Stitch in time: Saudi fashion dresses for the future

Stitch in time: Saudi fashion dresses for the future
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The Saudi Cup showcased traditional outfits, with the Ministry of Culture’s fashion commission encouraging a dress code that required racegoers to highlight their heritage. (Supplied)
Stitch in time: Saudi fashion dresses for the future
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Designers showcased their exclusive works, mixing the contemporary with the old. (Supplied)
Stitch in time: Saudi fashion dresses for the future
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Designers showcased their exclusive works, mixing the contemporary with the old. (Supplied)
Stitch in time: Saudi fashion dresses for the future
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Designers showcased their exclusive works, mixing the contemporary with the old. (Supplied)
Stitch in time: Saudi fashion dresses for the future
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Designers showcased their exclusive works, mixing the contemporary with the old. (Supplied)
Stitch in time: Saudi fashion dresses for the future
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Designers showcased their exclusive works, mixing the contemporary with the old. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 March 2021

Stitch in time: Saudi fashion dresses for the future

Stitch in time: Saudi fashion dresses for the future
  • Traditional wear gets a modern makeover as designers keep the past alive

JEDDAH: As Saudi Arabia sets out to introduce its culture, history and social life to a global audience, fashion is finding it has a key role to play in the Kingdom’s “brand strategy.”

Traditional wear proudly worn by both Saudis and expats at the recent Saudi Cup showed how age-old cultural styles could find new life in a contemporary setting.
While fashions can reflect a specific era, they also can act as a transition to the future, with fabrics, cuts, motifs and embroidery designs, and even colors and layers, keeping the story alive.
The Saudi Cup showcased traditional outfits, with the Ministry of Culture’s fashion commission encouraging a dress code that required racegoers to highlight their heritage, and designers to showcase their exclusive works, mixing the contemporary with the old.
Although Western outfits dominate the world fashion market, Saudi Arabia is choosing to stay connected with its traditional dress.
Saudi designers are constantly introducing new trends in the way outfits are made or worn, finding inspiration in age-old styles or seeking to bring the traditional clothing of a region into the present.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Although Western outfits dominate the world fashion market, Saudi Arabia is choosing to stay connected with its traditional dress.

• Saudi designers are constantly introducing new trends in the way outfits are made or worn, finding inspiration in age-old styles or seeking to bring the traditional clothing of a region into the present.

• Mohammed Khoja, a fashion designer who uses traditional approaches in his contemporary work, believes that his collections help shed light on cultural elements that appeal to both local and international audiences. 

• International events, from Eid celebrations at Saudi missions across the globe to overseas university students celebrating an occasion, allow Saudis to don traditional clothing to represent their homeland.

• Omaima Kindassa, a Saudi designer and owner of a contemporary heritage boutique, said that events such as the Saudi Cup allowed Saudis to represent their own region and culture, as well as show the Kingdom’s rich heritage and diverse culture to the world.

• Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, the designer behind Nuun Jewels, hoped to represent the historical beauty and color of traditional Saudi clothing in a way that encouraged people to embrace and celebrate their culture.

Mohammed Khoja, a fashion designer who uses traditional approaches in his contemporary work, said: “Since the beginning of my fashion design career, cultural elements have appealed to me. I am particularly driven by being able to contribute in documenting and potentially giving cultural elements more importance.”
Khoja believes that his collections help shed light on cultural elements that appeal to both local and international audiences.




Traditional wear proudly worn by both Saudis and expats showed how age-old cultural styles could find new life in a contemporary setting.

The same elements have also helped him identify with his own contemporary identity, he said.
Omaima Kindassa, a Saudi designer and owner of a contemporary heritage boutique, said that events such as the Saudi Cup allowed Saudis to represent their own region and culture, as well as show the Kingdom’s rich heritage and diverse culture to the world.
“I’ve been designing and modernizing traditional Saudi wear for 10 years,” Kindassa told Arab News. “Now many younger designers are pursuing that as well because they have fallen in love with our heritage.”
She added: “If the current generation were to wear traditional clothes, they would find them overbearing and heavy, especially accessory-embellished designs and those adorned by stones. Modernizing these outfits makes them relevant to today’s generation and ensures our tradition keeps pace with fashion.”




The Saudi Cup showcased traditional outfits, with the Ministry of Culture’s fashion commission encouraging a dress code that required racegoers to highlight their heritage, and designers to showcase their exclusive works, mixing the contemporary with the old. (Supplied)

Kindassa specializes in traditional wear from the Kingdom’s regions but also modern clothing “that tell tales of the long past.”
“Each region offers its own rich heritage through its designs, from the geometric elegant shapes, the vibrant colors, the embroidery — it looks like a painting to admire,” she said.
International events, from Eid celebrations at Saudi missions across the globe to overseas university students celebrating an occasion, allow Saudis to don traditional clothing to represent their homeland.
Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, the designer behind Nuun Jewels, told Arab News that the Saudi Cup was a “great opportunity to present the variety, regionality and beauty that is Saudi culture.”


She was brought in as a consultant for the project, a link between the Saudi Cup and the Ministry of Culture, “to curate the event in terms of looks and feel.”
Princess Nourah said the idea to promote traditional Saudi fashion was not hers, but came from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The princess hoped to represent the historical beauty and color of traditional Saudi clothing in a way that encouraged people to embrace and celebrate their culture. She also wanted people to take ownership of their heritage, and see designers and communities using it as inspiration for future designs.
“So not just reproducing traditional cultural dress, but also taking it as a point of reference and moving forward into the future, recreating it, developing it and having fun with it by creating something completely new,” she said.
Impressed with the outcome, she hopes to build on this momentum where people celebrate culture every day.
“There are a number of entities within Saudi Arabia, organizations that are all about preserving our heritage; things like regional embroidery, jewelry, costumes, and really making sure that they’re archiving it, whether through photographs or through the actual pieces. I think that is something that we have been working on as a nation either in the private sector or the public sector for a while,” she said.

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US actress, mogul Jessica Alba shows off Arab labels in New York

Jessica Alba showed off a pair of earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. (Getty Images)
Jessica Alba showed off a pair of earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. (Getty Images)
Updated 11 May 2021

US actress, mogul Jessica Alba shows off Arab labels in New York

Jessica Alba showed off a pair of earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: US actress and business mogul Jessica Alba showed off a pair of dainty heels by Lebanese designer Andrea Wazen and accessories by part-Arab jewelry designer Ana Khouri while out and about in New York last week.

The actress — who is also the co-founder of the billion-dollar home care business The Honest Company — was in New York to visit NASDAQ headquarters for the IPO of her company.

Later, she was spotted walking in Manhattan and even appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” wearing a pair of dainty rose-colored mules by Wazen.

Alba showed off the Denver mesh mules in pink, which feature a translucent upper, thin ankle strap and elegant pointed toe shape. The heels complemented a dark sage green bag by Celine and a greige trench coat-and-sheath dress combination.

The entrepreneur and actress wore a pair of pink heels by Andrea Wazen. (Getty Images)

Wazen isn’t the only Arab designer Alba flaunted while out and about in New York. She attended the IPO of her company wearing chunky gold statement earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. 

New York-based Khouri has seen her pieces worn by everyone from Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron to Karlie Kloss and Alicia Vikander.

Wazen is also no stranger to celebrity fans, and has seen her designs sported by the likes of actress Gabrielle Union-Wade, model Ashley Graham, Katy Perry, Kylie Jenner and Jennifer Lopez during her “It’s My Party World Tour” in 2019.

The shoe designer is fresh off a win at the Footwear News (FN) Achievement Awards in December, nabbing the Emerging Talent prize.

“What a feeling… I cannot explain the joy and satisfaction I am feeling,” she wrote at the time, before thanking Michael Atmore, chief brand officer and the director of the event, for recognizing her as this year’s emerging talent, stylist Jill Jacobs for presenting her with the award and her team, who she said she couldn’t have “accomplished any of this” without.

“Last but not least, I would like to dedicate this award to my beautiful city, my source of inspiration and my home Beirut,” she wrote.


Startup of the Week: Alia’s Touch; Combination of classic, modern clothing design

Startup of the Week: Alia’s Touch; Combination of classic, modern clothing design
Updated 11 May 2021

Startup of the Week: Alia’s Touch; Combination of classic, modern clothing design

Startup of the Week: Alia’s Touch; Combination of classic, modern clothing design

JEDDAH: Alia Al-Zubaidi’s passion for design led her into becoming an interior designer. But it was her love of fashion that prompted the setting up of her own business, Alia’s Touch.

Her popular twist on the tie-dye technique has seen her incorporating the design into dresses, abayas, and other personalized, hand-painted items of clothing.

The entrepreneur started out producing custom-made pieces for her customers, but as the process developed, she began selling her designs to stores.

“I particularly like printing my designs on the fabric itself. I buy fabrics from different places such as India, Pakistan, Dubai, and the UK. I source a variety of fabrics from around the world and add my unique touch.
It is my work and my hobby,” she said.

Al-Zubaidi described her style of clothes as “classic-modern” and the paint for her recent tie-dyed designs was imported from India.

“Tie-dyed clothes were not a common fashion in Saudi Arabia, so when I started making them, I was skeptical. However, my customers loved the new designs and wanted to buy them immediately,” she added.

As tie-dye became popular in the Kingdom, Al-Zubaidi noticed other fabrics being sold with the designs printed on them.

“I was hand painting each article of clothing at that time, so each piece was different. The challenge I faced at the beginning of my business was finding outlets to sell my products. Any concept stores, or bazaars were extremely expensive.”

The designer draws her inspiration from many sources including the traditional jalabia (a full-length loose dress commonly worn by Saudi women) and produces trendy prints and patterns for younger people.

Although preferring prints, she is not afraid to experiment with embroidery, laces, and different designs.

“I think the biggest thing that designers struggle with is the high cost of making these clothes. There are limited outlets where they can be sold, and the competition is extremely tough,” she said.

Further details on Instagram @alias_touch


Founders of fashion label NIILI seek to share UAE design ethos with the world

Founders of fashion label NIILI seek to share UAE design ethos with the world
Updated 10 May 2021

Founders of fashion label NIILI seek to share UAE design ethos with the world

Founders of fashion label NIILI seek to share UAE design ethos with the world

DUBAI: As UAE-based luxury womenswear label NIILI readies to bring its unique line to Saudi Arabia via the Homegrown Market, a concept store that showcases contemporary emerging Arab brands, the founders spoke to Arab News about their global hopes for the brand that was launched mere weeks before the debilitating COVID-19 pandemic. 

NIILI’s “N21” Fall/Winter 2021/22 capsule collection, which will be available at the Homegrown Market, is inspired by the rich heritage of the UAE and features two of symbols of the country’s culture — palm trees and henna, the ancient art that is commonly used to design women’s hands and feet for weddings and other religious events like Eid. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by NIILI (@niili_official)

A customized pattern melding the two is visible throughout the capsule collection on the label’s signature flowy kaftans. The new line is marked by soft pastels and natural hues, a color palette that was chosen to highlight elegance and femininity.

Launched mere weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the Middle East, NIILI has been fighting to build a name for itself in the competitive fashion market. 

The co-founders of the ready-to-wear brand, Emirati Khaled Al-Zaabi and Spanish Paula Quetglas Llop, discussed the fashion house’s main goals, how the brand is succeeding despite tough times and its new collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by NIILI (@niili_official)

“What we wanted to do was really create a truly wonderful luxury brand out of the region that would cater to the tastes of the region, but also share with the world our own views of design inspiration and luxury,” said Al-Zaabi.  

The entrepreneur said that he wanted to share Emirati culture with the world, but also stay true to the nature of the UAE. “It is a very inclusive country and a very global country to actually have that international view and international appeal,” added the founder. 

For Llop, she believes that this is the best time to “consume local.” She said that with the pandemic, the trend in countries now is to support “what’s going on in one's country.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by NIILI (@niili_official)

When speaking about the effect of the pandemic on NIILI, Al-Zaabi joked: “You could conduct all the analysis and industry studies… and then you launch on the 15th of January 2020, then a few weeks later there is a major global pandemic that hasn’t happened in a hundred years.”

He said that launching during the time of a pandemic was challenging. “It was and still is extremely difficult… tghankfully we are quite a lean structure as well. We’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices as well (with) cuts,” he explained. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by NIILI (@niili_official)

“It also allowed us to revise our strategy, revise our business plans and rethink a lot of aspects,” added Al-Zaabi. 

According to Llop, the major change for NIILI was going entirely digital. “We really had to think about how to proceed to get a space in the digital world that is absolutely flooded with brands and new things,” she said. 

However, the brand has been making moves since its launch. Just last month, NIILI launched on Ounass for customers in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and beyond.


French model Cindy Bruna stars in the L’Oreal x Elie Saab beauty campaign

French model Cindy Bruna stars in the L’Oreal x Elie Saab beauty campaign
Cindy Bruna is one of the most recognizable models in the fashion industry. File/Getty Images
Updated 10 May 2021

French model Cindy Bruna stars in the L’Oreal x Elie Saab beauty campaign

French model Cindy Bruna stars in the L’Oreal x Elie Saab beauty campaign

DUBAI: Cosmetics giant L’Oreal has released a limited-edition makeup collection of nine products with Lebanese couturier Elie Saab. Saab is the latest designer to team up with the cosmetics company, which has partnered with other fashion houses such as Balmain, Isabel Marant and Karl Lagerfeld in the past. The campaign for the L’Oreal x Elie Saab makeup range was unveiled this week, starring French model Cindy Bruna.

The catwalk star appears in a beauty advert wearing a heavily-embellished gossamer dress designed by the Beirut-born couturier. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

Bruna, who was born to an Italian father and a Congolese mother in France, actually landed one of her first modeling jobs for Elie Saab shortly after signing with Wilhelmina Models in 2012. 

She would go on to become one of the most recognizable models in the industry, making headlines as the first Black woman to walk exclusively for Calvin Klein in that same year.

Bruna, has been ranked as a “Money Girl” on models.com, alongside the likes of Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, meaning she is predicted to have longevity in the fashion world. She has walked the runway a clutch of high-end labels, including Chanel, Saint Laurent and Gucci, to name just a few.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

Throughout her career, she has remained loyal to the designer who gave her one of her first modeling gigs and recently served as the face of Elie Saab Parfum’s 10-year anniversary campaign. 

Meanwhile, the exclusive L’Oreal x Elie Saab makeup collection is exactly what you’d expect from a designer beloved by celebrities for his stunning haute couture gowns.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

The nine-piece collection, which marks the designer’s first foray into beauty, includes four shades of lipstick, three creamy lip glosses, a nine-pan eyeshadow palette and an oil-infused mascara. Each comes in sleek, gold-tinged packaging that evokes the luxury of the designer’s signature ethereal gowns.

“My goal has always been to make women look beautiful and this collection allows me to bring an array of products to fit into women’s lives, helping them to feel more elegant and confident,”  Saab said in a statement about the collaboration.


Arab artist Nourie Flayan collaborates with luxury label Carolina Herrera on Eid illustrations

Arab artist Nourie Flayan collaborates with luxury label Carolina Herrera on Eid illustrations
Updated 10 May 2021

Arab artist Nourie Flayan collaborates with luxury label Carolina Herrera on Eid illustrations

Arab artist Nourie Flayan collaborates with luxury label Carolina Herrera on Eid illustrations

DUBAI: Lebanese artist Nourie Flayan is collaborating with US luxury fashion house Carolina Herrera on a set of Eid Al-Fitr illustrations. 

In celebration of the holiday, the brand is releasing a series of illustrations aiming to bring “together friends and families after Ramadan and highlight the strong family values that are at the core of the Carolina Herrera brand heritage,” according to a released statement. 

The artist also used the jasmine flower, which is a tribute to the iconic flower Venezuelan-American designer Carolina Herrera seeks inspiration from. (Supplied)

The illustrations that Flayan created for Carolina Herrera evoke a modern festive atmosphere, which fits both Ramadan and Eid, featuring traditional prints such as the Mashrabiya, an architectural element that is a characteristic of traditional architecture in the Islamic world. 

The artist also used the jasmine flower, which is a tribute to the iconic flower Venezuelan-American designer Carolina Herrera seeks inspiration from — the imperial jasmine.

Many of her illustrations feature multiple hands. (Supplied)

Flayhan is a well-known advocate of women’s rights.

She often draws colorful sketches of women in the region and many of her illustrations feature multiple hands or eyes.

She often draws colorful sketches of women in the region. (Supplied)

Flayhan studied textiles in university before delving into illustration. During her career she has collaborated with international brands such as Shopbop, Gucci, Loewe, Yoox and Selfridges. This is her first collaboration with Carolina Herrera.