MARRIAM MOSSALLI, [email protected]
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2010-04-07 17:13

Walking into his atelier in Dubai, I immediately knew I was in the presence of real fashion mastery. I mean this in the full sense of the word. A master craftsman in his trade, his mystifying collections embody a skill set that is rare and highly welcomed.
True, he didn’t show at Dubai Fashion Week, but his creations garnered a break in my tight schedule at DFW shows for a personal visit to the man who is a veteran of Rome’s prestigious catwalks. We’re talking the glamour of Beirut mixed with the feminine silhouettes of Paris. We’re talking a universal fashion icon in the making.
An internationally renowned name to those in the industry, Al Ali is a highly exclusive couture designer whose creations have graced both models on the AltaRoma Alta Moda catwalks and celebrities on the red carpet.
Although he hails from Syria, Al Ali established his couture house in 2001 in Dubai. Then, in almost the blink of an eye, Al Ali was being praised by industry insiders for his innovative take on classic silhouettes and his sultry celebration of the female body. By 2007, Al Ali was selected to open for Abu Dhabi’s first Fashion Week alongside fashion idol Valentino. 
Soon afterwards, his long-standing collaboration with Swarovski was epitomized with their inclusion of a specially commissioned wedding gown for the brand’s coveted publication, UNBRIDALED: The Marriage of Tradition and Avant Garde. An honor typically reserved for fashion legends, such as John Galliano, Vivian Westwood, and Giorgio Armani, Al Ali’s creation stood its own ground through his uncompromising attention to detail.
“The dress was inspired from my culture,” revealed Al Ali. “The embellishments reflect Syrian mosaic boxes with their mother-of-pearl work and geometric configuration.”
He also gave the classic wedding veil an Arab interpretation that is more reflective of the customary hijab. Yet his design is a visible fusion of east and west.
“I juxtaposed the predominately Arab bodice with French lace and implemented grey-toned crystals on off-white material to give it a more European, vintage look,” he said.
On Jan. 31, Al Ali debuted his Spring/Summer 2010 collection, which consisted of 30 evening gowns and one elaborate grand finale wedding dress.
“The character ‘Carmen’ from a famous Spanish opera was my muse for the Spring/Summer collection,” explains Al Ali. “The character is liberal, adventurous, yet is extremely sensual and sexy-she is a contradiction of characteristics.”
The line has the eponymous name “Carmen” and is as versatile as the fiery gypsy from Bizet’s famous opéra comique. The line fuses the sharp lines of Spanish matadors and their masculine boleros with that of dramatic silhouettes that hug the curves and are distinctive of Flamenco dancer costumes.
The fabrics, which range from organza and chiffon to silk and taffeta, also strictly adhere to Carmen’s wild yet charismatic intrigue.
“The prints are strong, with sophisticated voluminous fabrics, transforming them into light and flowing creations,” said Al Ali.
And much like Carmen, the dresses are outspoken and dramatic through the handcrafted embellishments, such as crystallized tussles, pleats, and fringes. They are further mystified with their alluring layering and present a contemporary rendition of classical motifs.
“The embroidery and embellishments are mainly inspired from the matador’s and Spanish shawls with their vibrant and meticulous threadwork,” states Al Ali. “Yet through a specifically hand-made crochet, I was able to execute a new technique.”
Implementing a vibrant color palette that is inherently Spanish, Al Ali manipulated the bold colors of yellow, red, and fuchsia into fresher, lighter interpretations that are more suitable for spring. Adorned with gold shimmer and champagne hues, the colors reflect the enviable olive skin tone characteristic of Mediterranean women.
“She is stunning with a prevailing charm, popular and lavishly beautiful,” boldly states Al Ali, “she’s nature unsurpassed.”
Al Ali’s prêt-a-porter collection is available in Harvey Nichols in Riyadh, S*auce in Dubai, and Villa Moda branches across the GCC. His couture line is exclusively available in Dubai, where the designer insists on being 110% involved.
“Couture has to be under my roof, under my control,” states Al Ali. “I like to meet with my client multiple times to make ensure we create something she will love.”
Well, I can already tell you now: We love it.
Ranked number 17 in The Middle East Magazine’s survey of “The 50 Most Influential Arabs,” Al Ali is a tour de force of fashion ingenuity to be reckoned with, and one this fashion editor will be keeping a very close eye on.

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