When it comes to accessorising an abaya, delicate body chains probably don't spring immediately to mind. But the Dubai-based designer Mona Abdul Karim has incorporated some custom-made bejewelled pieces in her forthcoming collection.
"I've teamed up with a Canadian jeweller based here in the UAE. She produces the body chains and I design the abayas," says Abdul Karim, the owner of the Gulf Princess label. "We tried out the look to see if it would work and found it gave a very edgy feel to the garment. It was something entirely new and fresh for the market."
The eye-catching range of just over a dozen pieces has been created from swathes of Saudi crepe, stretch-sequin, velvet and leather, says Abdul Karim. "I ensured the abayas looked flowy - and even though body chains normally fit tightly to the body, highlighting the shape, these ones don't. The chains are lightweight and the colours are very dark for the most part, so that they are subtle."
Megan Smith is the creative talent behind the chains. She moved to Dubai seven years ago and began producing them just 12 months ago. "I had previously been making smaller ones for beachwear, lingerie and to be worn over clothes and now these ones adapted for the abaya," she says. "I use a lot of amber, black and silver Swarovski crystals in the designs and one element is actually in the shape of [the two linked Cs of] a Chanel logo."
As she makes the final tweaks to the line ahead of its debut, Abdul Karim is quietly confident women in the UAE will take to the designs. "The market here is very open to the latest trends and ladies are constantly looking for something new," she says. "Our collection is basically a response to the demand out there and because it's highly original, I'm sure people will be very keen to try it."
Should chains prove to be a short-lived fad, the investment of Dh2,500-4,500 for one won't have been in vain, says Abdul Karim. "These outfits are part of an exclusive line," she says, "and although the abaya and chains aren't sold separately and come as part of a complete outfit, they are detachable and could easily be mixed and matched."
The collection will be on sale at the Gulf Princess Boutique (Al Raha Building, Al Barsha, Dubai) from today. Call 04 399 0031 for more information