x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Maybe you can't buy love, but at least you can rent the dress

Money woes are no match for true love. But when times are tight, prospective brides and grooms sometimes need to get a little creative.

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ABU DHABI // Money woes are no match for true love. But when times are tight, prospective brides and grooms sometimes need to get a little creative. That is where Dubai's La Mariée Fashion, one of the 220 exhibitors at the Bride Show - Abu Dhabi, comes in. Many of the dresses on display at the show. made of silk and adorned with pearls and crystals, cost more than Dh50,000 (US$13,600). They are the stuff of dreams, but like any fantasy they are hard to make a reality.

La Mariée Fashion specialises in one-night rentals. Dresses that cost up to Dh150,000 are available for a fraction of the cost, from about Dh15,000 to Dh25,000. "Economic problems don't stop weddings," said Nada al Ali, the owner of the store. "But the cost of dresses is too high. They prefer to rent it for one night, because afterwards what will they do with it?" The company started in Abu Dhabi in 2007; during wedding season she rents up to 10 dresses a day.

Most of the dresses are commissioned from a variety of designers. More recently, former brides have been showing up at the shop to rent out their used dresses. "I examine it to see its quality and what it is worth and then we split the price," said Ms al Ali. Old House Heritage, a Dubai institution, also rents out their designs, although they don't advertise the service. Dresses designed by Khalidja al Marzoqi, known as Umm Dhabiya, whose creations sell for more than Dh35,000, are available for about Dh10,000 per night.

"For the expensive dresses, for those over Dh30,000, people like to take it but not buy it," she said. "They like the crystals, the fact that it is more expensive." On Friday, two abayas encrusted with diamonds, silver coins, pearls and turquoise and valued at more than Dh100,000 each will be unveiled at the show. Two sisters, Afra and Fatima al Ghafli, started Oshia, the design house behind them.

"Our mother used to make abayas," said Afra, the designer of the two garments. "She encouraged us to be creative. I specialise in abayas and my sister designs clothes for children. We worked together and that is how our company grew into what it is today." Some 15,000 visitors are expected to attend the show, which continues at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre until Saturday. amcmeans@thenational.ae