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.