Elementary fashion

We caught up with the avant-garde Emirati fashion designer Abeer Al Suwaidi, who showcased her latest ready-to-wear and couture collection in Dubai on Tuesday
Abeer Al Suwaidi’s abayas on the catwalk. Jaime Puebla / The National
Abeer Al Suwaidi’s abayas on the catwalk. Jaime Puebla / The National

The avant-garde Emirati fashion designer Abeer Al Suwaidi put on quite the show on Tuesday evening when she rolled out her latest collection, titled Taboo.

Select VIPs and media filed onto a bridge near Zabeel Park in Dubai to see the 34-year-old’s latest mix of ready-to-wear and couture designs. As the range of 16 pieces filled the catwalk, the illusionist Moein Al Bastaki entertained the crowd.

We caught up with Al Suwaidi before her show.

What was the inspiration behind Taboo?

Magic, music, artistic expression and glass. Magic is taboo in many cultures and so is some music. Artistic expression is not necessarily associated with traditional garments like abayas and when you put it all together the outcome is glass – a shattering end. I’m encouraging the audience to make of it whatever they want.

Talk us through the line’s look and feel.

The Magic collection is gold, purple, maroon and mustard. The Music collection features belts and harnesses made of animal hair. I was also inspired by some locally based artists, photographers and Jackson Pollock, so I had fabrics made based on that. I used lots of crepe, crinkled chiffon and the Magic collection has a lot of heavy gold embroidery. There’s also specially created plastic pieces – with artwork simulated onto them – for the Glass collection.

Why Pollock?

Because he’s nuts! [laughs] I feel very close to him!

Did you formally train in design?

No, I graduated in communication technology. When I opened my boutique USH I had my own corner – it was like a laboratory for me. That was when I started to have a following and realised that people wanted something a little bit wild and different.

Where does your creative streak come from?

Definitely my childhood and the way my parents raised me. I mixed with a lot of nationalities, not just in my own community. My parents are both artists and art was important in our house.

What do your family make of your work?

My immediate family, parents and siblings are supportive. There are also parts of the family who find it a bit outrageous.

How do you deal with critics?

It’s inevitable because I’m dealing with a traditional and culturally sensitive garment. The young generation is supportive; the older generation doesn’t always take it so well.

How much further are you looking to push the abaya in design terms?

It has much further to go. That’s why I’m doing this show now. The abaya is not just one four-yard square piece of fabric, there’s much more we can do with it. I actually find the abaya the hardest thing to design because of the limitations and things that must be respected.

Any plans to show at Fashion Forward?

Fashion Forward works mainly with ready-to-wear. I’ll do my own show my way until I find out where I belong. I have ready-to-wear, but I don’t like to be asked to design certain things for certain seasons or to certain rules. I like to do what I want.

• Abeer Al Suwaidi’s collection is available at USH Boutique, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, Dubai. Call 04 344 2202 or visit www.ushboutique.com


Published: March 22, 2014 04:00 AM


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