Mar 31, 2011

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: The New Arabesque Sheilas and Abayas "AM...PM" Line

You heard it here first!

You might remember a while back I blogged about only one of the most prestigious abaya labels that are out there, Arabesque Sheilas and Abayas, founded by by French designer Judith Duriez, based in Abu Dhabi, who frequently goes back to Paris to source fashion inspiration and study the latest international trends first to then channel them into her abayas.

Well in her last trip to Paris she picked up upon the current minimalist trend running through catwalks, designer collections and in street fashion and it hit her that this was something she could do with abayas - I mean if you think about it, recently the abayas you see in some boutiques have become so overdone, taking a minimalist approach to the abaya is exciting.

"AM...PM" is the name of the new line, abayas with an interesting minimalist cut and shape, which can be taken from day to night. They are perfectly suited for the woman-on-the-go - you know when you're looking for that ideal abaya for shopping, going to work or university, or for having lunch with your girlfriends but either the abayas you have are too plain or too glamorous - well the "AM...PM" abaya is just right.

The abayas in the line have black-on-black embellishments in sophisticated black fabrics like fine black lace, and as usual they were specially sourced and exclusively created in Paris for Arabesque.

And the best thing of all, they will really pop against an acid bright or neon coloured bag - you will really nail this season's colour blocking trend!

Where to get yours:
Arabesque Sheilas and Abayas
Abu Dhabi Mall, Level 1, Abu Dhabi
Palm Strip Mall, Level 1, Jumeirah, Dubai.

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

Mar 25, 2011

Accessories Report S/S 2011: Part II

So bags are more of an over-your-abaya item than under-your-abaya item, but where there goes an abaya there goes a bag. On the rare ocassion I have dared to venture out of my house (I wear an abaya full-time) without a bag, I have felt naked.

And so you may wear an abaya, but that doesn't mean your bag shouldn't co-ordinate with the abaya you are wearing - you wouldn't wear a glamorous evening clutch with your everyday, plain work abaya, just like you wouldn't choose a casual hobo or bucket bag to wear with one of your more special, embellished and well embroidered abayas.

I think the whole acid bright/neon coloured bags are great - choose a minimalistic type abaya and pair it with one of these bags and the contrast will be amazing! Like I said, that's colour blocking to the max!

The important thing to remember: the right abaya + the right bag = glamour, glamour, glamour.

Mar 24, 2011

Fashion a la Mode straight from Qatar... MODE Fashion Line

(Excuse the title of the post, I was trying to sound French, although I don't speak a word of the language.)

Getting down to business, I recently came across a line of some of the chicest tshirts I have ever seen, and what's even more fabulous about these beautifully embellished tshirts is that they are sold here in Qatar and designed and made by a Qatari designer.

MODE Fashion Line is the recent creation of fashion designer and VCU Qatar graduate, Maryam, who with her line of one-of-a-kind tshirts creates casual looks which are both classy and sophisticated - jewel coloured chiffon belts that tie at the back, studded and embellished shoulders, cute flower corsages and ruffles, giant velvet bows and glamorous Chanel motifs - all perfect with skinny jeans and a pair of heels under your abaya...prices are very reasonable at an average of 250 QR...No more pondering over what tshirt to pair with your skinny jeans then!

Maryam actually studied Interior Design, not fashion, while at VCU Qatar, but her love for everything fashion led her to do some fashion courses, create her own line and she now plans to study fashion in London.

"I've been working on the first collection for almost 3 months; I did a lot of sketches and fabric hunting until I chose the final designs ... so far alhamdulillah I have got a lot of orders", says Maryam. "I am also working on my summer collection, and a new concept of T-shirts and blazers for kids too. What makes my brand unique is that I am combining two different styles...contemporary casual T-shirts with classy fashionable accessories". 

To purchase one of Maryam's tshirts from MODE Fashion Line, email her at, or contact her directly by calling her at 00974 66867326.

You can also contact MODE on their Facebook page and follow MODE on Twitter.

Check out the MODE blog for a full catalogue of all their pieces.

Mar 13, 2011

Talking art, fashion and what Bahraini women wear under their abayas with editor-in-chief of Sketchbook magazine, Wafa Al Obaidat

If you are a lover of art, design, culture, style and fashion, and have been searching endlessly for the perfect magazine which rolls all these areas into one and serves as a constant source of creative and fashionable inspiration, I've found it for you ... it's Sketchbook.

Literally like an actual sketchbook, this quarterly magazine launched in October 2009 is full to the brim of pages packed with raw fashion, art, design, photography, graphics, sketches, drawings and illustrations from both emerging and established designers, artists and photographers. It's a magazine for the creative, the stylish, the cultured and the innovative and a platform for new creative talent.

So who is the genius behind this amazing magazine? 

Guess what? It's one of our sisters from Bahrain! 

Wafa Al Obaidat

23-year-old Wafa Al Obaidat, founder and editor-in-chief of Sketchbook, the blogger behind Fashion Ambitions and founder of design agency Obai&Hill, is a self-proclaimed magazine-aholic and in her 5 years living in London she searched for a magazine rich in drawings and illustrations that celebrated and experimented with people's creative talent. When she could not find her dream magazine, she decided to make it herself, putting together a team of 150+ individuals.

Sketchbook now has a readership of around 7000 people both online and in print in the UK, the US and in Canada and recently, Wafa brought it to her homeland of Bahrain and plans to launch it across the GCC...I can't wait!

Even better, I got the chance to have a few words with this inspirational fashion-tastic lady myself...

1)     What has been the response of your Bahraini readers and other readers in the GCC to Sketchbook so far? Are people here in the GCC appreciative of the same types of art, culture and fashion as those people you encountered while in London?

I found that in London I have had a more engaging audience and approach from the readers whereas locally it is more of admiration and praise rather than the readers really getting involved. I find that my most positive response in the GCC has been from people in Kuwait and Bahrain. They seemed to have picked up the work.

2)    Will you be incorporating Arabic and Middle Eastern art, culture and fashion and other influences into the magazine?

Yes, we are working on a digital version of Sketchbook called Sketchbook Live that will be coming out soon. Sketchbook Live will hopefully go into a more digital direction and will include an Arabic section. So, we will be covering Arabic content as we have an established Arabic team, correspondents and reporters since moving to the region and we will continue to do so. This way, we can cover things in art, culture, fashion and others in Beirut, Kuwait, Qatar as well as be up to date and aware of what is going on around the region.

Wafa and friend at London Fashion Week

3)    Tell us more about your latest project, Malja.

When I first came to Bahrain there was no sort of hub for artists to meet, gather and work like in London, and so I took up this initiative with the Ministry of Culture. I have a great project manager, Mariam Al-Shaikh, who is well on-board and enthusiastic with the project getting sponsors, meeting the artists, working with construction proposals as well as other organizational tasks. We have gotten great feedback and response from the artists we have met and seems to be going in the right direction into being a huge project.

The Birth Story: In December of 2010, H.E. Shaikha Mai bint Mohamed Al-Khalifa, Minister of Culture, generously assigned Obai & Hill's Creative Director Wafa Al Obaidat to transform the Art Center in the Kingdom of Bahrain to an active and permanent venue.

Wafa teamed up with the young Graphic Design and Photography extraordinaire Bader Kamal to merge minds and come up with a concept to solve some of the neglected obstacles facing the young creative community in Bahrain using the Art Center.

Malja is on track to provide the following:

- One-stop hub for the increasing number of creatives to temporarily work, network, and collaborate with peers from other creative fields.

- A simple streamlined process to aid the growing creative industry in Bahrain in finding, supporting, and promoting new artists.

- An inspiring venue that actively promotes work and ideas of all creative fields into one melting pot.

4)    So tell us Wafa, what do Bahraini women like to wear under their abayas?

It really depends on where they are going and who they are with. Sometimes they wear comfortable clothes such as light jerseys which are often worn or they wear casual smart clothes. Others like to glam it up, be unique and chic too. It really depends. For me, personally, I like comfortable clothes.

5)    Do Bahraini women have a distinct sense of style?

I think due to Bahraini’s living on an island and having this sort of island culture we are very laid back which I think is reflected on our clothing and style. We wear light dresses, jeans and flowy or soft shirts and blouses and it just seems to be very natural and relaxed.

6)    In your opinion, what style staples should every woman own, abaya wearer or not?

Personally, my staples are a pair of skinny black jeans, a pair of cream/nude heels that you can wear with any outfit, comfortable ballet flats, one pair of Raybans or aviators that you can wear daily, a fitted blazer and one large YSL duffle bag.

7)    And, what are this season’s must-haves?

On my summer shopping list are canvas flats, an oversized two-toned tote, a striped cotton sweater dress and printed silk satin pants. Oh and a perfect white cotton shirt.

Wafa at London Fashion Week

For now, you can order a copy of Sketchbook by emailing the team directly at

Do check out their website, or visit their Facebook page and their blog.