DRESSED TO SKILL

WRITES ON A SAUDI FASH­ION HOUSE WHICH BLENDS SPLASHES OF RE­GIONAL COLOUR, THE SKILLS OF LO­CAL AR­TI­SANS AND HIS­TOR­I­CAL IN­SPI­RA­TION, TO CRE­ATE CON­TEM­PO­RARY WEAR

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - CONTENTS - MUHAM­MAD YUSUF * WHEN WAS ABADIA ES­TAB­LISHED? Pho­to­graphs show­case Abadia cre­ations.

‘Abadia’ is an RTW (Ready To Wear) line from the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia, com­mit­ted to pre­serv­ing the crafts­man­ship of re­gional ar­ti­sans. It does this by work­ing with them and giv­ing them a sus­tain­able source of in­come, com­bin­ing their work with mod­ern aes­thet­ics.

Founded by Naeema and Shahd AlShe­hail, it has been praised from The King­dom to Paris for its con­tem­po­rary in­ter­pre­ta­tion of tra­di­tional pieces - prov­ing you can in­deed wear your rich his­tory on your clothes.

Abadia col­lab­o­rates with fe­male ar­ti­sans across Saudi Ara­bia, util­is­ing their skills in sadu and em­broi­dery. Cul­tural pride is in the fore­front of the ef­fort; the sil­hou­ettes are min­i­mal and el­e­gant.

The craft of sadu weav­ing that has been passed down through gen­er­a­tions is given new life and wider re­cep­tion and the hand­crafted de­tailed pieces are care­fully in­cor­po­rated into the inal wear­able de­signs.

Abadia has gained renown for its farwa, the coat worn by Be­douin men dur­ing desert win­ters. The de­sign, in Abadia’s hands, has been turned into women’s wear, and was a ma­jor hit dur­ing Paris Fash­ion Week in Septem­ber, when the brand made its de­but. The re­cre­ation won ap­plause for the case that it is de­signed for women who are not afraid of ex­per­i­ment­ing.

Abadia finds in­spi­ra­tion from the nat­u­ral beauty of the King­dom’s Al-Hasa re­gion, the largest date oa­sis in the world. Sprin­kled with springs and dashed with green, for Abadia it is a source of life and colour, sur­rounded as it is by the sever­ity of the desert.

Shahd AlShe­hail says she tries to pro­duce the stark con­trasts of the land – her land - in her work. So khakis, greys, browns and yel­lows are found in plenty in her cre­ations.

The sadu is yet an­other tie up with lo­cal cul­ture. Sadu em­broi­dery, bead­ing and pat­terns, orig­i­nate in the time­less sar­to­rial his­tory of the King­dom.

Part of Abadia’s mis­sion is to put Saudi de­sign on the global map – though the as­ser­tion that the brand is in­deed Saudi and its vi­sion is in­deed global, are not be­lieved at irst. But it forges on, not least be­cause the feed­back it got in Paris was truly im­pelling.

Big stores from France, USA, Ger­many and Rus­sia, among oth­ers, synched with its de­signs and placed or­ders for their

re­spec­tive clien­tele. Abadia will be back in the ring come Paris Fash­ion Week 2019, mean­while do­ing shows, both in the King­dom and over­seas.

Shahd Alshe­hail, brand Co­founder and Cre­ative Di­rec­tor, is pro­foundly pas­sion­ate about her work. She comes from a back­ground of work­ing with ar­ti­sanal com­mu­ni­ties. She weaves her story to Time Out

Abadia was founded in 2015; how­ever, we started work­ing with the ar­ti­sans in 2008.

* IS THIS THE FIRST TIME ABADIA WAS SHOW­CASED IN PARIS?

Yes, we show­cased our SS19 col­lec­tion at Paris Fash­ion Week for the irst time. Our vi­sion has al­ways been global, we want to es­tab­lish Saudi lux­ury fash­ion and crafts­man­ship, as a se­ri­ous player on the world stage.

As a brand, we have a unique and authen­tic ap­proach to lux­ury fash­ion and we be­lieve that sets us apart. We are in­spired by our cul­ture, her­itage and the in­cred­i­ble crafts­man­ship that you can ind across the re­gion.

And through this we want to change the nar­ra­tive and open up the world to the real Saudi Ara­bia. There­fore, Paris made for a nat­u­ral it.

* WHICH GLOBAL STORES HAVE PLACED OR­DERS WITH YOU?

SS19 will be stocked at Moda Operandi, Far­fetch, as well as bou­tiques in Rus­sia and con­cept stores in Switzer­land.

* HOW DOES THE GROWTH AND DE­VEL­OP­MENT OF MODEST FASH­ION STRIKE YOU? PRE­DICT ITS FU­TURE.

Modest dress­ing has al­ways been a part of our cul­ture, and one which re­gional brands have al­ways con­sid­ered in their de­sign and pro­duc­tion. I be­lieve ev­ery woman has the right to wear what­ever makes her com­fort­able, and she de­serves ac­cess to those op­tions.

* HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED WITH THE AR­TI­SANS? ARE THEY SAUDI NA­TION­ALS? (IN DUBAI, DE­SIGNS ARE OUT­SOURCED TO WORK­ERS OF MANY NA­TION­AL­I­TIES).

We started work­ing with ar­ti­sans in 2008; we work with over 40 Saudi fe­male ar­ti­sans who work on cre­at­ing the de­tails of our col­lec­tion. These ar­ti­sans work on tech­niques that have been prac­ticed for gen­er­a­tions.

Our aim is to gen­er­ate sus­tain­able em­ploy­ment for these women for years to come as well as pre­serve the crafts­man­ship and her­itage of Saudi Ara­bia.

* HOW HAS THE AL HASA OA­SIS - A WORLD HER­ITAGE SITE - IN­FLU­ENCED YOUR DE­SIGNS? THE FLOW, VOL­UME AND TRANS­PARENCY OF YOUR CRE­ATIONS - HOW MUCH DO THEY OWE IT?

The SS19 col­lec­tion is all about ori­gins and roots. It is an ode to the beauty and en­ergy of the Al Hasa, the largest date palm oa­sis in the world, and our home­town.

It’s lush with date palm trees and nat­u­ral wa­ter springs, the oa­sis is a source of life and colour; yet it’s sur­rounded by a re­lent­less desert land­scape.

The con­trast be­tween the two acted as in­spi­ra­tion for the col­lec­tion: you see it in the con­trast be­tween flow and struc­ture in fab­ric, vol­ume and trans­parency, as well all the ar­ti­sanal de­tails. The main sadu tech­nique used in the col­lec­tion is called Ain AlHasa.

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