With National Day approaching, we set two Dubai-based designers the challenge of creating a classic-yet-contemporary outfit for a national muse of their choice.
National Day glamour
Women’s traditional dress has gone through many evolutions in the UAE over the past four decades. Oversized sheilas once doubled up as half abayas, which eventually became the black full-length ones we see today. From embroidery techniques to fabrics and masks – all have undergone cycles.
Yet from headgear to footwear, Emirati women have managed to hold on to their Arab-Islamic identity.
With the country’s 42nd National Day approaching, we set two Dubai-based designers the challenge of creating a classic-yet-contemporary outfit for a national muse of their choice.
The designer Rabia Z is best known for her modern-yet-modest abayas, dusters and ready-to-wear range.
Referred to as one of the 100 Most Powerful Arab Personalities by Arabian Business in 2009, Rabia’s apparel continues to extend its footprint into Europe, the US and Asia. She counts many royals among her VIP clients.
“This National Day, I was inspired to dress the perfect muse, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein. I’ve designed one of my signature jacket-abayas for her; it’s been reconstructed and redesigned in a richly textured lace.”
“Very feminine. Inspired by Her Highness’s Olympic achievements, I constructed a fitted body similar to that of an equestrian jacket. The top half then naturally flows into a draped, dress-abaya. To me, this design fits perfectly with the femininity and strength of Princess Haya. As for the colours I chose, it’s one of my favourites from spring/summer 2014: vivid orchid. I think it would suit her well.”
“I have always admired Princess Haya for her compassion and humanitarian work. I’ve always been struck, too, by her graceful beauty, both inner and outer. I have always wanted to dress Her Highness and I thought a National Day sketch of the outfit I had in mind for her was a good start.”
On National Day
“In our house, National Day is all about family fun and the day starts early for my husband and I. We’ll take our three children out on a little flag-waving car trip to their grandparents’ home, where we’ll enjoy a barbecue. As the sun sets, we’ll gather around a bonfire in the backyard. We’ll listen to stories my father will tell of his childhood, before the UAE was formed, and end the day by watching some fireworks.”
What she’ll be wearing
“As the winter nights are drawing in and we’ll be at my parents’ home, I’ll probably choose to wear a Rabia Z cape-top with jeans and boots.”
• Check out Rabia Z’s collections at www.rabiaz.com
Effa Al Dabbagh
After graduating with a fashion degree from the UK, Al Dabbagh cut her teeth in the industry by working as a brand manager and buyer. As she partnered with some of the world’s finest maisons – from Christian Lacroix and Emmanuel Ungaro to Valentino – she was inspired to create her own label, Effa. Known for her romantic, feminine collections, Al Dabbagh’s Abaya Couture line was created with the “independent, active and modern woman” in mind. Her ready-to-wear line is best summed up as effortless elegance.
“The personality I chose to do the National Day design for is Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi.
“I chose Sheikha Bodour for her work in promoting literacy and culture in the Emirates. This makes her an important personality and role model for women of the UAE. She is also known for her style and elegance so it would be an honour to dress her.”
“The inspiration behind the abaya design was the colours of the National Day flag. I wanted to include a vintage element by adding a corsage on the bodice using different fabrics such as lace, velvet and vintage buttons.
“I chose to make the abaya loose-cut with draped satin panels in the colours of the UAE Flag, coming down the length of the garment for a lengthening, slimming effect.”
On National Day
“I always enjoy celebrating this occasion by watching the parades with the family and I always make a special effort to design pieces in my collection especially for the occasion. This year, in addition to the National Day abaya, I focused on a selection of accessories and ready-to-wear pieces, which are available in my boutique.”
What she’ll be wearing
“This year I will be wearing my Effa vintage corsage to mark my pride in the UAE. Under my abaya I’ll be wearing one of my label’s stretch satin T-shirts with pearl National Day-themed embellishments.”
• Check out Effa’s National Day collection at Effa Boutique, Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1, Dubai. For more information, call 04 346 3998 or visit www.effa.ae