DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Just a few years ago, Gulf Arab women usually only felt comfortable showing off their fashion sense at ladies-only parties or family gatherings. In public, at least in their home countries, the standard all-black abaya — a simple floor-length covering and accompanying head scarf — was the only culturally accepted option.
But now, a new generation of abaya designers is giving the traditional garment a twist with choices of fabric, designs and even some expensive bling to allow Gulf women a host of style options.
The basic look of the abaya remains unchanged: black with long sleeves and a flowing form that somewhat conceals the shape of the body. Gulf culture and government directives encourage “national dress” for both sexes: Men wear full-length robes that are mostly white, but include other colors such as beige and blue.
Designers, however, have increasingly recognized the demand for abayas with a bit of extra flair. It can be as subtle as embroidery on the sleeves and hems or as eye-catching as gems stitched into the fabric. Top European fashion houses such as Dior, Nina Ricci and Alberta Ferretti have already put their stamps on abayas in the wealthy Gulf market for local woman, known as khalijiyat, after the Arabic name for the Gulf.
The most expensive abaya so far has been valued at $17.7 million, created by British designer Debbie Wingham and displayed in Dubai in March. It features different colored diamonds including the world’s most expensive and rare, the red diamond. There are more than 200,000 stitches in 14-karat white gold thread.
Among the Gulf countries, the United Arab Emirates — and particularly Dubai — is the center of the specialty abaya industry with exports going across the Middle East and North Africa and to some African Muslim countries. But since the Arab Spring uprisings, the UAE has sharply reduced visas from countries including Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Libya.
This has led to a steep drop in sales. Kaleem Khan, a Bangladeshi abaya designer at the Abu Hail Center in Dubai, estimated that sales were down 70 percent because regular buyers cannot get visas to the UAE.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The Peterson Farm Brothers recently finished a parody music video of the song "Roar" by Katy Perry called "Chore".
Resolution would ask state to exempt 34 city buildings from new concealed carry law.
Police are looking for a suspect who allegedly car jacked a 38-year-old man who was leaving a movie Sunday night.
Changes and upgrades to the Go Wichita website have made it easier than ever to find out what's going on and where in Wichita.
Authorities are investigating after a white powder was found at Wichita's downtown post office.
After all the problems the city has faced this year, ranging from bidding problems in major projects to the near crisis with the water supply, Mayor Carl Brewer has officially pointed his finger at city staff. The culprit from his point …
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain said Monday that the Medical Examiner reports that eight people have died from the wintry storm.