Published: Monday, October 02, 2017    

By Yara Boraie and Sana Panjwani

As the regional fashion scene takes off, Oasis Living chats with the female founders of four local labels about their red hot Middle Easterninspired designs

T he fashion industry in this country is booming. And it’s not just the love of swanky Western brands that is seeing consumer spending go through the roof – the region's own homegrown labels are suddenly flourishing.

Recognising this new wave of local talent, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have been playing host to numerous fashion events, with the latter even establishing a permanent platform – Dubai Design District – as well as the launch of the Dubai Design and Fashion Council.

Several online platforms like Namshi and Sivvi have even been established in response to the rising interest in both UAE and Middle Eastern style, and malls too have been frequently running exhibitions showcasing regional flair, setting up right next to international brands.

From simple, modest wear to surreal staples, Oasis Living met with four leading regional fashionistas – all powerhouse females – for a closer look. Forging a unique signature style Lebanese accessories designer Nathalie Trad, headquartered in Dubai, is undoubtedly one of the region's hottest fashion success stories. Since the launch of her eponymous clutch label, she quickly rose to international acclaim with dozens of celebrities – Amal Clooney, Olivia Palermo and Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz – proudly toting around her designer bags. Her Middle Eastern heritage has had an undeniable impact on her creativity. She witnessed the transformation of Dubai from desert to metropolis, an experience which explains her interest in incorporating the idea of metamorphosis into her designs.

“Accessory design gave me the puzzle I have been seeking,” said Trad, whose penchant for asymmetric designs forms the basis of her lines. “I like to take classic shapes, ubiquitous in our natural environment and radically transform them, deconstructing and redefning the boundaries of fashion aesthetics.”

Her latest AW17 collection, Revelry of Reverie, features bags of wintery pastel shades in tones of rose, teal and ivory juxtaposing with glittering tints of silver and blue. "Clutches are now transformed into shoulder bags with cylindrical silhouettes that drape over the arm with a strap of velvet and cubic trompe-l’oeil forms that give the illusion of a box," Trad explained.

Unveiled at Paris Fashion Week, the latest collection is not only taking the UAE, but the world by storm as Trad played with new inlay methods this time with certain tones – rose and teal – being achieved through adding a layer of colour under a white hammer shell.

“It's not about wanting to just create accessories," said the designer, "I wanted to create edgy statement sculptures that would allow whoever was wearing them to stand out and make her own statement.”

You can buy her products at

Contemporary couture

Launched in 2015, Dubaibased Anatomi Offcial is the brainchild of Canadian Doa Alghouti. The brand features a contemporary style fusing classic with modest elegance, and showcasing versatile shapes with detailed embellishments and impeccable tailoring.

The brand is quickly establishing itself as a go-to stop for travel wear, and a popular choice among fashion bloggers like Saufeeya Goodson and Fatma Husam. “I’m always aiming to reinvent the classic design pieces,” said Alghouti, whose latest collection, Fall 2017, takes inspiration from Islamic art and architecture.

This collection follows the same Middle Eastern inspiration as her previous lines with all clothing featuring the same modest look all the while differing in their sense of pattern.

When it comes to upcoming local trends, Alghouti said: “I believe that there are so many strong talents in the UAE who are not afraid to show their ideas. Personally, I can see so many trends emerging at the moment, and one of my personal favourites will be stripes.

“I always make sure to use trends in my own way, because what matters the most is your style. Trends can be worn in different ways as long as it looks good on you,” she added.

You can fnd the brand’s items at

A symbol of pride

Five years ago, four Emirati sisters Noora, Alia, Fatma and Sara Al Taher came together to redefne the traditional abaya with modern, contemporary twists to evolve the garment beyond its traditional image and look, under their brand acronym NAFS Designs.

The brand has garnered steady growth and fame over the years, with fashion bloggers like Mthayel Al Ali modelling their abayas. Their Ramadan collection was also handpicked to be showcased in City Walk's Parisian LE66 Concept Store during an event set up by Fouz Al Fahad, one of the pioneers of fashion blogging in the Middle East.

Describing their designs’ style as experimental, atypical and chic, the Dubai sisters credit the city as their inspiration, and also regard Dubai to be the Middle East’s fashion capital.

Since, the brand has garnered itself a following of over 203,000 on Instagram. Its most recent collection, Raw, features chic and open-seam detailing that sees ruffles, and button-down pleating across the abaya. “Wearing an abaya is a symbol of pride for us so when we noticed the limited local abaya market, we were frustrated,” said Fatma.

“The brands were ridiculously expensive, limited in scope and didn’t defne our style underneath the abaya.

“In the last few years, the concept of the traditional abaya has been redefned, with more complicated cuts, tailoring, and colour; now lighter tones are more socially acceptable.

“Girls now want an abaya to reflect their own sense of style and personality. So not only do we design affordable luxury abayas, but unique ones. We take risks in our cuts and fabrics, and make our designs more edgy, which allows them to be styled more diversely,” she added.

You can buy their products at

Beauty lies in its simplicity

The modest fashion movement is all the rage these days, and one of the leaders of this cultural movement is Al Ainbased, Egyptian blogger-cumentrepreneur Soha Taha, founder of the Soha MT Collection.

Covering cosmetics, hijabs, basics, bishts (cloaks), and bags, she describes her collection as 'edgy modesty', experimenting with worldwide trends and moulding them to make her own unique styling.

Her most popular line is her bisht collection, which is exclusive to females only. The designs are unique, taking inspiration from Middle Eastern elements, with intricate detailing of tribal prints on solid colours.

“The Islamic fashion movement is about looking and feeling good, while maintaining one’s modesty; wear whatever you want or like make it loose-ftting but not too sloppy,” says Taha.

“The popular trend now is oversized anything and everything – a bonus for hijabis,” she added.

Last year, Taha took part in the annual Global Islamic Economy Summit – under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai – as one of the panellists in the discussion of social media’s influential role in promoting modest fashion alongside Kerim Ture, the cofounder of, a prominent Turkish online brand.

She also participated as an influencer during the 2017 Istanbul Modest Fashion Week. You can fnd her products at

Trailblazing the Middle Eastern style

Going from desert living 45 years ago to a booming metropolis, the UAE is on its way to establishing itself as a fashion powerhouse as it provides a larger and larger platform for the growth of this feld by attending to the education, designing and entrepreneur sides of the business.

The regional talent continues to pave the way for Middle Eastern style to hold its own in the international sphere, and inspire Westerners to take cues as well – as is evident by the growing platform of Arabic fashion on stages abroad.

The Arab world has defnitely come a long way in garnering global interest, and still holds the potential for more growth with more eclectic lines coming on to runways and inspiring a whole generation of fashionistas.
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