Thursday, January 24, 2013

Muscat Fashion Week 2013 Day 1: credits Nawal Al Hooti, DAS, and Zhor Rais

DAS abayas not shown on the runway, Arabic calligraphy on sleeves reads "love"
Please note, all photos, unless otherwise credited, are my own.

Muscat Fashion week opened with the collection of Omani designer Nawal Al-Hooti [who has just opened her boutique in the Galleria of the Royal Opera House]. The pieces began with Omani-influenced touches on non-traditional separates, such as Omani embroidery on the hem of a skirt or tunic top......to local embroidery on the legs of a simple pair of leggings. Since Omani and Emirati girls have always traditionally tended to wear leggings under their jalbaiyias/caftans the leggings below were one of my personal favourite looks from the collection:
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
Shurooq al Haremi for Mademoiselle Shosho
Also featured, beyond Omani handiwork, were textiles associated with Oman, as apparent in the tunic-top below ...and Omani silver touches on the belting.
Honestly, as an Omani girl per say, I was a bit disappointed that I did not see any actual regional dress, just the influences of such in the overall collection. If anything could have made up for that fact, it was Nawal's jalabiyia/caftan in muted silvers and golds, and shades of vivid green and a poignant baby-blue:
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
Photo taken from Mademoiselle Shosho
Shurooq al Haremi for Mademoiselle Shosho
Shurooq al Haremi for Mademoiselle Shosho
Photo taken from Mademoiselle Shosho
Shurooq al Haremi for Mademoiselle Shosho
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
The floor-length Arabic styles had a very soft flow to them as the models rushed past, their hair brilliant in coiled coifs.
Photo taken from Mademoiselle Shosho
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
 I still love Nawal and loved the red dress she herself wore to MFW13 [and was surprised to see how much she resembles one of my SILs---Aalia, I bet you can guess which one;)] but wanted more Omani traditional dress on the runway.
Between shows we saw a presentation of gold jewelry by Jawahir I believe? I don't know. The girls where I was sitting were distracted by the wadi dog up on the hill where the Muscat Fashion week lights were spotted that was running back and forth chasing the lights, as well as the fruit bats, also confounded by the show's lights. The bats were winging above, as models swooped past below with wings just as black... but a touch more glamorous. I don't like bats myself, but could always do with a pair of wings;).
Photo taken from http://www.facebook.com/pages/Muscat-Fashion-Week/103505283101327
The next collection up was DAS. ***I also had the opportunity to see the collection up-close at the Opera Galleria***.
The opening outfit was mercury-fluid in the DAS trademark cut, which was represented in fabrics as varied as silk chiffon...to green metallic brocade.
Shurooq al Haremi for Mademoiselle Shosho
Shurooq al Haremi for Mademoiselle Shosho
 My 2nd favourite look from the DAS collection was the pearl studded number in the signature DAS cut. The green brocade, I don't know how anyone could wear that, having held the scratchy sample in my own hands. The silk chiffon version on the other hand though---it's colour was between yellow and mandarin orange, which I found to be quite zesty compared to alot of the other pieces in the collection that night put me to sleep, was soft and succulent perfection.
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
Shurooq al Haremi for Mademoiselle Shosho
Shurooq al Haremi for Mademoiselle Shosho
Source unknown.
Arabic calligraphy via embroidery was featured very artistically in the collection. I thought it was most lovely when paired with lilac inserts. I could definitely see myself wearing the above-featured mauve skirt and blouse paired piece. I loved the detailing when I saw it up close.
 The show-stopper piece [above] bore all the trademarks [except a capelet] of the current DAS collection: waterfall cut, Arabic calligraphy embroidery, and small beads spaced evenly through-out the design. As I continued to watch the show, I grew bored because I was waiting for the abayas. DAS is all about the abayas.
 Thankfully, my boredom [I have a very short attention-span] was momentarily alleviated when a modest gown with a beaded and embroidered capelet trounced down the catwalk. You could tell the model, too, was as invigorated from wearing it, as I was from seeing it, because of the delightful lipstick red shade of the garment. Miss Model swept the stage in crimson blushing slashes. I will repeat. I was delighted. More so, when I had a chance to examine the detailing of the capelet up close:
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
 Finally, the abayas arrived, and then they abounded, surrounded, and were so fast and so many I couldn't get a single good shot. I will blame the models, instead of my inability to change the settings on my camera or hold it still.
Shoulder detailing is a big trend in abayas in general. Nothing new there, but the fabric inserts along the sides of this particular piece give it its DAS character.
 The asymmetrical layering and fabulous handwork marked this DAS abaya [above pictured] to be a crowd favourite.
Collage and photo directly above it by Shurooq al Haremi for  Mademoiselle Shosho
 Similarly, the side pleated drape from the waist of an abaya embroidered and beaded in the same manner wowed the majorly abaya-clad crowd. It was my favourite abaya.
Designing new drapes and cuts is what the DAS brand relies on more than finishing touches, which has allowed them to be a leader in the designer abaya business, but a velvet bow at the waist never hurt anyone.
Lace inserted panels and smocking has been big in terms of abaya trends in general, but DAS had a lovely lace capelet style abaya that I personally found charming and fully in line with the rest of their collection, in terms of the collection being well thought-out as a whole. It also was a good transition piece from their last collection modeled by the Angelina Jolie look-alike;).
Pleating at the bottom hem of an abaya featuring black Moroccan-style embroidery on top, is very in line with current abaya trends in general as well.
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
 Some very classic designs along with a few technically difficult cuts made to appear simple.
Photo taken from http://www.facebook.com/pages/Muscat-Fashion-Week/103505283101327
Of all the collections I was interested in, this one's designer [at the Opera Galleria] was sitting alone, seemingly bored and playing with her phone, but I did not approach her. I was too shy. What a loser, I know;).

The last designer for opening night was Morocco's Zhor Rais. I had the chance to interview her daughter at Muscat's Opera galleria about the construction and textiles for the garments. None of that mattered during the actual show of course, when a series of fairy-tale worthy Moroccan dejellaba and takchita [otherwise known as caftans] streamed down the Riyam park runway, serenaded by nigh mystical and haunting traditional music that I had to resist swaying back and forth to. It was my favorite show.
 Caftans of the utmost simplicity in snowy white, and the occasional winter fabric opened the show.
 Mauve, succulent but tart citron hues, and darker shades of green seemed to be part and par for all of the collections that evening.
My favourite piece of the Zhor Rais collection happened to be a timeless little 'sea-foam' coloured number though, that being just a personal matter of taste [I didn't buy it though, since its price tag was 1,000.000 OMR, which is a little over 3,000.00 USD]:
 From sweet white innocence the caftans featured evolved quickly to extravagance in thick teal and yellow velvet, brocades hand-woven in Morocco, and through silk chiffons and satins sourced from Europe.
The yellow velvet dress pictured below was the crowd favourite after the finale's show-stopper:
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
The rich tones of the velvet seemed so suitable to the near chilled air [at least, for any of us locals] of Riyam that night. Maybe that's why red capelets, or velvet were so bewitching?
Honestly, almost any Moroccan caftan seduces me so I can't be a good critic, but the collection (and it's soundtrack) did convince me that I have to visit that country later on this year. I need a chance to escape, where it is ok to wear a red cape. Also, any Zhor Rais piece takes anywhere from around 2-3 months to complete, and every design is only made once. So I am thinking, if you are craving individuality, a trip to the Casablanca [I believe] workshop of this particular designer might be in order?
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
Beyond the high impact of the red cape [I personally wasn't a fan of the fabric when examined up close] against the white of the dress, the detailing on the takchita is exquisite if you are to witness it in person. Apparently there is just one old man left in Morocco who still makes the all the traditional fastenings in the traditional way [how true that is I have no idea] and I love how the piece came with a pair of princess-perfect slippers.
 As for this being the first Muscat Fashion Week I have personally attended, I have to say that I really enjoyed myself. I think I enjoyed even more the opportunity to see the workmanship that goes into the clothes up close, and speak to the designers about their methods, inspiration(s), and aspirations for their respective brands. I don't know about my readers, but I have been perfectly content about life in Muscat, since the first fashion week was announced;). I intend to follow the event every year, even if I am unable to attend the runway shows myself. I love the recognition it gets for our young Omani designers, and I love how it shines the spotlight on Arabic region fashions and trends.
Helle Moos for FASHION EXCLUSIVE
 Please stay tuned for my thoughts on the collections of Dibaj, Endemage, Jizdaani, and Mauzan, as seen at Muscat Fashion Week. To end this post, the Zhor Rais finale through my eyes:

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