"What about this one?" My husband asked me adorably the other day. Trying to be helpful he was holding up an Abayaat Al Shamkha design that I bought for National Day... four years ago!... alongside a pair of red leather pumps that matched the piping and crystals of the abaya's sleeves.
He's an Omani man from a traditional village. Really, I mean, it was more help than I expected that he managed to choose my only pair of shoes left with a discernable heel intact, and a boutique-brand-abaya over a souq-tailor-made one, and colour-courdinate. I am sure I HAD worn that exact abaya with that exact shoe at least once... four years ago.
"I can't wear that! What if I run into Hind or Reem from DAS at the exhibition at the Opera Galleria? They'll KNOOOOOOWWWWWWW that's like the oldest thing I own."
Immediately I knew alot of borrowing was in order. Omani girlfriends all had some gorgeous handbags. My SIL and 1 friend have the exact same shoe size as me. And maybe someone who remembers when I used to work in fashion would lend me some real jewels to wear. Though that was stretching it.
I'd already had one fairy god-mother moment this week, when a beautiful enchanted fairy from a PR firm in Dubai graciously bestowed upon me my fashion week pass, so asking for someone to wave a magic wand give me the collection of designer handbags and shoes I left back in Canada was a bit of a stretch. A pair of Emerald drop earrings, my dear readers, if you are willing to lend, are always welcome;).
So I sat there before a six door wardrobe with nothing worthy inside it, on the trunk at the foot of my bed (also stuffed full of clothes) realizing that my Shatti friends were right. I'd gone village. I had a lot of lendlis, and jalabiyias, but no abayas of note.
Sure, I had plenty of designer Omani traditional dress and evening gowns [to wear to woman-only weddings that no non-deyouth (Arabic word for 'has no balls' but literally means 'man who is not jealous') Omani husband would be ok with their wife wearing in public] but had nothing that isn't no-comment work-wear, since I've avoided going to anything public but stylish in the last year. Work doesn't count.
I don't know, I've just been recluse beyond going back to work after my baby. I also haven't invested alot in my wardrobe since I did that barefoot and pregnent in the kitchen thing. Just nice things to wear to be cute at home you know;). It is bizarre to those who know me back 10 years or more. I was the girl who used to own a Birken [i.e a very expensive handbag that my husband didn't believe me cost more than a car until I went to sell it], but I'd traded that for a family vacation and a princess bedroom crammed with toys for my little Oman princess instead [having sworn to myself I will buy my baby daughter her own Hermes when she turns sixteen like my grandmother did for me]. I didn't care about Birkens when I was two. I wanted My-Little-Ponies, a race horse, a pet poodle and a pirate's parrot.
Finally, after alot of digging, I found it. A designer abaya that cost way too much money but WAS made of a beautiful fabric and had a unique cut. Despite this, I took an insane risk, and slashed at it with scissors.
I had bought it to meet some Prince my work wanted me to impress at my old job, and found it a bit much to move around in due to the copious ammounts of fabric in the sleeves. Consequently, it had been neglected to the corner of the wardrobe, on an ugly wire hanger. [Only the stuff I regularily wear deserves wooden hangers].
[OPNO FASHION TIP: P.S. Princes cannot tell a designer abaya that cost 200 OMR from a 60 rial tailor-made copy. It is the Princesses and Sheikhas that you have to worry about;)].
I couldn't have worn it as it was, but with a little bit of couture workmanship (i.e a home DIY job) it now looks pretty fabulous and flutters like a butterfly. It has been changed as much to me, as the corsetry undone by Coco Chanel.
If you wonder why I don't become an abaya designer myself, know this, know that I have NOOOOO ambition or follow-through whatsoever. I prefer to edit.
And that on a part-time basis.
Now I just need to find four other outfits for the rest of the fashion week days:(. Now I guess I should get on to writing ABOUT fashion week, which is the original intent of this post, not to bore anyone with my own closet dilemna.
So here goes:
Now, before you become one of those people who judge me to be an airhead focussed on superfluous dressings, who say that designer abayas are overpriced or that fashion is superficial, know this: fashion is the first form of art that predicts social change, and never has that been more obvious than through the revolution the GCC woman's uniform of the black abaya.
If you want to know where the Arab woman is going, look to what she is wearing, if past social indicators of social reform as studied through more respected feilds than fashion design such as anthropolgoy and history reflect.
And what is she wearing today?
If she is somebody in United Arab Emirates or into the MiddleEastern fashion-abaya business, she is wearing DAS Collection.
I have always loved this international-but-Emirates-based abaya brand that will be showcasing its latest collection on the Riyam Park runaway in just a
I am finding DAS to be the most modest-but-modern of the abaya designers out there these days, which is saying something as a Muslim woman. Alot of designers have taken fashion too far, and yes, they have made us beautiful culturally-respectful clothes to wear, but the abaya runs a thin line between becoming just another black evening dress, or keeping its original purpose, which is to maintain an air of modesty and mystery. I think DAS has been thinking out of the box but staying within the lines that drive the modern GCC woman to desire to don the abaya.
Another international collection of interest to be paraded down the Muscat Fashion Week runway is Mauzan . I know recently aforementioned abaya-expert Latifa Al Shamsi was snapped http://latifalshamsi.com/2012/12/07/ wearing a look supposedly inspired by Sultan Qaboos, says Mauzan's creative team. Which should be interesting to see, what other Omani influences are in store for the show. That's my main interest in the last day of runway shows.
Endemage | Facebook is another Omani collection of interest. I love their abayas. One of my SIL's has a big collection and they are always very unique and trendy. They also have very intricately cut caftanas/jalabiyias.
Kanzi [their site: www.kanziboutique.com] is another UAE brand, showing on the 2nd day of fashion week. I don't think I can attend as it is the birthday of one of the BFF's as well, but I usually enjoy their caftans/jalabiyias, and I know they have some abayas for the catwalk.
OMANI TRADITIONAL DRESS DESIGNERS
Everyone [who reads this blog at least] knows that I have an interest in Omani traditional regional dress forms. I think Omani traditional dress is unique in the GCC, and Nawal Al Hooti [her website: http://www.nawalalhooti.com/index.html] is usually my personal favourite for weddings [my own wedding dress was by Nawal]. For my own wedding I decided to go traditional Omani and there was no whisper of a white western wedding gown to be found.
I love the colours but traditional structure of Nawal's creations. I also love that she has tried to keep the form but make it more comfortable. Omani dress is often very heavy to wear, and she's lightened it up. Believe me, when sitting in the dress and headdress for over 8 hours, that counts for something. I really hope this year I'll get a chance to talk to Nawal, and I hope to see the actual regional dress on the runway this year, not just Western-style clothing with Omani influences like last fashion week. I am alot about the traditional dress.
I've gone village remember;).
And Muscat Fashion week regular Dibaj OMAN will likely have some fabulously draped velvet creations for us to wonder at.
I'm always a fool for Moroccan caftans so I'll be runway side for :: Zhor :: Defiles.
Tatiana Aceeva usually shows Jordanian/Lebanese style [modern not trad.] evening wear so I'll take that in also. What woman in the GCC ISN'T in CONSTANT need of something to wear to a wedding ballroom afterall?