May 31, 2011

Qatar's Next Big Designer: Selina Farooqui

On Thursday (June 2, 2011) I'm going off to the W Hotel Doha to see Doha-based Indian designer and recent Virginia Commonwealth Qatar (VCU Qatar) graduate Selina Farooqui's latest collection. If you are in Qatar (or nearby) and also want to attend, you can RSVP Selina directly by emailing her at or calling (00974) 3306 5743.

A bit about Selina, who just graduated from VCU Qatar a few weeks ago, winning the W Doha and VCU Qatar Fashion Award, VCU Qatar Award for Special Recognition for Outstanding Fashion Student for her senior collection as well as VCU Qatar's Golden Needle Award twice for being such an amazing and hard-working student...This girl is extremely talented - when she was still in her Junior year (she studied Fashion Design) she was approached by Cugini, one of Qatar's chicest boutiques (situated in The Pearl Qatar) and ended up getting her whole collection stocked and sold there! Since then, she's been a firm favorite at Cugini as well as with many private clients. 

Selina Farooqui standing next to her collection in Cugini

  Since then she has developed her own eponymous label, "Selina Farooqui", and has had her collections showcased at fabulous trunk shows including one at Zai Boutique, another one of Qatar's most prestigious boutiques.

Her first collection had a lot of Indian and ethnic undertones to it using a varitey of luxe fabrics like brocade, silk and chiffon. Selina says she sources her inspiration from everywhere - nature, art, objects, different countries and cultures, people and history. “One thing does remain constant in my style of design. There is always a hint of rich ethnic undertones, whether it is in the choice of colors, fabric prints, buttons, trims, or other details. I think that part of my design aesthetic comes from my own background and culture,” says Selina. She has also taken up making custom-made jalabiyyas for private clients, which involves a lot of emebellishments and incorporates Arabic flavors. What's unique about her designs are that they look so luxurious, so opulent, so dreamy and romantic, and yet they are light and easy to wear.

Of her graduating senior collection she told Qatar-based fashion magazine Glam, "My collection is inspired by the transformation from winter to spring. The colours start off in the pastels range and as the collection continues, the shades get deeper and richer, like flowers coming into bloom. The silhouette has a bit of volume around the body,  making it easy to wear, but with the waist defined with handmade belts. It features luxurious French brocades, creamy chiffons, handmade pleats, silk flowers, opaque crystal and matte sequin embellishment".

Ah, the collection sounds heavenly; I can't wait to see it!

Selina modelling her own design

Selina modelling her own design

Selina modelling her own design

Selina modelling her own design

Selina modelling her own design

May 30, 2011

More designer exclusives from the Bras For a Cause Middle East design contest!

I've just found out some more exclusive information about some of the amazing fashion designers taking part in the established designers' category in the Bras For a Cause Middle East design contest.

Do you want to know who they are?

Lama El Moutassem, designer and founder of Toujouri

First off it's Toujouri. I've featured Toujouri and its founder, Iraq-born designer Lama El Moutassem, a few times on UNDER YOUR ABAYA - the Doha-based label is coveted for its amazing hand-printed, hand-embroidered and hand-embellished kaftans, gowns and cocktail dresses which put the "q" in quality. I wonder if Lama will opt for one of her famous hand printed designs for her entry? 

(From left: Sarah Beydoun and Lebanese legend Sabah with a bag dedicated to the superstar)

There is no way you have not heard of Sarah's Bag, founded by Lebanese designer Sarah Beydoun. I love the digital print clutches printed with the faces of famous Arab icons like Um Kalthoum. What's special about this label is that the marvellous bags embroidered with beautiful Arabic words and sayings are made in co-operation with underprivileged women in Lebanon, providing them with a livelihood and more importantly, a source of pride and empowerment. Do you think her bra design will incorporate more wonderful traditional Arabic calligraphy or perhaps a digital print of another well known Arab icon?

Mia Jafari

British-Iranian designer Mia Jafari is the master (or mistress) of digi-broidery - a unique technique which combines Eastern embroidery with digital print. The result is something quite magnificent - the silk scarves are like mini Persian carpets and the dresses are a mix of jewel coloured modern Western designs and historic Eastern motifs. I can't wait to see her design entry.

Amina Khalil

Egyptian designer Amina Khalil takes traditional and historic Egyptian textiles, embroidery and prints and gives them a modern twist, making sure that this part of Egyptian heritage is not lost. I'm talking exquisite gold and jewel coloured Pharaonic stripes, and prints and motifs found on traditional Egyptian thoubs and galabiyyas - the hip and the fashionable in Egypt may not wear thoubs and galabiyyas anymore, but they can still wear a part of their heritage through Amina's chic shirts, shorts, skirts and dresses which use Egyptian textiles.

Rana Mouawad through her Dubai-based label Maison Rana brings together women with design talent from different cultures, professional fields and walks of life to produce collections which ooze with femininity. Rana's designs are always fresh, simple-cut, colourful and most importantly, define the feminine silhouette.

Shaikha Haya Al Khalifa and Sheikha Noor Al Khalifa of Noon by Noor in Bahrain have put their country on the fashion world's map through their ultra-hip designs. From glamorous hand-stiched, hand-embellished silk jackets to on-trend tailored trousers, there isn't anything the duo can't make and they always incorporate a little bit of Bahrain into their designs.

Don't worry though, you won't be competing against these designers! They will be submitting their entries for the established designers' category. There are four other categories open to everyone.

The submission page on the Bras For a Cause Middle East website is now up and running and you can submit your entries by June 26, 2011 11:59 pm GMT latest.

So what are you waiting for?

May 26, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Issa London one of the big designers taking part in Bras For a Cause Middle East!

The design contest for the next bra designs which could potentially transform breast cancer survivors' lives is on! The Bras For a Cause Middle East design contest will be running until June 26, 2011 and you can submit your entries right up until 11:59pm GMT on that date.

And in the category for established designers there are some pretty impressive names already on board...

Daniella Issa Helayel closing her A/W 2011 show

One of them is Issa London - yes, the design house behind that dress (the navy blue dress Kate Middleton wore when she and Prince William first announced their engagement back in November 2010). Thanks to all the publicity surrounding the dress Kate Middleton wore, Issa London's A/W 2011 show was one of the most highly anticipated...and Daniella didn't fail to impress. I'm sure she'll produce just as an impressive design entry.

Joe Challita

Also on board is Joe Challita, the Austrailian-Lebanese designer famous for his romantic and lavish gowns reminiscent of haute couture designs of the past. His dresses are luxurious while having a lightness to them. Consider him the next Elie Saab. Will we be seeing a likewise romantic but light bra from Joe?


Also in the running is Indian-born, Dubai-based designer and print master Shrekahnth. The free spirited designer wows us each season with his designs which use digital art prints inspired by Dubai's architecture, Islamic art and traditional ethnic prints. We can expect his bra design to make a statement.

What about you, have you started sketching your design yet? 
For all the information you need on the contest, how to submit your entry, guidelines, the categories and design templates, make sure you visit the Bras For a Cause website and be sure to "Like" the Facebook page.

May 20, 2011

The Bras for a Cause Design Contest...How you can enter

It's time to get brainstorming because the Bras for a Cause Middle East design contest has begun!

Here are the categories again:

Established fashion designers are invited to take part in this category by designing and producing a distinctive bra or tshirt for this cause, to be later auctioned at one of the two upcoming fashion shows to raise funds for regional breast cancer organizations.

This category is open to everyone. One of the most important categories in the contest, the "Her Bra" Design category involves designing a bra specifically for breast cancer survivors. That means you will need to keep prostheses and other special fitting needs in mind when you design the bra. Need help? Bras for a Cause suggest you speak to breast cancer survivors and ask them what would be their ideal bra.

This category is open to fashion designers and other people working in creative fields. Design a bra that can be worn by all women - you could create the next bra trend!

Open to the public, this category is perfect for emerging fashion designers, creative talent and students.

Now it's time for the tshirt! This category is open to all fashion designers, artists, graphic designers, illustrators and/or interested in designing a creative tshirt based on the theme of breast cancer awareness.

For more information on the categories and to download the guidelines and helpful links click here.

The prizes!

Now for the part you've all been waiting for - the prizes! Entries can be submitted by June 26th, 11:59 pm GMT latest after which a two week public voting period will take place (June 29th-July 10th). Entries will be posted on the website for you to vote for. Then the jury will judge all entries and make their final choices for the winners, which will be announced on July 14th.

The "Her Bra" Bra Design Category
First Place:
Second Place: $350
Third Place: $250

The "Everybody Wants Me" Bra Design Category
First Place: $550
Second Place: $350
Third Place: $250

The "Training Bra" Bra Design Category
First Place: $300
Second Place: $250
Third Place: $150

The "Such a Tee-s" Bra Design Category
First Place: $350
Second Place: $250
Third Place: $150

It doesn't stop there - you will also be working with Bras for a Cause to turn your winning bra or tshirt design ino a reality. They will be showcased at one of two fashion shows which will take place in Beirut and Dubai - and don't worry, winners win 4 event tickets each too. After that, your winning bra or tshirt will be produced in stock to be sold in October 2011, with proceeds going to breast cancer organizations around the region.

Entry guidelines

1. Contest is open to the public, regardless of design background. Participants are requested to select a design category based on their skill level and interest.

2. For Bra Design Categories, participants must submit detailed sketches (A4 size) to best represent the designs they have in mind, including one sketch of the front view and second sketch of the side or back view. Only one sketch required for t-shirt designs.

3. For T-shirt Design Categories, participants will be expected to submit the following:
- One A4 or A3 size layout with the design that will go on the T-shirt
- One A4 size layout of design on T-shirt template to show where the design will be positioned on the T-shirt

4. Alongside the design sketches mentioned above, ALL entries must be accompanied by:
- Title for the designed piece 
- Description about the design
- A mood board or description what inspired the design
- Detailed list of fabrics, colors and other design requirements
- Target audience: Who is this bra or t-shirt designed for?

5. Each participant has the right to submit up to (3) different designs within any of the contest categories.

Contest Schedule:
Contest Launch: May 19, 2011
Contest Deadline: June 26, 2011 at 11:59PM
Online Voting Period: June 29, 2011 until July 10, 2011 at 11:59PM
Winners Announced: July 14, 2011

For more information on the contest and to download the tshirt template click here.

Don't miss this exciting opportunity to help breast cancer sufferers and survivors across the Middle East as well as get your bra or tshirt design on the catwalk and worn by women across the region!

For more information about the contest and to find out a bit about the jury, make sure you check out the Bras for a Cause website. And don't forget to click "Like" on the Facebook page too!

Now get designing!

May 18, 2011

Bras for a Cause Middle East campaign begins tomorrow!

Calling all creative talent out there in the Middle East! Tomorrow (Thursday May 19, 2011) begins one of the first fashion-meets-a-cause campaigns of its kind in the Middle East - Bras for a cause.

Everybody's favorite Middle East based trendsetting website Fustany and One Wig Stand have joined forces to create a fashionable campaign running between May 19, 2011 and June 26, 2011 that will support women who have or have had breast cancer across the region...and they want you to be a part of it.

Whether you're a fashion designer, illustrator, graphics designer, artist, student, or just creative and talented in the design stakes, you can enter the Bras for a Cause design contest by designing a bra or a tshirt and the best designs will win some very exciting prizes. Not only that, but if your design wins, it will be catwalked at one of two upcoming fashion shows in Dubai and Beirut and later in the year it will be manufactured and sold on the market!

Why you should participate

In this day and age, almost every one of us has at least one relative or friend who has been affected by breast cancer. My paternal grandmother died of beast cancer when I was eight years old. The good news is that today, with early detection methods like mammograms and MRIs, or by simply feeling your own breasts regularly to look out for any changes, many of us women have a good chance of surviving it.

However, breast cancer survivors in the Middle East who have had a single or double mastectomy (i.e. a breast or both breasts removed) face slightly more challenges when it comes to readapting to life than survivors in the West. For one thing, there are almost no specialized lingerie shops in the entire region, and custom made bras and prostheses made to order online are often very expensive, so finding a good-fitting bra and prostheses which makes them feel womanly and good about themselves again is virtually impossible. Plus, for some Arab women in certain countries in the Middle East, losing a breast or both breasts presents them with the fear that their husbands will reject them and maybe even marry a second wife.

By participating in Bras for a Cause, believe it or not, you could be giving breast cancer survivors a new lease of life through a proper fitting bra. You will be giving her back her confidence and that feeling of femininity.

The categories

Here on UNDER YOUR ABAYA I will be keeping you up-to-date with the campaign and the contest, with all the info on how to enter and submit your entry.

For now, check out the Bras for a Cause website and Facebook page for more information, and most importantly, spread the word!

May 11, 2011

Launch Collection of Abaya Couture: Edgy Abaya Fashion

Looking for an abaya with a bit of an edge? An abaya which is more tough luxe than Little Bo Beep? Well look no further...fresh out of the UAE, Abaya Couture is one progressive abaya label perfect for those of you who like an abaya with a bit of personality and attitude!

Abaya Couture is the creative genius of an Emirati designer who goes by the pseudonym Badr Al Budoor. Founded in April 2009, Abaya Couture has become popular with women in the UAE for its freshness and free spirit. Having spent years living in the UK, Spain and Italy, Badr has combined the artistic and design know-how she learnt in Europe into the traditional abaya. The result? Abayas made up of two pieces - the first piece being harem pants connected to a bandeau top (like a sort of abaya jumpsuit) or a long, flowing tiered skirt connected to a bandeau top, and the second piece being a sort of cap.

For that tough luxe factor, it's all about pretty hardware- silver chains, silver tool fabric and belt bows. Pefect with a pair of Loubs I say.

But what everybody wants to know is, what does the brilliant Badr Al Budoor look like?

How to get your Abaya Couture abaya

Female residents in the UAE can get in contact with Abaya Couture via their email address or call them on 00971 50 6501 754 and organize a collection viewing at an arranged location.

To purchase an Abaya Couture abaya, visit the website.

For more information about Abaya Couture or to get in contact, call them on 00971 50 6501 754, or email them at

May 3, 2011

Can't get enough of Wayed Vintage vintage!

Anyone who says us girls in the Middle East can't do vintage is wrong – and Dana Faisal, owner of online vintage boutique Wayed Vintage is proof of that.

Wayed Vintage was set up by Dana in 2007 out of her love for all things from the golden Hollywood era, with Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe being her major style icons. "I came up with the name Wayed Vintage, because I had this vintage look and my friends would always tell me "shaklech wayed vintage" which means "you look so vintage", and "wayed" means s0 or a lot in the local Emirati dialect," Dana explains.

Inspired by the fashion and glamour of Hollywood's stars and movies back in the 40s, 50s and 60s, Dana, who is currently majoring in marketing at the University of Dubai, launched her own online vintage boutique, so that in her words, she could bring the fashion of that era back!

200 dhs

The majority of pieces are genuine vintage jewellery pieces sourced from Germany, Switzerland and the United States. Many of them are one-of-a-kind pieces (i.e. only one of them exist) and are in excellent condition. Some of the pieces date back as far as the 1950s. The selection of earrings is amazing – fabulous gold plated clip-ons with shining pearls, rhinestones, Swarovski crystals, multicoloured gems and gold – just the type of earrings Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren would wear back in the day and which glamorous celebrities like BeyoncĂ© wear today.

100 dhs each

What is great about Wayed Vintage is that everything is affordable – vintage pieces can be really expensive, but Dana has put a really affordable price range – we're talking prices as low as 80 dhs! The majority of pieces range from 150 dhs-300 dhs and the more exclusive pieces range between 500 dhs-1500 dhs – still very affordable.

300 dhs

Also in the lines is Dana's own vintage-inspired jewellery line which she hopes to develop further once she graduates from university.

Dana takes private appointments should customers want to view the pieces in person. Customers may also arrange for Dana to visit them at their houses in a private meeting if there is a minimum of 4 female customers in that meeting. She also meets her customers at arranged coffee meetings and tea parties. (THIS APPLIES TO CUSTOMERS IN DUBAI)

200 dhs each

(Left: 200 dhs, Right: 150 dhs)

(Left: 150 dhs, Right: 160 dhs)

(Left: 180 dhs, Right: 250 dhs)

(Left: 170 dhs, Right: 80 dhs)

(Left: 300 dhs, Right: 230 dhs)

How To Order
All products are uploaded and displayed on their Facebook page
Step 1: Send item name or number, they will reply and tell you if it is available or sold.

Step 2 : Send them your mobile number and mailing address details so they can confirm your order.

Step 3: They will deliver it to you in person if you are living in Jumeirah or nearby, if not they will send it to you via Aramex and you will pay the shipping fees which cost between 20-40 dhs.
If you live out of Dubai, they ship worldwide.

For more information or for a private viewing of their collections, take an appointment by calling 00971 0566945898 or add them on their BB pin: 257367ee. You can email them at

May 2, 2011

The Print Lowdown S/S'11: No. 3 Florals

I created these looks using a fun styling website called Looklet where you can create looks using designer and high street pieces using virtual models.