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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Regional designers create Star Wars: Episode VII outfits

We sought out two Star Wars fans and set them a galactic mission. Designers Hatem Alakeel and Sara Al Madani took up the challenge of creating show-stopping outfits for the film’s premiere.

The Emirati fashion designer Sara Al Madani with her Star Wars outfit, which she says incorporates futuristic and Victorian elements. Sarah Dea / The National
The Emirati fashion designer Sara Al Madani with her Star Wars outfit, which she says incorporates futuristic and Victorian elements. Sarah Dea / The National

With scenes for Star Wars: Episode VII recently shot in the capital, we sought out two fans and set them on an intergalactic mission. The regionally renowned designers Hatem Alakeel and Sara Al Madani were asked to create an outfit for a character for the film’s much-anticipated premiere. They talked to us about the inspiration and wearability of their creations.

Sara Al Madani

Creative director, Rouge Couture

Character study

I think I must have been about 12 when I first saw Star Wars. I’ve seen the older versions, but not all of the new movies yet. The memory that prevails is that of Darth Vader, the fighting scenes and, of course, the unique clothes. I really like the character Natalie Portman played, Queen Padmé Amidala, because she was feminine yet not, strong yet soft – she was such a mixture from her looks to her personality. I like women to be strong and she embodied that.

The process

I did a lot of research before making the piece and I realised that Star Wars costumes have two types of styles: one is futuristic and one is quite Victorian. So I basically mixed the two themes. It’s not designed for one specific character, but it’s for a powerful woman of high ranking. I also kept in mind that, if worn by a character in the film, the outfit will need to be fluid, allowing her to move around in combat, if need be.

The look

It has a lot of body-shaping leather and 3-D hips, accentuating the silhouette. There’s also quite a bit of metal and an element around the collar. On the shoulders, I’ve placed some lace to keep it feminine. The colour palette is muted, with the grey metal and handwork of silver and gold. Brown and black dominate, because I am an abaya designer after all.

The future

My staff and I were initially thinking we couldn’t really display the outfit in-store. But thinking about it – why not? It’s a great way to showcase how creative we can be. I’m thinking also about using it in one of my fashion shows as a key piece. It was a challenge and took a long time to put together and I’m amazed at how well it turned out.

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drawings and actual photos of a model (Toby?) in Star Wars inspired outfits by designer Hatem Alakeel. Story by Rebecca McLaughlin Duane, July 2014, A&L cover. CREDIT: Courtesy David Goff
drawings and actual photos of a model (Toby?) in Star Wars inspired outfits by designer Hatem Alakeel. Story by Rebecca McLaughlin Duane, July 2014, A&L cover. CREDIT: Courtesy David Goff

Hatem Alakeel

Creative director, Toby

Truly fan-tastic

My first memory of Star Wars was back in the late 1970s. The fashion was so memorable, not least Darth Vader, with his cape and Princess Leia. George Lucas truly created his own universe and drew others into his dream. The costumes for the male characters are somewhat unisex, yet without their masculinity ever being compromised, which is very cool. Similarly, there’s something of a samurai feel to them – the designs are elegant but very powerful. That’s what Toby symbolises, too, as we take tradition, culture and innovation and make something look androgynous and yet very masculine.

The process

I thought of all the elements I enjoyed about Star Wars and how I wanted to depict them. In essence, my designs are for a “nicer” version of Darth Vader [laughs]. He’s so unapproachable, cold and severe that I strove to show another side. Of course, the main inspiration was to adapt the kandura or thobe to Star Wars, taking it to the next intergalactic level.

The look

My designs – one character costume and one outfit for the premiere – have a tuxedo-style collar, giving them a more polished and global-fusion concept. For the red carpet look I have mixed elements of the traditional thobe, black tie and samurai. Both have a majestic cape giving them a regal feel. I used Thai silk as it has a bit of a sheen, feels luxurious and stands well. It’s masculine with a rugged texture and doesn’t fall too readily.

The future

The red carpet look is a fashion piece which will probably end up in one of my boutiques. It will be in my archives and on one of my mannequins for a certain period. At the same time, what my clients buy can be very different to what I have in my fashion shows. We have a very masculine, serious aesthetic to Toby, so we have to be cautious as to what items we position. This is more of a costume/red carpet look. And while it has been a pleasure to make, I must be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll be walking around wearing capes anytime soon.

rduane@thenational.ae

Updated: July 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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