How India and Middle East continue to influence each other’s fashion  

How India and Middle East continue to influence each other’s fashion  
A model presents a creation by designer JJ Valaya during the FDCI India Couture Week in New Delhi on July 24, 2022. (AFP/File)
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Updated 23 January 2023

How India and Middle East continue to influence each other’s fashion  

How India and Middle East continue to influence each other’s fashion  
  • Many celebrity Arab fashion designers hire Bollywood stars to promote their collections 
  • Designers say Middle Eastern and Indian styles are compatible and complement each other 

NEW DELHI: Exchanges with the Middle East have influenced many aspects of Indian culture, including fashion, with contemporary designers still drawing inspiration from the sartorial links established centuries ago. 

An integral part of men’s and women’s fashion in the Indian subcontinent is shalwar — loose-fitting, pleated trousers — and a tunic known as kameez. 

Considered traditional and everyday dress by many, the outfit traces back its origin to the Middle Eastern influence brought to India by the Mughals who ruled the region between the 16th and 19th centuries. 

With their ancestral domains in Central Asia, the Mughals, a Muslim dynasty, carried cultural elements borrowed from Arabs, Persians and Ottomans, which later were accepted, adapted and further developed by Indians. 

The styles of shalwar most commonly worn in India — with narrow ankles or ankle cuffs — bear a striking similarity to the traditional style of women’s trousers known as sirwal in Arabic, which are worn in many regions of Gulf countries. 

Kameez, too, bears resemblance to the dishdasha, an ankle-length robe with long sleeves, worn by both men and women in the Arabian Peninsula. 

There is also the Indian scarf, or dupatta, which completes the trouser-and-tunic set and which in parts of the country is used by women also as a veil to cover their faces. 

“Some of the basic day-to-day dresses like shalwar, kameez and dupatta came with the Mughals,” said Debanjana Paul, a fashion designer based in New Delhi.  

“And Mughals have their cultural bases in the Middle East, Turkey and the Arab world.”

But before the Mughals, the Indian subcontinent’s exchanges with the Middle East were already established through trade along the Silk Roads, where besides the main commodity — spices — other goods, like fabric, traveled as well. 

One of the favorite textiles in India is muslin, a fabric so light that poets in the subcontinent have described it as “woven air.” 

Production of the delicate cloth was for centuries centered in the subcontinent, but the cloth did not originate there. As its name suggests, it is from the city of Mosul, in Iraq, where it was first manufactured in the Middle Ages. 

Paul, who used to work for an Indian brand in the UAE, told Arab News that also some floral and geometric ornamentation motifs, popular especially in northern India, originated in the Middle East.  

Centuries later, some of them have returned to their birthplace in a new form. One such form is the embroidery that is nowadays often seen on kaftans, the loose shirts that are the basis of Arabian fashion. 

“The products I used to design would have lots of surface ornamentation, and these garments used to go to the Middle East,” Paul said. 

“This is the influence of Indian fashion on the Middle East.” 

But modern Indian influence is evident also on another level. Many celebrity Arab designers, including Ellie Saab and Zuhair Murad, hire Bollywood stars to promote their creations. 

Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan have often been seen wearing their designs. 

“Lots of the Middle Eastern brands hire Bollywood celebrities as the face of the brand,” Paul said. 

“That is again an exchange.” 

The interaction is also reflected in the fact that countless fashion shows in the Middle East, especially the Gulf region, regularly feature Indian designers and attract big audiences. 

“Most Indian designers have stores in Dubai and they cater to the local market,” said Swati Ubroi, a designer from Jaipur who regularly sells her heavily decorated bridal and occasion wear to the UAE. 

She believes that had there been no mutual influence between India and the Middle East, their fashion scenes would be incomplete. 

“Long tunics that are worn in the Middle East find space in the Indian fashion industry. Indian embroidery finds space in the Middle East,” she said. “There are lots of common things.” 

For Swarna Gupta, who in Jaipur runs her boutique Paridhan and also sells designs in Dubai, the fashion exchange is smooth because Middle Eastern and Indian styles are compatible. 

“Inspiration comes effortlessly from the Middle East,” she said. 

“Both India and the Middle East are generally conservative societies where women want to look feminine while expressing their style appropriately.” 


US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  

US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  
Updated 05 February 2023

US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  

US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  

DUBAI: US actress, social media star and dancer Tessa Brooks showed off a sleek look by Saudi designer Eman Alajlan at the 2023 MusiCares Persons of the Year event in Los Angeles over the weekend.  

US actress and social media star Tessa Brooks showed off a sleek look by Saudi designer Eman Alajlan. (Getty Images)

The 23-year-old multi-hyphenate showed off an all-black ensemble by Alajlan at an event that honored retired American record executive Berry Gordy and legendary Motown singer Smokey Robinson at the Los Angeles Convention Center. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Check the Tag (@checkthetag)

The pair of creatives are the architects behind a generation of soul-pop hits and they stood side-by-side on Friday night to accept a double-billed MusiCares Persons of the Year honor. MusiCares is non-profit wing of the Recording Academy and holds the annual gala ahead of the Grammy Awards, which took place on Sunday night.  

Brooks opted to show off a Saudi design on a red carpet that welcomed the who’s who of the entertainment industry — performers who took to the the stage at the event included Brandi Carlile, Jimmie Allen, PJ Morton, Trombone Shorty, John Legend, Sheryl Crow, Mumford & Sons, Isley Brothers, Michael McDonald, The Temptations, Rita Wilson and The Four Tops, Molly Tuttle and more.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MusiCares (@musicares)

Musical icons Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie also made on-stage appearances.  

Brooks chose a sculptured look by Alajlan, featuring a form-fitting bodice and skirt topped with a wrap-around collar dusted with gemstones.  

The social media star showed off her outfit of choice to her 19 million Instagram followers by way of a set of Instagram Stories.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tessa Brooks (@tessabrooks)

The model and actress also recently posted about her visits to Saudi Arabia, where she attended the Red Sea International Film Festival in December before jetting back to the Kingdom to visit the historical site of AlUla in January.  

“Sunrise in AlUla,” she captioned a carousel of shots on Instagram in which she can be seen basking in the Saudi sun wearing a toweled robe.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tessa Brooks (@tessabrooks)

Alajlan, who has a store in Riyadh, established her label in 2007 and specializes in couture, bridal and pret-a-porter dresses. She has dressed a number of regional celebrities for international events, including the 2019 Venice Film Festival when Saudi actresses Mila Alzahrani and Dae Al-Hilali hit the red carpet in her creations. 


Tunisian managing director Nadia Dhouib pays tribute to Paco Rabanne

Tunisian managing director Nadia Dhouib pays tribute to Paco Rabanne
Updated 04 February 2023

Tunisian managing director Nadia Dhouib pays tribute to Paco Rabanne

Tunisian managing director Nadia Dhouib pays tribute to Paco Rabanne
  • The eponymous label he exited more than two decades ago hailed him as "among the most seminal fashion figures of the 20th century"
  • Tunisian managing director of Paco Rabanne, Nadia Dhouib, paid tribute to the ‘legendary’ fashion designer

PARIS: Tunisian managing director Nadia Dhouib this week paid tribute to the Spanish-born designer Paco Rabanne, who died at the age of 88 on Friday.

Dhouib, who was named managing director of Paco Rabanne in March last year, shared a black and white picture of the fashion designer, best known for his metallic ensembles and space-age designs of the 1960s, on her Instagram stories, and wrote: “Legend.”

The eponymous label he exited more than two decades ago hailed him as “among the most seminal fashion figures of the 20th century.”

Rabanne dressed some of the most prominent stars of the 1960s, including French singer Francoise Hardy, whose outfits from the designer included a minidress made from gold plates and a metal link jumpsuit, as well as Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, who were pictured in matching silver outfits.

Among his most famous looks were the fitted, skin-baring ensembles worn by Jane Fonda in Roger Vadim’s cult science fiction film “Barbarella.”

The death of Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo, Paco Rabanne’s birth name, was confirmed by a spokesperson for Spanish group Puig, which now controls the fashion house.

“A major personality in fashion, his was a daring, revolutionary and provocative vision, conveyed through a unique aesthetic,” said Marc Puig, chairman and CEO of Puig.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Paco Rabanne (@pacorabanne)

“Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women (to) clamor for dresses made of plastic and metal? Who but Paco Rabanne could imagine a fragrance called Calandre — the word means ‘automobile grill,’ you know — and turn it into an icon of modern femininity?" the group's statement said.

Born in a village in the Spanish Basque region in 1934, his mother was a head seamstress at Balenciaga. He died in Portsall in Brittany.

Rabanne grew up in France, where the family moved after Spanish troops shot dead his father, who had been a Republican commander during the civil war.

He studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He started his career sketching handbags for a supplier to prestigious fashion houses including Givenchy and Chanel, as well as shoes for Charles Jourdan.

He then branched into fashion, designing garments and jewelry with unconventional materials such as metal and plastic.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nadia Dhouib (@nadia_dhouib)

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His first collection, which he described as “unwearable dresses made of contemporary materials” were pieces made of strips of plastic linked with metal rings, worn by barefoot models at a presentation at the upscale Paris hotel George V.

The Paris cabaret Crazy Horse Saloon was his next venue, where models paraded his skimpy dresses and bathing suits while wearing hardhats.

While his innovation and futuristic designs won plaudits, his fascination with the supernatural prompted public derision at times. He was known for recounting past reincarnations, and in 1999, he predicted the space station Mir would crash into France, coinciding with a solar eclipse.

Surrealist Salvador Dali famously approved of his compatriot, calling him “Spain’s second genius.”

The designer teamed up with Spain’s Puig family in the late 1960s, launching perfumes that served as a springboard for the company’s international expansion.

“Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women (to) clamour for dresses made of plastic and metal,” said Jose Manuel Albesa, president of Puig’s beauty and fashion division.

The label has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, under the creative direction of Julien Dossena, who has updated the house’s signature chainmail designs.

“We are grateful to Monsieur Rabanne for establishing our avant-garde heritage and defining a future of limitless possibilities,” the fashion house said in a statement.

The designer’s work with metallic plastic gave a “sharp edge” to women’s clothes, an effect that was “so much more than a New Look,” fashion historian Suzy Menkes said on Instagram Friday.

“It was rather a revolutionary attitude for women who wanted both to protect and assert themselves.”

(With Reuters and AP)


Lebanese influencer Karen Wazen spends the day with Angelina Jolie in Guerlain initiative

Lebanese influencer Karen Wazen spends the day with Angelina Jolie in Guerlain initiative
Updated 03 February 2023

Lebanese influencer Karen Wazen spends the day with Angelina Jolie in Guerlain initiative

Lebanese influencer Karen Wazen spends the day with Angelina Jolie in Guerlain initiative

DUBAI: Lebanese influencer and entrepreneur Karen Wazen took to Instagram to share a photograph of herself with Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie at a cocktail event hosted by French label Guerlain in Paris. 

“This was very special,” the eyewear designer said in a caption to the post. 

“As part of my ongoing collaboration with the maison I was honored to attend an intimate cocktail (event) at Guerlain’s iconic boutique — 68 Avenue des Champs-Elysees — with Angelina Jolie, as well as Guerlain’s experts from its bee conservation program,” Wazen told her 7.9 million followers. 

“Together we discussed the brand’s bee conservation program, including the Bee School, founded by Guerlain and led by its employees, a volunteer program developed to educate young children across the world on the bee’s importance to ecosystems and biodiversity for which I am excited to host here in the Middle East in 2023,” she said. 

In March 2022, the By Karen Wazen founder was announced as the first regional ambassador for the beauty house.

Wazen is representing Guerlain’s full skincare line as a long-time advocate for the brand. The Dubai-based influencer has said she shares the same principles and passions as the house, including sustainability, and both aim to empower women across the region.

“I am very proud to become the Middle Eastern ambassador for Guerlain,” Wazen said at the time. “As a house whose DNA and heritage are in complete, authentic alignment with my own ethos, I look forward to this beautiful and exciting new chapter together.”


Georgina Rodriguez supports Los Angeles label during mall trip in Saudi Arabia   

Georgina Rodriguez supports Los Angeles label during mall trip in Saudi Arabia   
Updated 01 February 2023

Georgina Rodriguez supports Los Angeles label during mall trip in Saudi Arabia   

Georgina Rodriguez supports Los Angeles label during mall trip in Saudi Arabia   

DUBAI: Argentinian model Georgina Rodriguez this week snapped pictures of herself on a shopping spree in Riyadh — and she took a moment to show some love for her favorite activewear brand, Alo Yoga.  

She visited a mall in Riyadh and opted for a sporty look, wearing a purple top and a miniskirt from the Los Angeles-based label. She paired them with a pair of leggings underneath, a pink cross-body bag, white sneakers and a black-and-white coat.  

She also held a large Alo duffle bag in grey as she posed for a picture in front of the store, before tagging the brand in her Instagram post.  

The Netflix star has been spotted multiple times sporting activewear from the brand.  

When she first arrived in Saudi Arabia with her partner Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and their family in January, she wore a black set from the label and a white beanie.  

On another occasion, she stepped out wearing a white tracksuit with a black cap. In another picture she shared on Instagram on Jan. 14, she wore a faux fur bucket hat to accessorize her black yoga set.  

Last weekend, Rodriguez celebrated her 29th birthday with her family in Riyadh.  

The family was photographed at Armenian restaurant Lavash on The Boulevard. 

She was welcomed with a three-tier birthday cake that boasted flower designs and gold text that read “Happy Birthday” in Portuguese. 

Rodriguez, who now calls Saudi Arabia home after her partner signed a record-breaking deal with Al-Nassr, shared her pictures on Instagram, and wrote: “29 years completed surrounded by people I love with all my heart. Immensely grateful to God for everything. Thank you all for having spent a little of your time congratulating me and sending me so much love.” 

On Jan. 24, the model featured at the Joy Awards in Riyadh, showing off a midnight blue form-fitting velvet gown by Dubai-based Tunisian designer Ali Karoui. Her look featured a matching veil, gold pumps from Italian luxury shoemakers Le Silla, and jewelry from Kooheji, of Bahrain. 


Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab
Updated 30 January 2023

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab

DUBAI: Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas has a well-documented penchant for Arab designers. The Indian star, who crossed over into Hollywood, has been pictured donning looks from regional labels on plenty of occasions, including designs by Zuhair Murad and Nicolas Jebran, to name a few. 

Now, Chopra has taken to Instagram Stories to share a photograph of her latest look — a glittering get up by Lebanese designer Elie Saab.  

“When your fit deserves a closet selfie,” she captioned the casual snap.  

The jewel-toned look consisted of a floral midi dress paired with a matching bomber jacket.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Priyanka (@priyankachopra)

The former Miss World, who is married to US singer Nick Jonas, has sported Arab designs in the past and is also known for championing up-and-coming brands.  In 2021, Chopra made an appearance in Dubai and opted for a striking, saffron-colored design from sustainable Moroccan couture house Benchellal. 

The orange air mesh blazer dress featured a draped shawl cape and pockets and was plucked from the label’s ninth collection. She wore it with slim-fitting black trousers and pumps. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Priyanka (@priyankachopra)

Chopra also supported rising US Lebanese label Monot in 2021 by showing off a white, custom draped dress by the label during a product shoot for her haircare range.  

The actress and entrepreneur walked the red carpet at the second iteration of Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival in December 2022 in a lavish gold gown by Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran, complete with a matching overcoat.  

Arab designers have increasingly become the “go-to” for Indian celebrities at major events. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ami Patel (@stylebyami)

Ami Patel, one of India’s leading celebrity stylists, previously explained Bollywood’s love affair with Middle Eastern design talent to Arab News, saying: “I think Middle Eastern designers understand the Indian body type and silhouette very well. They know exactly what Indian celebrities want and cater to them.” 

Dubai-based Syrian designer Rami Al-Ali, who just unveiled his latest collection on the sidelines of Paris Haute Couture Week, agreed, telling Arab News in a previous interview: “Bollywood stars are also celebrities in the Middle East world.” 

“Since the Middle East is actually aligned with the industry, they are definitely keener on dressing Indian stars and even willing to customise and size outfits for our actors,” added Rai, in a bid to explain why stars such as Chopra, who started off in Bollywood, have an affinity for Arab designs.