Tag Archives: East and West

Meet Malaak

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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ciao for now xx

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Meet OTT

Ladies and Gentleman, I have been waiting to make this post for a while but traveling and everyday life has slowed by blogging down but now I m back and here to hit you with a visual punch. Today’s post is all about the wonderful OTT designer brand that originated in Dubai but has cast its colourful lines around the globe.  The genius duo behind the brand stay anonymous so that the fans of OTT are truly fans of the products, and as you can see from the pictures below that’s not hard to become (I’m a convert).

The ethos of the brand has remained since its establishment in 2005 in London after one of the dynamic duo had been to Central Saint Martins and quite soon after they came back to their home hub of Dubai. They have remained underground since their beginning and they are not participating in the fashion weeks that are happening in and around the Middle East. OTT say they don’t create show pieces but, they are designing for their customers and I believe that it is this ethos that keeps their gorgeous pieces beautiful . I can honestly say there wasn’t one piece that was shown to myself and January where we didn’t fall head over heels.

At their first fashion week in Germany which they won a competition to participate in they had come with their bright colours and everything else around them was black. So the following year they toned down their colours to try and fit in, but then they realised that Germany was not the place for them. The next stop was Paris and this was where OTT had found their customer. For budding designers the advice from OTT is trial and error but ultimately its your product and focus.

The great thing about OTT is their products, when you touch the clothes the fabrics feels wonderful   and as you’ll see from the photos the prints are also beautiful, original and different which makes them stand out from the crowd. I really believe that OTT’s designs are the perfect mix of Eastern style with the colours and cuts but can also be Western with their laid back styles. OTT says “I try to Westernize the Eastern Pieces and Easternize the Western pieces.

As January and I began to play dress up and touch the clothes the only thing you could hear was two girls totally coo-ing over clothes “oh Jan feel this, Oh Jan, see how this falls” “Sophia try this, look how beautiful this one is, I wish we could wear clothes like this more often” And so it went on, OTT definitely is true to the Gulf Style of opulence but January and I both said how fab these pieces would be for holiday clothes to Ibiza, Latin American, Thailand or; see we were just looking for excuses ….. basically where them anywhere. I suggested I would wear OTT kaftan’s at home when I had people for dinner (look out for an invitation soon)!

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The emphasis is really on the fabrics for OTT, when the accessories were pulled out such as the bag and scarfs seen above we fell head over heels. The bag is a bag in a bag, so you can use the clutch by itself or the bag without the clutch. My immediate reaction was, “I could use this here but I could then have this scarf with my leather jacket in Amsterdam” These are perfect pieces for me, when I m living between two places.

OTT is inspired by their travels and the world around them. Last year they travelled to Mexico and were inspired by the Latin colours and fringing. Therefore, the previous collection featured images of Frida Kahlo and what an amazing look that was (see pics above). This year they were influenced by the Arab Spring and freedom so the collection features images of the Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum and Soad Hosny as well as flowers and of course colour. The collections tell stories and this makes their customer know they will have these pieces in their wardrobes for many years to come and whilst they are relevant now they will also be pieces you have truly invested in.

Now OTT is reaching a bigger fan base by producing beautiful phone cases and Ipad covers which are price sensitive and  are not the same as the clothes. This constant evolving of the products and the markets they reach is what is helping OTT to stay successful year after year.

Do you love to wear colour or are you afraid of colour?

Ciao for now xx

P.S I found OTT at B51 but you can also buy it from Bloomingdales Dubai and S*uce

P.P.S look out for the exclusive Sojustnice photo shoot for OTT

The Jetty Lounge is my new favourite place ….. fact its Sojustnice! I love that you can just sit out on the beach and enjoy a Dubai sunset whilst being in a relaxed but stylish atmosphere. I m crazy about the sea, sand and palm trees so while the weather is still good I will be going back again and again! If your there for cocktail hour, there is plenty of choice and the Mezze is the best accompanying food for your chilled out evening. Jetty LoungeIMG_2471IMG_1900Foot firstMy favourite thing about defining my style is trying to find the fashion equilibrium between Eastern influences with Western style. My outfit for the Jetty Lounge was a local kaftan in seafoam colour mixed with denim shorts, hope you like this outfit?

Top: Souk in Dubai, Shorts: Zara, Shoes: Oasis, Nail Polish: Essie