This week I m introducing a wonderful Half Emariti Half British Designer by the name of Huda. Her designer label Malaak Angelology specialises in Abaya designs and turbans. I have always been inspired by Sheikha Mozah wearing turbans and so I was intrigued to go behind the scenes of an Abaya and turban designer brand.
I wore Abaya while at university and for when the occasions required. However, in going back and forth between Amsterdam and Dubai I saw Abaya designs evolving and beginning to start following trends such as adding lace in certain colours, colour blocking and style shapes following those seen on international runways. During my interview with Huda I understood that we had a modern woman who was talented and understood what her fashion conscious customers needed. This is something she learnt from one of her teachers at LCF who told her that you must always think of your customer. This is advice Huda has not forgotten. For those readers who haven’t been to the Gulf region I’ll just let you know that women from this area are extremely feminine, style conscious and fashion savvy.
After graduating from London College of Fashion, Huda came back to Dubai with a vision to make the Abaya more modern. After learning pattern making she realised there were ways the Abaya could be cut and appear more feminine, so with that vision she created Malaak in 2010. She made the Abaya’s a bit more edgy adding good cuts and in turn helped make women look and feel better wearing the Abaya. Huda explains “There are small things that can make or break a pattern, seams in the right places just help to make it work”. This is Huda’s theory on creating her successful patterns for her beautiful Abaya’s. I seem to be focusing a lot on the pattern cutting but this is key to the success of Malaak and for me it is one of the most important things you can have in a garment that will make it look good on you!
As women have become more prominent in the UAE with many now sitting in very important positions the Abaya is also a way to express their individuality. Huda realised this and introduced shoulder pads, studs and tailoring around the ankles. This of course has given women the feeling of having something to wear that makes them more confident and gives them an edge.
For each season Huda looks at the trends and she takes inspiration from Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and many more. It’s in the details for example Huda says “I see the details McQueen uses the way they put lace and cut it very messy”. I believe these details make her Abaya’s really modern and different. As we walked through the studio I could see international designer inspiration all over the garments.
In Dubai we have so many nationalities living all in one city but I have never seen a Western Expat wear the Abaya well and the one thing I liked about Malaak Abaya’s is that they could also be worn as evening gowns. I think this is one of the ways in which Western Expats could branch into trying to wear an Abaya and still being able to feel comfortable and confident. “wearing the turban also shows your merging two cultures and it’s how you wear something at the end of the day”.
When Huda travels she wears the turban and dresses them up and down with earrings. We also discussed the merits of having a turban at the pool or beach as it can come in handy for hiding hair that doesn’t like natures elements of sun, sand and sea! If we look it back in history the Turban is very chic with Audrey Heburn wearing them and now they are making a huge come back on the runways too. Of course, the international runways also look at where their main customers are and the Middle East is becoming a driving force for fashion brands with high consumer spending amongst the trendy Gulf nationals.
As with all my interviews chat ended up turning to Travel which is important for Huda especially for her inspiration. It can be a great break for her and she says “just to see different colours is important”. Without inspiration a designer can become stuck in a rut and for someone who is so set on creating cutting edge style changes of scenery really help to give Huda fresh takes on her designs. Travel also gives you adventure and creates stories and changes moods so those moods can be carried into the designs.
Huda has grown up around fashion and design with her mum winning awards for her textile design for Liberty of London and was making clothes when Huda was young. On her father’s side the family used to make tents and therefore, fabric was a part of the culture of her family. Growing up in Dubai and being surrounded by a cosmopolitan society has also been important for Huda and this lifestyle continues to inspire her designs.
This was one of the most inspiring interviews for me and I left with so many ideas on changes in style and fashion. Also Huda and I had so many things we discussed and I had a great time spending the couple of hours with her. As you’ll see from the photos of my styling of Malaak designs she is a fabulous designer with an amazing future ahead of her.
Have you worn an Abaya or turban are you willing to try? They are gorgeous and I don’t believe you would regret the way it makes you feel so feminine. I love to wear my Abaya’s and I am so excited about now incorporating many turbans into my wardrobe. Look out for my Abaya looks coming soon but just as a teaser and to show you me channeling my inner Sheikha Mozah me trying this gorgeous velvet Abaya.
Ciao for now xx