Picture your dream Ramadan wardrobe. It might well include an intricately-embroidered kaftan from Oscar de la Renta, a show-stopping red chiffon Elie Saab gown or the opulent print dresses of Jenny Packham. This Ramadan, your fashion needs are met courtesy of Net-a-Porter, which has brought together 10 of fashion’s biggest names to design limited-edition collections – pieces you’ll want to wear throughout the Holy Month, and beyond. “During the past few years, our Middle Eastern customers have expressed increased interest in special pieces designed specifically for Ramadan, and our designer brands have responded with exceptional kaftans, gowns and dresses tailored to the occasion,” says Elizabeth von der Goltz, Net-a-Porter’s global buying director, “With more than 40 eveningwear pieces to choose from, we know our customer will love this exquisite collection.”
It speaks volumes about Middle Eastern spending power that top designers, from Zuhair Murad to Erdem and Etro, have put pen to paper to design and create a one-off capsule collection for such a special time of year. “I think it’s the sense of family and a sense of warmth,” says Mary Katrantzou, of “the deep connection” she has with Middle Eastern women. “In the end, fashion is a projection of a woman’s personality and the values that you have, and I respect those of Middle Eastern women deeply. Net-a-Porter inspires women in the Middle East to look at their culture and their roots and celebrate what they mean in the modern day. That’s why I am glad to be part of this project.” Understanding the desires and demands of a Middle Eastern clientele in terms of colour, cut and embellishment, executing creativity with precision was of paramount importance. “Women in this region have such an innate sense of style,” says Georgina Chapman, co-founder of Marchesa, who has designed a four-piece collection of kaftans in royal blue, fuchsia and emerald with luxe details such as hand-beaded embroidery and fringe detailing. It’s a sentiment echoed by Erdem Moralioglu. “I love designing with my Middle Eastern clients in mind as they are so modern and fashion forward – it allows me to be bold with print and colour,” he says. So, whether you’re looking for an understated daytime two-piece or a more dramatic evening kaftan, follow in the footsteps of these three women and make Ramadan a month of both spirituality and style.
MTHAYEL AL ALI
Not content with being one of the UAE’s biggest influencers (696k followers and rising), in 2016 Mthayel Al Ali started her own media company, Tkhayyal. “I wanted to do more than just my Instagram, so I set up my agency to create content and campaigns targeting local people in Dubai,” she says. “My next plan is to start a social media academy where people can learn about this business.” For now she’s inspiring the next generation of Emirati women through her outfits. “During Ramadan I feel really inventive with my wardrobe, like I’m setting new trends,” she says. “It’s about upholding the traditions and cultures, but giving it a modern twist. That’s what my whole fashion sense is centred around – taking international trends and adapting them for this region.” She says the most treasured item in her wardrobe at this time of year is her gold jewellery. “I wear it a lot during Ramadan,” she says. She also loved the white robe patterned with feathers that she picked out for Bazaar’s shoot – “I’m a big fan of print.” Along with opening up her house to gatherings and going to events, Mthayel is looking forward to volunteering during Ramadan. “I’ve been working with elderly people for many years, but this year I hope to work at a local orphanage,” she says. “Ramadan is a very relaxing time so I find it creative, but it’s also an opportunity to give back to your community. For me that’s what it’s all about.”
Although she hasn’t even graduated from her degree in creative advertising at American University Dubai, Asma Al-Aloosi has already built up an impressive CV. She fits in her studies alongside a role doing make-up for events and festivals for the company Glitterbox, and a job in production for the beach nightclub Blue Marlin. “I’m always on my feet,” she says. “If I’m not in class then I’m grabbing my laptop and heading to a café to work, or I’m running errands or planning an event.” With all that running around, it’s lucky that Asma’s favourite wardrobe item is sneakers. “I’m a total sneakerhead – I have about 30 pairs and my favourites are Nikes,” she says. “I build whole outfits around my sneakers.” But with Ramadan comes a big shift in footwear – and state of mind. “During Ramadan the way I dress completely changes,” she says. “It’s more modest, but it’s heels and it’s dressed up. It’s a fun excuse to go all out and wear the long abayas. Designers have become really creative and exciting with their Ramadan collections.” Asma describes her own style as eclectic. “Even if I’m going stylish it will have a twist. I have a kimono which I like to style up as a dress or a cover-up.” She loved the high-waisted flared pants and top she wore for our shoot. “They were so comfortable,” says Asma. “You want something flowy and light at this time of the year.” Although she’s excited about family meals to break the fast – “there’s always lentil soup on the table and samosas, and then the Vimto comes out,” – Ramadan is a time for reflection. “Ramadan to me is that annual chance to get away from the world to restart and get yourself back on track,” she says. “It’s one month to pick up better habits that you can then carry on for the rest of the year.”
For Lana AlBeik, Ramadan means one thing– family. It’s an approach that extends to her career as a filmmaker, model and project manager for a creative agency. “I got into modelling because my sister, who’s an architect and designer, started a 3D-printed jewellery brand, and I modelled the pieces for her Instagram,” she explains. “And with my filmmaking right now, I’m working on a very personal documentary with my cousin about my family history.” So this Holy Month she is looking forward to festive gatherings with her nearest and dearest because, “I barely get to see them the rest of the year because of the hours I have to work.” Lana will be switching up her usual wardrobe of “casual denim and black” for “the softest, silkiest, smoothest fabrics I can find. Clothes during Ramadan and Eid are a lot looser and more relaxed,” she explains. “For me, dressing modestly means that I’m in the mood to feel more soft fabric on my skin. When I find a piece that will cover more skin, it will be the softest piece in the building.” It’s no wonder Lana picked out a loose, royal blue suit for our shoot. “I fell in love with the soft fabric, the luxurious colour and the silky shine of it. It just made me feel so elegant – like a queen.” As modest-wear becomes one of the defining trends of 2018, for Lana there’s an underlying political message. “It’s really lovely seeing the fashion scene move closer to being more inclusive of what women want,” she says. “Instead of having to adjust to certain standards and expectations or fit under false ideas of beauty and style, it’s all about personal preference now. For me modest fashion going mainstream means acceptance.”
Fashion editor: Gemma Deeks.
Hair: Emma Gambino.
Sarah Jane at MMG Artists.
Fashion assistant: Sanika Tipnis
With thanks to Tania’s Teahouse