Surely the ultimate client for any fashion designer must be the Material Girl herself, Madonna. For Sara Al Madani, the Emirati
designer and co-founder of Rouge Couture in Dubai, that dream may soon be realised. Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane caught up with the talented 26-year-old who, much like the Queen of Pop, takes anything but a conventional approach to her work
Tell me about your latest celebrity muse-inspired line?
We like to keep our clients entertained and one thing we always do is a Celebrity Fever collection. Previous ones have been inspired by Lady Gaga and Alexander McQueen, and we chose Madonna this time because she’s an icon and she’ll be in the UAE. The collection consists of 15 pieces; abayas and two beautiful but crazy party dresses. They are conservative, but with a Madonna style, meaning they don’t show any skin yet are very avant-garde. One of the dresses is red and sequinned all over, the other is silver. The collection is priced between Dh1,000 and Dh3,500.
What about the abaya you have designed specifically for Madonna?
When celebrities come to town or artists have a concert, they have access to something called a celebrity room, where during their downtime they can see all the gifts people and sponsors have sent them. So, although it is not promised that Madonna will wear our abaya publicly, it has been promised to reach her.
The design looks like a cape, because when Madonna comes on stage, before she reveals her outfit, she always has a cape on. It also has huge shoulders inspired by the 1950s and 1960s and a lot of leather, metal and spikes to the shoulders. It’s made from the signature material we produce ourselves called Rouge Silk.
How was it made to measure?
I know exactly what size Madonna is because, as with all celebrities, every detail from their average hair and even nail length is available via their agent, company or on their website. And yes, Madonna is tiny.
Will you be going to the concert and, if so, what will you wear?
Yes, and in the store we sell something called a travelling abaya – a shorter abaya. Of course, I spiked it up for myself to fit the situation!
Have clients responded well to the non-traditional, edgy collection?
Oh, yes. We actually thought clients would need some time to get used to it and wouldn’t start ordering it right away because it’s very strong – of course, while still being conservative. But in fact, before putting out the whole collection, when we had just two pieces out in the boutique, the clients saw it and started ordering it.
So, I’m glad that people here are adapting to fashion very quickly and accepting it. The women are very educated when it comes to fashion, unlike a couple of years ago when we used to educate the clients, now they educate us – which is a great challenge for us as designers.
Do you ever receive criticism for the designs you wear and, if so, how do you deal with that?
Sometimes yes, when I go out. Or in the store sometimes when new clients walk in I get looks from them. So, when I have the opportunity, I try to explain that what I’m wearing is still conservative and still black. Some accept it and some don’t, but I never get angry or react in a negative way because I’m a businesswoman who should always be setting an example. I wear my designs proudly and everyone has their own style.
• For more details go to www.rouge-couture.com