x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Sneak peek at Bambah boutique's new collection

The Jumeirah shop's Vintage Reconstructed line focuses on casual, adaptable, retro items.

Maha Abdul Rasheed opened her Jumeirah Beach Road boutique 18 months ago. Antonie Robertson / The National
Maha Abdul Rasheed opened her Jumeirah Beach Road boutique 18 months ago. Antonie Robertson / The National

It's not just the welcoming slice of cake upon arrival at Bambah boutique in Dubai that makes for a refreshingly different experience from the conventional trek to the mall.

It's one of the few hidden treasures in the Emirates offering vintage ready-to-wear and couture at highly affordable prices. The fashionable founder is the Egyptian-born Maha Abdul Rasheed, who, after graduating from the American University of Sharjah, embarked upon a personal styling course at the London College of Fashion before turning her passion into a profession. We talk to the designer about how her 18-month-old business is flourishing and take a sneak peek at the latest Vintage Reconstructed collection.

Vintage fashion is a relatively new concept to the UAE. What sparked your love for bygone styles and prompted you to open a boutique?

There seemed to be a strong need for speciality boutiques offering personalised attention, one-off pieces and a fun shopping environment. My clients are constantly on the hunt for unique pieces that complement their style and personality, with the added guarantee of no one else wearing the same items - that's where Bambah comes in.

Contemporary styles are no longer the "ultimate source" of fashion satisfaction. And people are looking for garments that uniquely reflect who they are. Take the red carpet: these days it's a showcase of vintage glamour, which just proves that as fashion turns to past generations for inspiration, the timeless, classic looks inspired by Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Marilyn Monroe have become modern-day ideals again.

Tell me more about Vintage Reconstructed.

I've always loved clothes and I barely remember a time where I wore something without altering it. I started by taking apart my vintage finds and adding embellishments - sleeves, waists and more - to completely transform the pieces. Sometimes, for femininity, I would add frills or ruffles. Other times I would take things to the extreme and go all out with studs.

Who is the line aimed at?

Vintage Reconstructed is for the casual, effortless, easy-to-talk-to woman. She loves the grungy look, has messy hair, embodies a carefree attitude and always wants to take risks while having fun.

The collection caters to the local fascination with vintage in addition to people's appetite for exclusive styles, limited editions and one-off items. It's focused on a casual, funky-retro look that's very comfortable and flexible. The pieces can be dressed up with black leather trousers and killer heels or dressed down with a pair of shorts and boho sandals, for example. It's all about experimenting with colours and fabrics, letting your imagination speak for you.

Where do you originally source the vintage pieces?

From all over the world, mainly cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, London, New York and Tokyo. I've been collecting vintage fashion for almost 10 years now - before I even decided to start a boutique in Dubai. Every piece has a story.

Criteria-wise, the pieces must be in pristine condition. I also personally try on everything before I buy, and I never restrict myself to any particular style. Everything and anything is welcome.

What eras do the garments commonly date from?

Usually between the 1930s and 1980s.

Can people bring pieces they want "reconstructed" to you?

Of course! I would love to give ideas and see how we can refashion them to suit their needs and personality.

A simple reinvention could be as easy as just changing the buttons on a shirt or cutting off the sleeves, turning it into a vest in line with today's trends.

What fabric pairings work particularly well for adapting pieces?

I mainly focus on denim and plaid because they are practical and timeless essentials for any fashionista's wardrobe. They are so versatile, easy to dress up or down and always have that element of an "attitude". In this collection, I've also introduced military pieces since they're a big hit this season on the runway and in the high street.

Find Vintage Reconstructed pieces at Bambah boutique, 142 Jumeirah Beach Road, opposite Dubai Zoo. Average prices range from Dh250 to Dh850. For more information, call 04 349 5585 or visit www.facebook.com/bambahboutique


Quick fire

Priciest vintage piece in Bambah boutique: a red Dior silk-blend dress from the 1970s with black oversized buttons, for Dh3,700.

Most treasured item of clothing: a 1950s black velvet Nina Ricci gown with a pink and blue silk bow on the bust.

Last fashion purchase: an exclusive runway-edition pair of gold slingbacks with a cage-heel, by Yves Saint Laurent.

Three essential capsule wardrobe items: comfortable jeans, a white T-shirt and killer heels.

Favourite designers: Yves Saint Laurent and Manolo Blahnik.

Style icon: the 1950s model Jean Patchett.

Would most like to dress: Sophia Loren.


The National's fashion correspondent Gemma Champ is writing every day from Paris Fashion Week. See our fashion blog All Dressed Up to read her posts, as well as her letters from London and New York.