Dolce & Gabbana abaya line: Yay or nay?

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Updated 12 January 2016

Dolce & Gabbana abaya line: Yay or nay?

Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana unveiled last week its first ever collection of hijabs and abayas, instantly catching the fancy of Muslim fashionistas across borders.
However, not all Saudi fashion designers and bloggers are impressed.
“It’s a bad advertisement, very poor art direction, the model chosen was not good and the abayas are out of fashion,” said Saudi designer Nabila Nazer.
“It is a good step by big brands such as Dolce & Gabbana to recognize our culture and the buying power of Gulf women but they did not do it in the right way,” she added.
Nabila said the collection is probably not meant for Gulf women because “the style of wearing the hijab is not ours, it’s not sophisticated.”
“Had they studied the market well they would have known that those types of abayas are not new here. I like the concept but not the way they did it,” she said.
The abaya range, which according to Style.com/Arabia ‘celebrates the inimitable dolce vita that is distinct to us in the Arab world’ comes in black and neutral hues with a smattering of print.
D&G’s signature lace embellishments, bright floral details and a vibrant lemon print make a strong presence in the collection made in sheer georgette and satin weave charmeuse fabrics.
No information has been released as yet on the prices or regional availability of the collection.
Ghalia Mahmoudi, whose popular blog Vogue Overdosed has around 39,000 followers on Instagram, said D&G failed to cater to the tastes of Muslim women and women in the Gulf, specifically.
“The GCC is the biggest market for most high-end brands so catering to them sounds just right from a business point of view. I am not very impressed by the collection, the designs are not as luxurious as the abayas designed by local designers in the GCC. D&G being a high-end brand, it is expected to design for the elite, however, I don’t think the elite will actually invest in these abayas when they can find better abayas locally,” she said. 
Catering to the Muslim market is a growing focus for luxury designers and high street brands alike as more Muslim women struggle being stylish while modest.
Muslims spent $266 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013 and the figure is predicted to increase to $484 billion by 2019.
The sales of personal luxury goods in the Middle East hit $8.7 billion in 2015 — up from $6.8 billion the year before.
Dolce and Gabbana is not the first high-end brand to target the Muslim market. Tommy Hilfiger and DKNY launched capsule collections for Muslim customers while Monique Lhuillier designed a range of Kaftans for the luxury online retailer Moda Operandi. High street brands Zara and Mango have also offered specially themed collections for Ramadan while H&M’s ad campaign last year featuring their first ever hijab-wearing model was all the rage.
Designer to the stars and co-founder of D&G, Stefano Gabbana, who announced the launch of the collection on his Instagram page, with the hashtag #dgabaya, was flooded with a barrage of comments.
“Do we occidental women need to start wearing the veil, too?” asked one follower in Italian. Gabbana responded (translated from Italian), “@Fatimapetrucci it is only for the Middle East; don’t worry, no one will oblige you to wear a veil… we don’t have that culture, but we should accept the Middle East’s.”
Meanwhile, some are hailing the capsule collection as good news for Muslim women with a fine taste.
Sarah Sabeh Ayoun, a Jeddah-based abaya designer behind the brand ‘Fashion Passion by Sarah’ said although the abayas did not suit her taste, each one of them was a ‘piece of art because of the detail oriented work’.
“I see some great work — the abstract prints combined with the funky ones in addition to the classic flourishes of lace, making the abayas simple but elegant,” she said.
“D&G is helping women in the Middle East to complete their wardrobes consisting of trendy handbags and shoes now with branded abayas,” Sarah added.
Blogger Abeer of Abeer Daily (with around 65,000 Instagram followers) said: “When Juicy and Tory Burch released abayas I hated branded abayas because they were not brand related. But I loved D&G abayas — they’re so brand related, you could easily know that it’s a Dolce and Gabbana abaya. They’re so stylish, I would definitely wear one of them.”
So can we see more Western houses creating collections for the Middle East market? That will probably depend on whether the D&G collection proves to be a hit or a miss. Given the mixed local reactions to the abaya line, for now, it is safe to say the jury is still out.

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Sole DXB highlights: Melody Ehsani’s latest sneaker collaboration inspired by Egypt

Streetwear designer Melody Ehsani takes inspiration from Egypt for latest sneaker collaboration. Supplied
Updated 07 December 2019

Sole DXB highlights: Melody Ehsani’s latest sneaker collaboration inspired by Egypt

  • Los Angeles-based Melody Ehsani recently debuted her hotly-anticipated Air Jordan 1 sneaker in collaboration with Nike
  • The recently-debuted sneaker was inspired by a recent trip to Egypt in March

DUBAI: In recent years, the market for women's streetwear has grown, however, the category is still largely dominated by the male market, as well as male designers. But one designer hoping to change that is Los Angeles-based Melody Ehsani, who recently debuted her hotly-anticipated Air Jordan 1 sneaker in collaboration with Nike.

The streetwear designer, who is of Iranian descent, is the latest woman to collaborate on an Air Jordan sneaker, and one the first women to design a shoe for the Nike-owned brand, alongside the likes of Aleali May, a stylist and model who was the first person to create a unisex Jordan Brand shoe.

As part of the brand’s “Fearless Ones” holiday collection, the shoe boasts an eye-catching detail — a removable gold watch set to the time 2:30, a nod to the basketball legend Michael Jordan. But the iconic basketball player isn’t the only one that Ehsani decided to honor in her collaboration.

In fact, the sneaker was inspired by a recent trip to Egypt, when the law-student-turned-designer accompanied her husband, Red Hot Chilli Pepper bassist Flea, during the band’s unforgettable performance in Giza in March.

The shoe boasts an eye-catching detail — a removable gold watch set to the time 2:30, a nod to the basketball legend Michael Jordan. Supplied

“The pyramids are the most obvious inspiration,“ Ehsani shared with Arab News. “I know it sounds cliché, but once you are there and you realize what the actual scale of them is it’s incredible. Those stones look so small in photographs, but in reality each of them is several stories tall,” she mused.

“Just being in the presence of them made me feel so insignificant and served as a reminder that the world is so much bigger than us,” she added.

Ehsani, who visited Egypt for the first time several years ago, reveals that her second trip to the North African nation was a very special experience.  "I had gone seven years earlier and there were a million tourists, but this time I went with my husband and we got to go on private tours of the pyramids and it was a different and very special vibe.”

Meanwhile, the footwear’s multi-colored red, pink, orange, green and blue panelway was actually inspired by her rainbow manicure during the trip.

Additional details include a hand-written message in marker on the midsole that reads, “If you knew what you had was rare, you would never waste it,” a piece of advice she’d gotten from one of her best friends.

Additional details include a hand-written message in marker on the midsole that reads, “If you knew what you had was rare, you would never waste it.” Supplied

“I was so inspired by that quote that I just wanted to share it with the world,” revealed Ehsani. “Whenever I come across something that’s really inspiring to me, I tend to use my products as a platform to share that information.”

Before the sneakers were released, they had already had a resale price worth $480. To put that into perspective, the original retail price was $130. The high demand served as proof that there is a great market for women who love sneakers, and it’s finally starting to get acknowledged. 

 “Growing up, there was so many things I wanted that just didn’t exist, and shoes were a part of them,” she stated. “A lot of times I had to buy kid’s sizes or the stuff that’s available to women always feels like an afterthought. There’s a whole ‘shrink it and pink it’ phenomenon when it comes to women’s footwear.”

However, the accessories designer is hopeful. “But what’s really great is that since I started eleven years ago, there’s been a dramatic shift in that people are finally starting to identify that there’s a problem. It’s almost like we were asleep on the couch, but now we’ve woken up.”

The sought after footwear, which debuted on Nov. 15, is available for purchase at Dubai’s premiere streetwear festival Sole DXB, which wraps up on Dec. 7.