BEIRUT: Flipping through a Bouguessa look book is like looking at a city skyline: The long, structured silhouettes have an elegant architecture to them, a neatness recalling the gleaming towers that hover above the cosmopolitan bustle.
This year’s Eid edit is no exception, with angular, minimalist cuts in muted colors that speak to an haute design drawing board. The A-line long trench, in a taupe linen, suggests business suite chic, while the puff sleeved button dress features long, crisp panels and metallic stripes, which resemble a skyscraper’s bold facade.
For those eager to make a statement this Eid, the silk kaftan with puffed, petal-like sleeves and subtle gold piping at the rounded collar provides an elegant and modest silhouette.
The pieces in the Holy Month edit bear the brand’s hallmark minimalism, but subtle design elements like marbled buttons and two-toned belts push the collection beyond any brutalist pastiche.
Bouguessa’s designs are distinguished by a sharp attention to tailoring details. With each stitch rigidly accounted for, the starkly elegant pieces speak volumes even without embroidery or ornaments. Best of all, the clean patterns and muted color palette provide the perfect canvas for festive accessories and jewelry.
The brand is the eponymous brainchild of French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa. While the sharp hems on her maxi dresses and severe collars of her signature abayas bespeak fashion-school refinement, Bouguessa taught herself the art of design. Unable to attend expensive fashion institutes in France where she grew up, she learned to sew from her seamstress grandmother and flipped through fashion magazines with her mother from a young age.
While she studied English literature at University, Bouguessa took up internships and apprenticeships with local tailors learning how to cut patterns and select fabrics to create refined, sophisticated clothing.
After moving to the UAE as a flight attendant, Bouguessa launched the label by herself in 2014 in Dubai.
Often playing with modern variations on traditional silhouettes, Bouguessa initially drew attention for creating long robes and elegant, minimalist geometric kaftans — a trend she dubbed the “global abaya.” Taking aesthetic cues from the Islamic wardrobe staple, Bouguessa’s clean, straight lines began to generate buzz well beyond the Middle East.
After a write up in Vogue Italia and subsequently parading her designs down the catwalk at Milan Fashion Week in 2015, Beyoncé donned a geometric, belted abaya by the brand in a photoshoot posted on her website. Two years later, when the songstress donned a green velvet Bouguessa robe in an Instagram photoshoot, the snaps generated millions of likes and the garment sold out almost immediately.
With an exposure boost from Queen B and a canny ability to bridge cultural fashion trends, the brand has developed mass appeal. A regular at Paris Fashion Week, Bouguessa has built upon the “global abaya” motif and now features ready to wear items, from crisp skirts to high-waisted pants.
Bouguessa has successfully integrated the abaya and other garments local to the region — like the Algerian haik — into the global sartorial vocabulary. The pieces serve both as a link between modest and main street fashion and as a reminder of the creative potential in the region.