Emirati sisters Khawla and Roadha launch debut fashion collection

Two young designers, Khawla and Roadha bin Khadiya, debut their collection called Dolls at O Concept boutique in Dubai on Thurs. We learn more about the designs.

Khawla and Roadha bin Khediya's collection features hand embroidery and bright colours. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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Their grandmother and mother have blazed a regional fashion trail in recent decades, so it may have been inevitable that the Emirati sisters Khawla and Roadha bin Khediya would follow suit.

"We were brought up in a house full of fashion," says Khawla, 20. "We would walk fashion, talk fashion - everything revolved around it. As children we always mixed and matched our clothes. As we grew older Mum would take us to her boutique, Farfalla Haute Couture, and we'd play at creating our own gowns. Little by little, we - my 17-year-old-sister and I - got there ourselves as designers."

With both sisters studying at Zayed University, all their free time of late has been dedicated to the launch of their debut pret-a-porter collection under the label Khawla W Roadha. In keeping with the familial theme, the spring/summer line will be rolled out at their uncle's Dubai boutique, O-Concept Store, tomorrow.

"There are 35 pieces in all and the bright colours really reflect our personality," says Khawla. "We're targeting an age range of approximately 17 to 40, and what's nice about our dresses - made from silk crêpe de Chine - is that they are so lightweight. They are very comfortable and adaptable, meaning they can be worn by anyone, even under abayas and dressed up or down easily."

Making subtle but stylish statements under abayas is something the sisters know much about, with their penchant for printed trousers and bold T-shirts often drawing a crowd.

"We're very confident in what we wear," says Khawla. "And whenever we walk in the malls, people stop and ask us where we got our outfits or how we came up with the combination. We're not always wearing big brands, either, like Louis Vuitton or Gucci. We like many high-street brands, too, like Topshop. It's all about the styling. We like to accessorise with plenty of chunky but classy pieces. Nothing too over the top. Everything in moderation."

The sisters' tastes for the unconventional is evident in their new range with a recurring doll motif. It's hand-embroidered in vibrant colours, sporting a geometric, Missoni-esque skirt and an embellished turban.

"We were brainstorming, flicking through magazines and look-books when we came across images of dolls and wondered how we could integrate them into our collection," says Khawla. "The figures are very classy, vintage-looking, Coco Chanel-like."

Since their grandmother established a cottage industry making jalabiyas and kanduras before the girls were born and their mother's couture business recently reached a 10-year milestone, the older generations' comments are well considered, says Khawla.

"They've let us know that it isn't going to be easy," she says. "They've told us it will be hard and we're bound to experience lots of difficulties. But they are also very positive and give us plenty of advice and support."

The Doll Collection by Khawla W Roadha is available at O-Concept Store on Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai (04 345 5557) and Candela Boutique in The Village Mall, also on Jumeirah Beach Road (04 342 1961). Pieces start from around Dh1,000. Follow the brand on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Khawlawroadha