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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Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari

Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari
Updated 14 May 2021

Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari

Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari
  • Banarsi silk was a luxurious hand-woven fabric once made in the city of Khairpur, in Sindh
  • No official data exists on the history of the industry and the stories are told by the weavers themselves

SINDH: At the Banarsi Silk Weavers’ Colony in the city of Khairpur, in Sindh, 47-year-old merchant Zafar Abbas Ansari was waiting, hoping for a few additional orders of silk Banarsi saris as Eid Al-Fitr approached.
The sari is a garment native to South Asia, where a long piece of cloth is wrapped elaborately around the body — usually in cotton or silk — and worn with a matching blouse.
Although the city does not make Banarsi any longer — it is now made in Karachi, more than 400 km away — customers still come to the city to purchase the fabric.
Inside the deserted 70-year-old market — once a bustling place — Zafar’s shop is among the last three Banarsi shops left. His family is one of the 40 weaver families who brought the industry to Khairpur when they migrated from India in 1952.
“It is almost two decades since Khairpur stopped producing Banarsi saris after the industry’s collapse. However, even today, the brand is popular among customers. They keep demanding Khairpur’s brand,” Zafar told Arab News.
In its heyday, Khairpur’s Banarsi sari was synonymous with luxury, with vendors supplying the fabric not only locally but also exporting to Pakistani families living in the UK and other European countries.
Inside Zafar’s shop, unstitched pieces of colorful saris — the blouse, the petticoat and main sari fabric — are displayed. The shop shows off different varieties of saris, including the traditional katan — a plain woven fabric with pure silk threads — chiffon, as well as synthetic fabrics.
“Banarsi sari has distinction and standing,” Zafar said proudly. “It is worn by royal families because of its grace and elegance. In some families it is an essential part of the bridal trousseau.”


The price of a sari depends upon its type. The most expensive sari fabric available in the Khairpur market currently is worth Rs45,000 ($300) a piece
Khairpur’s Banarsi Silk Weavers’ Colony is named after the city of Banaras in India (now Varanasi) because of the silk weavers who migrated from there.
There are no official records, and the story of the garment comes from the weavers themselves. They say the history of the Banaras sari industry in Khairpur is linked with Ghulam Saddiquah Begum — the wife of Khairpur state’s then ruler, Mir Ali Murad Khan Talpur of the Talpur dynasty.
Saddiquah Begum herself came from Bahawalpur state, and in 1949, the weavers said, during a visit to India’s Hyderabad Deccan, she offered Mohammed Yusuf Ansari — a sari trader from Banaras — the chance to start manufacturing in Khairpur.
She is said to have offered her state’s support for the establishment of the manufacturing units required.
In 1952, about 40 families of the Ansari clan migrated from Banaras to Khairpur and sari manufacturing began on handlooms. Later, the saris were exported to other countries.
Arab News could not independently verify this information.
According to Anjum Sajjad Ansari, grandson of Muhammad Yusuf Ansari and a representative of the Banarsi Silk Weavers’ Association Khairpur, at its peak there were 400 handlooms in Khairpur. Today, not a single handloom remains.
“At Khairpur’s Banarsi Silk Weavers Colony today there are 16 houses of traditional weavers. However only three are involved in this business of selling Karachi-made fabric,” Anjum said.
Like elsewhere, the Banarsi brand was associated with pure silk thread work. Initially, Khairpur used silk imported from China, but later the silk came from Punjab’s Changa Manga as Pakistan developed hatching silkworms and silk fiber producing factories.
The whole family engaged in the manufacturing process, including silk weaving, dyeing, warping, and reeling. It took between two to three days’ work to complete a single sari.
The silk weaving industry was thriving into the 1960s.
“In 1965, Pakistan’s President Ayub Khan visited and gave incentives and subsidies that boosted the industry,” said Anjum.
“However, in the later years successive governments paid little heed to this industry, and manufacturing units were shifted to Karachi by 2000,” he said.
For Anjum, there is still a chance to revive the past glory of Khairpur.
“We have given proposals to the government at different forums. But nothing has been done yet. The Banarsi sari has become a trademark for Khairpur,” he said.
“Khairpur’s distinction was to produce only handmade silk fabric, unlike other areas where machines are involved. If the government is sincere, factories could be re-established and skilled laborers could be recalled once more from Karachi.”


Catwalk star Gigi Hadid celebrates ‘World Keffiyeh Day’ in honor of signature Arab print

Catwalk star Gigi Hadid celebrates ‘World Keffiyeh Day’ in honor of signature Arab print
Gigi Hadid is the daughter of Dutch model Yolanda Hadid and US-Palestinian real estate developer Mohamed Hadid. File/AFP
Updated 12 May 2021

Catwalk star Gigi Hadid celebrates ‘World Keffiyeh Day’ in honor of signature Arab print

Catwalk star Gigi Hadid celebrates ‘World Keffiyeh Day’ in honor of signature Arab print

DUBAI: Gigi Hadid decided to celebrate her Palestinian roots this week. The half-Arab model took to her Instagram Stories to embrace “World Keffiyeh Day,” an initiative launched by the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, on May 11, 2016, in an effort to shed light on the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict. 

The premise of the unofficial event is to show solidarity with Palestinians by donning the checkered black-and-white scarf around the neck or head.

In honor of the annual day, the catwalk star posted a throwback photo of herself wearing a keffiyeh-style top from Chanel’s 2015 cruise collection, which was staged in Dubai. 

The 26-year-old posted a throwback of herself wearing a keffiyeh-style top designed by Chanel. Instagram

“It’s #worldkeffiyehday,” wrote Hadid, alongside the Palestinian flag and red heart emojis.

She also reposted an infographic highlighting the significance of the keffiyeh patterns. 

“Thank you @GiGiHadid for participating in World Keffiyeh Day and raising your voice,” wrote the initative on its official Twitter account.

The 26-year-old is the daughter of Dutch model and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Yolanda Hadid and US-Palestinian real estate developer Mohammed Hadid, whose family fled to Lebanon from Palestine as refugees in 1948.

The model occasionally takes to social media to speak about her paternal Palestinian heritage and celebrate her Arab roots.

“I’m as Palestinian as I am Dutch. Just because I have blonde hair, I still carry the value of my ancestors and I appreciate and respect that,” she previously said during a promotional campaign for Reebok in Sydney.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid)

Gigi and her younger sister Bella also often use their platforms to voice their support for Palestinian people by sharing posts explaining the rising tensions in the region.

“You will not erase Palestine,” read one of the illustrations that Gigi shared on her Instagram stories following the Al-Aqsa Mosque attack this week.

Gigi posted a picture of her father’s US passport on Instagram.

She also shared a photograph of her father’s long-expired US passport, which states his birthplace as Palestine. Bella had previously shared the same picture last year, but Instagram had taken it down. After the model publicly criticized the platform for its move, Instagram eventually apologized to Bella and restored her post.

Other celebrities to voice their support for Palestine include British-Albanian pop star Dua Lipa, Algerian model Younes Bendjima, singer The Weeknd and “Avengers” star Mark Ruffalo. 


Model Imaan Hammam donates to causes close to heart

Model Imaan Hammam donates to causes close to heart
Imaan Hammam donated to three important causes. Instagram
Updated 12 May 2021

Model Imaan Hammam donates to causes close to heart

Model Imaan Hammam donates to causes close to heart

DUBAI: Moroccan-Egyptian-Dutch model Imaan Hammam made donations to three causes as Ramadan came to an end.

Writing on Instagram, she said: “It’s so important to remember to give back and support the communities and people who need it.”

Among the initiatives the 24-year-old donated to was Preemptive Love, a non-profit organization that helps with emergency relief on the frontlines of conflict and supports displaced communities by selling refugee-made goods.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

Hammam also revealed that she donated funds to Islamic Relief USA and Muslims of the World to “give humanitarian aid to Palestine, sustain clean water and sanitation, feed orphans in Yemen and Afghanistan, and provide support and relief for refugees.”

She added: “I’m so happy to lend my platform to bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis happening throughout Islamic states.”


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