The pop-up shopping event at The Galleria on Al Maryah Island turns the spotlight on local artists and creatives.
Searina Kader’s brand tells her own colourful life story through its mix of high fashion and street style. She recently experienced temporary blindness after a cooking accident, and the first collection she designed as she started to regain her sight was called I’ve Got Sunshine. “This collection is colourful, bright and flowery. When people wear my clothes, they come to see the world as I see it.”
The ready-to-wear brand includes an abaya line, too, with prices ranging from Dh400 to Dh4,000.
“I try to combine the everyday look with the abaya. A lot of locals now like this style. Even for work, you can wear a white shirt and black trousers with a colourful abaya.”
Kaber compares her style to Dolce & Gabbana’s.
“On many occasions I launch something, and two seasons later Dolce & Gabbana launches it. Our minds think the same,” she says.
When Samer Alogidi wasn’t busy trimming the town’s hounds at his Abu Dhabi dog-grooming salon, Pooch Parlour, he loved to travel and observe how men abroad like to smarten up. Alogidi was particularly inspired by the streetwear he saw on jaunts to South Korea and Japan.
“I was seeing how there is an alternative to the mainstream fashion,” says the 37 year-old Iraqi. “This new sense of style was not catered for here in the UAE, especially in Abu Dhabi. The fashion-forward concept and the daringness of their style is really astonishing - they wear items that you would not think about matching together.”
Alogidi spent 11 months seeking out designers and small labels from different parts of the globe “with an eye for edgy style” to feature in his new menswear boutique.
In October, he launched his store in Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and to Alogodi’s surprise, about 80 per cent of his customers have been Emirati.
“They wear these kinds of fashion-forward concepts very well, because they have a great sense of style,” he says.
Alogodi describes his clothes – which include drop-crotch trousers with a dark, avant-garde feel – as being “for those who want to be the centre of attention”.
He thinks the Galleria will provide the perfect location to showcase them, providing “a venue for the sophisticated palette of consumer – people who seek individualism and quality in their design”.
S by Sahar Karmostaji
The 29-year-old Emirati Sahar Karmostaji is a self-confessed make-up hoarder. It might seem like a curse to some, but for Karmostaji it is a trait that has prompted her to launch her first company, S by Sahar Karmostaji, selling make up containers spacious enough to pack in large amounts.
When Karmostaji got married and moved to Abu Dhabi last year, she confesses that her make-up was “all over the place”.
“I had my make-up inside big vanity drawers, and a stack of drawers on the table,” she says. “There was also a cupboard in my closet, and I even kept eye pencils and eyeliners in my mugs.”
Karmostaji, who is an interior designer and make-up artist by profession, decided drastic action was called for. “That’s when it clicked. Why don’t I just design my own make-up holder? There was no one in the Middle East doing this.”
Karmostaji started sketching and enlisted her husband’s help in finding a factory to bring her design to life.
“That was the hard part, because no one was willing to make it,” she says.
“I think we went through seven companies abroad before one of them got in an engineer to cut out the pieces and show us how to build it together.”
Karmostaji’s custom-built make-up container, which she will be selling at The Station for Dh850, is transparent and made from acrylic, with a large drawer at the bottom for palettes and smaller drawers for foundation bottles and primers. On top, there is space for eyelash cases, small cylinders for eyebrow brushes or eyelash curlers and small niches at the top for concealer. One whole side is dedicated to the lips, with holders for 18 lipstick tubes and 24 liquid lipstick or lip glosses. The holder also rotates.
Now that her make-up is all packed neatly away, Karmostaji hopes it will be safe from the clutches of her 17-month old daughter.
“She has ruined a lot of my compact powders, she’s put her fingers through my lipstick tubes … I have lost a fortune because of her,” Karmostaji says. “But as long as she is enjoying her time.”
Ibtisama, which means “smile” in Arabic, is the only express teeth-brightening concept in the UAE.
“Nowadays when you go to a mall, you can find a place to do your hair, skin and nails in a very fast way, but what about the smile? The smile is missing,” says the company’s Swiss-Syrian chief executive, Maissa Fattal, 32, who is aiming to fill in the gap.
“Teeth treatments used to be thought of as something more medical, so people were a bit scared of it, but now we are making it more democratic.”
Fattal explains that for Dh225, visitors can relax in one of their bubble chairs for a 15-minute treatment, which uses only organic solutions and can last for two to three months.
The company’s products are also available on souq.com. Most of the customers at Ibtisama’s salons in Abu Dhabi Mall and Dalma Mall so far have been men.
“The smile is powerful,” she adds. “We should not neglect it.”
As well as exhibiting her range of pastel-coloured abayas, Sharjah-based designer Rana Alnasar will be showcasing her personalised line of eyelashes.
The 12 lash styles of Alnasar’s Minx lashes, which she started selling seven months ago, represent the 12 signs of the zodiac.
“I’m really into horoscopes,” says the Jordanian. “Whenever I meet new people, I try to anticipate what their star sign is. I designed the lashes according to each of the star sign characteristics.
“Geminis are lively, youthful and adaptable, so I made the lash longer for them. Pisces on the other hand are sensitive and imaginative, and I made those lashes thinner.” Alnasar describes her Dh150 mink-fur lashes as “100 per cent cruelty free”.
“You can use them up to 20 times and they are easy to apply,” she adds.
Al Besht Al Arabi
Husam Jaber’s company, Al Besht Al Arabi, provides the men’s cloak, the bisht, which is worn on formal occasions.
“These items are recognised as a sign of wealth and prestige,” says the 36-year-old Jordanian. The made-to-measure bishts are crafted by professional tailors with generations of experience. One piece takes two to three weeks to make.
“My aim is to bring this fashion back to life, and for these to be treated like jewellery,” he says. “I remember watching my father’s uncle, who always took such care with his bisht and used to carry this around with him all the time. He was very proud of this and wore it for special occasions. It was this sign of luxury which really impressed me.”
Al Besht Al Arabi have a store in WTC Mall. Their pieces start from Dh7,000 per piece.
For Egyptian Nabila Aboaawfa, who splits her time between Abu Dhabi and Cairo, her abaya company, Only Me, is the realisation of a childhood dream.
“I remember being charmed by the vision of a woman wearing elegant and rich fabric from the time I was a little girl,” she says. “I grew up with a great desire for fashion, and did lots of sketching and studying different designs.”
Now that she has now been in the business of designing abayas for 13 years, her company has stores in several locations, including Cairo and Dubai’s Wafi City.
“I truly believe designing traditional clothes and royal abayas is a true sign of elegance”, says Aboaawfa. “I ensure the latest trends are aligned with the material I use, which includes crystals.”
Only Me’s pieces start from Dh1,500. Aboaawfa decided to become involved in The Station after consulting with her Abu Dhabi clients: “They all recommended me to be involved in this.”
Mahra Fares was an electrical engineer for Etisalat for 15 years before deciding to start up her own creative gifts and home accessories design business three years ago.
“I decided I wanted to make something separate from work,” says the Emirati mother of four, who lives in Abu Dhabi. “I like to travel abroad and when I do, I see a lot of souvenir items presented in vintage or funky ways, and I like to collect them.”
Fares decided she wanted to try designing similar products to those she had seen on her travels, which would reflect the styles of the people of the UAE.
“I want to present art in a more modern way, not only pictures or pieces of culture, but home accessories and gifts too,” she says.
Her gifts, which include a hand-painted purple tray and espresso cups, feature stylised Arabic calligraphy.
“My target customer is especially teenagers because I have kids of this age myself,” she says. “Sometimes they know our original Arabic language, but I am trying to present our language in an artistic way, in items that they might use in their everyday lives.”
Fares designs the illustrations for her products and works with graphic designers to bring her ideas to life – one of whom is her sister. The first Alzamen Aljameel Store is now open in Garden Plaza, in Khalifa City.
“I want to be famous, I want to build my name,” she says. “The Galleria is the right place for that – you give something special here, something you cannot find anywhere else.”