Dec 30, 2010

I want to dress like Kate Middleton...under my abaya!

If you haven't heard about Prince William and Kate Middleton setting a date for what has been called the wedding of the century this April 29th 2011, then there's something seriously wrong going on, on your side...

Suddenly, everybody wants to dress like Kate, and hours after pictures of Prince William and Kate making the official announcement of their engagement came out, women worldwide were fighting tooth and nail to get Kate's royal blue Issa dress, which is now almost always out of stock by the way.

Round sapphire rings surrounded by a circular bed of diamonds have also been flying off every jeweler's shelves since Kate was presented wearing the engagement ring which once belonged to the late Princess Diana.

So, what is Kate's style?

Well it's clearly obvious she's a big Issa fan as she's been seen out and about in Issa dresses loads of times. Other than that, it's all tea dresses and country girl style sweaters and skinny jeans in the day, black blazers teamed with printed dresses for smart wear, and sparkly sequin or embellished dresses for the night. She's never without her white Tod's bag and black suede knee high boots.

Dec 28, 2010

Trend Alert! Block Colour: The Colours You Never Dared To Wear

Looks like we made a trend prediction with The New Colour Code because wearing block colour is a major S/S 2011 fashion trend.
You could say abaya wearers are the trendsetters when it comes to the block colour trend as wearing abayas with boldly coloured chiffon sleeves and lining was a major Fall/Winter 2010 abaya trend.
Exciting medleys of vibrant blocks of colour in shades reminiscent of my childhood Crayola crayons were visible in the collections of a long list of designers: Gucci, Jil Sander, Marni, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Versus, Tommy Hilfiger, and even in the glamorous, oriental-inspired Louis Vuitton S/S 2011 collection. Even the King of shoe designers himself, Christian Louboutin, presented a new collection full of colour popping creations.

From Christian Louboutin's Spring 2011 collection

The rules? Well there aren't many really. It's all about experimenting with colour, with combinations you may have thought never could go together but actually look really good together. But what I would advise is to keep bold and bright colours with bolds and brights, jewels with jewels and pastels with pastels.
Need some inspiration? Well Her Highness Sheikha Moza was doing block colour way before any of us.

My Picks

Dec 8, 2010

Dareen Hakim...calligraphic clutches!

For those who have been following UNDER YOUR ABAYA you should know me quite well by now ... I can't resist designer pieces which infuse both Middle Eastern and Western culture ... so when I came across Lebanese designer Dareen Hakim's Arabic inscribed handbags, clutches and wristlets I knew I had found something special.

The story behind her line of bags is even more special.

The gold, silver and bronze inscriptions include not just the typical "Ma'sha'allah" or "Habeebi", but also more meaningful and often beautiful phrases such as "Hapiness is a journey" and "Love is blind". Many of the messages inscribed on her bags are the messages of love, strength, hope, happiness and resilience that came from the people of her home country of Lebanon, people who cherished every day as if it was their last throughout the years Lebanon was marked by war and conflict.

Dareen is a Wall Street business woman-turned designer, who received an MBA from Harvard Business School and spent the first part of career helping young businesses and large corporations fulfill their potential and reach success, but had a hidden passion for fashion and beauty. She went on to manage worldwide beauty brands at Maybelline New York and L'Oreal Paris and a few years down the line left that behind to pursue her dream of establishing her own fashion line. Her bags are now sold in a variety of countries across the world, proof of her popularity and success.

Dareen's bag collections include chain bags, clutches and wristlets made from plush Italian lambskin and fine leather and the gold, silver and bronze plaques are hand-inscribed by craftsmen in Lebanon. You have the option of choosing the type of leather, colour, metal and inscription for your own custom made bag.

Where to buy your Dareen Hakim bag:

Crystal Temptations, Ground Floor, Wafi City Mall, Dubai

The Guest Room Boutique, Prince Mamdooh bin Abdulaziz Street, Al Safwa Commercial Center, Sulaimaniya, Riyadh

Viola, 25 Connaught Street, Paddington, London

Dareen Hakim is also sold in numerous states in the USA as well as in Canada, Puerto Rico, Sweden and Greece. To find out their locations, check here.

Dareen Hakim can also be ordered online at DIA Boutique.

For more information, visit the Dareen Hakim website, or email her at

On My Wishlist...An Arabesque HC Abaya Please!

They may be a little pricey, but an Arabesque HC abaya and sheila are definitely worth me saving all my riyals for – it's the luxury abaya brand on every GCC girl's wishlist, including mine. What does the HC in Arabesque HC stand for? Well, Haute Couture of course!

From the latest collection

I'm literally talking about one of the first, if not the first, haute couture abaya labels in the world – ever envisioned an abaya which combines the traditional Gulf spirit of the abaya with the impeccable design and flawless workmanship of Parisian haute couture houses? Well Arabesque HC is it.
So who is behind one of the world's most beloved abaya labels?
Let me introduce you to French designer Judith Duriez – you may wonder how a non-Arab woman could be an abaya designer, but why not? Judith came to the UAE with her husband in 1993 and has studied the history, form and design of abayas for years. She graduated from Paris' best fashion school, Ecole de la Chambre Syndicate de la Haute Couture and her parents were connoisseurs and patrons of art….so art and culture run in the family.

Image courtesy of the Arabesque website

Arabesque HC started off as a haute couture label providing one-of-a-kind evening gowns for the glamorous Emirati glitterati, and at the special request of a client, who wanted an exceptional abaya to match her extravagant outfits for big and special occasions, came the idea of expanding Arabesque to include haute couture abayas and sheilas, a concept little heard of previously…and in 2001, Arabesque HC Abayas and Sheilas was born!
Judith combines all the experience, skills and workmanship she learnt working for years in Paris' biggest and most prestigious haute couture houses from Chanel to Christian Lacroix and Jean Louis Scherrer to Thierry Mugler with her abaya and sheila designs, to produce creations which are quite magnificent. The abayas are also reflective of the trends Judith witnesses first-hand in Paris. Even the Arabesque Boutique in the Palm Strip Mall in Dubai has been designed to look very much like a chic Parisian apartment – think Coco Chanel's apartment.

From the latest collection

From the latest collection

Arabesque HC abayas are often adorned and trimmed with lace and embellished with Swarovski crystals and the finished products really are majestic.
An Arabesque HC abaya and sheila may break the bank for some (like me!), but just like a Chanel 2.55 or Hermes Kelly, they are an investment for life!

All from the latest collection

Where to get yours:
Arabesque Haute Couture
Arabesque HC Boutique, Abu Dhabi Mall, Abu Dhabi
Sunset Mall, Level 1, Jumeirah, Dubai.

For more information, check out the Arabesque HC website, or email them at

Dec 7, 2010

Don't miss this store in Villagio...M Collection

There are so many pop up shops and boutiques across Villagio Mall in Doha, it's easy to walk straight past them without giving them a second glance, but the pop up store I'm addicted to right now is Lebanese jewellery designer Michella Marouni's jewellery and accessories pop up M Collection which includes Michella's jewellery and accessories brand Michella Handcrafted Jewelry.

I'm being perfectly serious when I tell you that my mum has to physically drag me away from that store every time we go to Villagio together and I spend most of my money there.

So what's the story?

Michella Marouni is one of those people who love travelling to new places and picking up all sorts of unique ethnic pieces from fabric to jewellery to precious stones and in 2006, out of her passion for creating beautiful things, "Michella" was born.

A lot of the pieces are bracelets, earrings, necklaces and hair accessories made from precious and semi-precious stones as well as pearls and beads ... there is something for everyone, from long delicate stands of pearls to chunkier, bigger statement pieces.

The store in Villagio (near Sephora) for me is like when Ali Baba cries "Open Sesame!", the door of the cave opens and he goes inside and finds the treasure ... as well as the handcrafted jewellery you've got gold plated jewellery and handmade clutches both adorned with Arabic inscriptions, punky studded wrist bands, glamorous crystal and feather embellished headbands (right on trend at the moment), the ever-popular string and cord bracelets adorned with gold and silver coins and other charms, and loads more unique accessories.

What's even more fab is that everything is affordable.

Pieces from the latest "Winter Flower" collection

Pieces from the latest "Winter Flower" collection

Pieces from the latest "Winter Flower" collection

Pieces from the latest "Winter Flower" collection

So if you are living in Qatar or plan to visit, if you don't stop by M Collection in Villagio, you really will be missing out!

For more information on M Collection and Michella Handcrafted Jewelry visit the website, Facebook page, call on 00974 55344881, or email her directly at

M Collection is opposite Sephora at Villagio Mall, Doha.

Dec 6, 2010

Everybody's talking about THE VINTAGE CLOSET

Noora Al Thani, the amazing fashionista, stylist and photographer behind Fashion The Blog (FTB) did an exclusive piece on FTB about the Emirati vintage soon-to-be store everybody is talking about right now, The Vintage Closet (check it out here).

Everybody I know recommends The Vintage Closet as the best business for ordering both new and vintage designer bags, jewellery and accessories (and at reduced prices) in the entire GCC ... some of the pieces are so rare they are no longer sold in their respective stores!

The Emirati lady who started The Vintage Closet sources the pieces from around the world, picking up one-of-a-kind treasures from cities like Paris and London. Many of the vintage pieces she sells were previously owned by members of high society. The pieces are 100% authentic and some of them are still in their boxes.

Not only can you buy, but you can also sell your designer bags and other designer pieces (provided they are still in top shape of course) and make special requests for a particular piece which they will then try and find for you.

They have an excellent reputation for quality products, amazing customer service (99% customer satisfaction!) and free international shipping. Last month they even threw in free Chanel temporary tattoos and vintage Chanel and Valentino earrings ... what more can I say?!

For now ordering services are mainly online, but they are in the talks of opening their first store in Abu Dhabi in the nearby future and are participating in galleries and exhibitions in London and Dubai ... so keep your eyes out for them!

Examples of the pieces on offer

Hermes Constance

Vintage Chanel beige jumbo 2.55

Chanel woven bag

Chanel CC turnlock earrings

Vintage Chanel black tassel

For more information on The Vintage Closet and to see the pieces they have on offer (which are regularly updated), check out their Facebook profile. You can also email them at or and for instant updates you can add them to your BB Messenger, pin code: 2208a054.

Exclusive Preview of Bullets & Butterflies

So there's only two more days to go until Dubai's newest and hippest boutique Bullets & Butterflies will be having its grand opening at the Mercato Mall which is on Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai and the owners, fashion-crazy sisters Hind and Alia Bin Kherbash have given me a preview of some of the unique pieces Bullets & Butterflies has to offer.

You won't be disappointed!