Ever since he moved to Dubai and founded his eponymous label in 2004, wedding dresses have been Filipino designer Ezra Santos's speciality. But even he will admit crafting a dream dress for Sheikha Mahra, the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in just seven days was a challenge.
Sheikha Mahra married Sheikh Mana Al Maktoum, the son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid bin Mana Al Maktoum, last month. A reception was held in the Zabeel Hall of the Dubai World Trade Centre, attended by dignitaries from across the UAE.
Santos, who has also dressed the likes of Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Nicole Scherzinger and Priyanka Chopra, says Sheikha Mahra and her team approached him only days before the wedding with the brief.
“She wanted a Grecian-themed dress, something very simple yet regal, but also something that was a nod to her culture,” Santos tells The National.
“The catch was she wanted it in nine days. But Sheikha Mahra was so humble and so down-to-earth and accommodating that she made the whole process easier.”
Behind the scenes, Santos says it was an all-hands-on-deck situation.
“We had to stop everything and focus on this dress,” he says. “We had nine days but we spent two days sketching the dress and for the initial fitting, and actually had just seven days to create the dress.”
Santos says he and his 50-plus team – including embroiderers, tailors and beaders – worked overtime to turn the Sheikha's vision into a reality.
Sheikha Mahra recently shared pictures from her stunning wedding ceremony on Instagram, giving her followers a glimpse of the Santos-designed dress.
The striking white gown with geometric embroidery featuring thousands of Swarovski crystals was complimented by a three-metre-long cape, topped with a flowing veil. Sheikha Mahra can be seen wearing her hair loose, complimenting her dress with diamond jewellery and a diamond watch by Chopard.
“She wanted a simple veil and she didn't want to wear any headpiece,” Santos explains.
Despite referring to wedding dresses as his “bread and butter”, Santos says he still gets emotional seeing his creations on happy brides.
“For me the real joy is to see the bride happy with what we've created for them,” he says. “Sheikha Mahra was so pleased with her wedding dress, and for me that makes it all worth it.”