proportion of visitors from Europe.
“However, the number of tourists from GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, has not been as we had wished,” he added.
“Maybe this is because these tourists, who have not been visiting Lebanon for five to seven years, now have business in other countries or investments in tourist places outside of Lebanon, especially as some countries now offer incentives to attract tourists carrying certain passports and residence permits.”