With my camera in hand I could hardly refuse, especially as he so graciously offered to photograph me once I’d been dressed. As he expertly draped the headscarf over my hair, winding and pining, I was acutely aware of the weight of the embroidery. Each stitch carefully supported into its backing. The body of the Abaya snap fastened over my bright vintage skirt, tumbling in a waterfall of black silk and red roses to sweep the floor.
Our enthusiasm was contagious and he reached into the rack to find another treasure for me. The sleeves of glittering golden Swarovski crystals, utterly regal and weighty, gave me the distinct sensation of “Royal Treatment”. Each genuine Swarovski is applied carefully by hand, the final garment costing more than two new family cars in Australia!
The sheer glamour of the Abayas simply took my breath away. I had seen some beautifully detailed pieces on ladies on the street, delicate hems and tiny Swarovski highlights, but nothing like these.
As Sami and I talked, I began to realise I could spend a whole year in Dubai learning about the fashions, design and craftsmanship. Although the malls are filled with Western chain stores, it is the Abaya (worn over other fashion) that interests me most. The nuances of styles, colours and occasion. The buying habits of ladies who invest in these beautiful pieces knowing that this is not a ‘”fast fashion” item and never will be. The layers of the soul that this style of dressing emulates so well; that style is a conversation as much as with one’s self as it is with others.
There is a heady sensuality to the Arabic culture that thrills and romances me. The connection to history so seamlessly modernised in Dubai has allowed me to have a glimpse at this.