Swirling Fabric: Mirage in the Desert

A bagful of records is perhaps the most apt way to describe the constant jolts of record breaking glitz that punches you in the face every time you flex a muscle in Dubai. Particularly during the Dubai Shopping Festival, a coveted event for fashionistas, shopaholics, and those simply yearning to breathe a piece of alarmingly polished air of a jazzy desert city.

Get this: I wanted to attend Dubai Fashion for a few notable and indie designers, and was instantly pounded with a plethora of options, none of which lacked even an ounce of appeal, bringing decision-making to a complete halt. While on one hand was the Longest Catwalk at the Star Atrium of Dubai Mall, as long as 120 meters and obviously flanked by fashionites and wannabes,  there was also the Biggest Makeover, with over 100 stylists of Paris Gallery having a marathon of decking up 100 models in 10 minutes.

The opulence and energy of it all was unmatched, and having spent time in iconic cities of Paris, Milan, London and most of all New York, that is quite a remarkable feat.

Fast forward a few hours through a plane ride across the Atlantic, despite sitting through numerous shows in New York Fashion Week’s icy cold winds and media savvy air…and something seems amiss. Something about the opulence of the Middle Eastern fashion scene that pricks my memory and remains in my blind spot, beckoning me to turn around. I really doubt it was a mirage in the desert.

[Don’t worry, reviews of Fashion Week and 2012 predictions will follow, akin to last year!]

A few things stood out more in the Middle Eastern fashion scene than others. What I found most impressive was Nova Krishnan’s work, which marked the closing of Dubai Fashion 2012. Her natural heritage of luscious Indian roots and an evident awareness of Emirati metropolis culture made her collection nothing short of an an electrifying fusion.

The focus was on long, ethereally flowing voluminous dressing, putting making figure hugging and barely there clothing a passé. Ethnic grounding was evident from the collection; we saw no peek of legs which is so prominent in New York, yet we caught enough of winged shoulders, sexy backs, and engaging collarbones alike. These more than made up for an overdose of body foundation, spray tan and nude leggings.

The most refreshing of all were the colors. Parrot extracted bright hues of red green orange yellow bordered with golden thread embroidery or sprinkled with dazzling sequins at the collar and bustier, all flowing effortlessly in the desert air. It was a splash of dramatic color that added made the pieces simultaneously modern, timeless, and undeniably fun! Top that with a sprinkling of prints from slightly pastel floral to wildly subtle animal print, and the temperatures of the desert were definitely soaring!

There was a large focus on accessories – and unlike shoes and bags which take the forefront in many accessory heavy New York shows, the aforementioned necks and backs were layered with chunky traditional Indian stonework jewelery, complete with headgear, tikkas and long chandelier earrings. The use of such traditional and stonework Indian jewelry was a perfect complement to the Arabian style luxury fabrics, bringing a focus point to the enchanting effect that the models created as they poised at the tip of the catwalk.

What was most surprising was the added Broadway tribute, with models sporting extra large aviator sunglasses that even Audrey Hepburn would approve of. [What was missing was the skinny cigarette which would have probably been a taboo for the setting.] I noticed that a majority of refined and dressed eye candy equivalents in Dubai would often sport their glares in glassy malls and delectable indoors. A nice way to catch the eye without the beholder noticing, don’t you think?

What I could have done without were the luscious and silky sheer scarves, which while sometimes extremely complementary and fitting to the Arabian sand dunes, and often glamorous and providing adequate companionship to the flowing dresses, seemed to take the sheen away from finer details in the fabrics, like the heavily encrusted tassels that snaked their way up a model’s derriere as she catwalked off the stage. A mere speck in an otherwise immaculate evening.

Finally, I honestly believe that music is critical to carrying on a full fledged show, and the catwalk thumping beats were simply perfect. Fluctuating between Rihanna’s addictive S&M and the irritatingly vocalized but undeniably catchy Chamak Challo by Akon, the sound choice was exceptionally fitting for the models to flaunt their fabrics and flirt with the runway.

I’m still enchanted by the swirls of fabric, like ink dissolving into a glass of crystal water, leaving an spellbinding, mystifying, and addictively appealing effect.

Cheers to Dubai Fashion and Nova Krishnan for etching a mark, even amidst the glitterati of upcoming media savvy fashion weeks in New York!

[ And the music refuses to detach from memory either ]

29 responses to “Swirling Fabric: Mirage in the Desert

  1. I LOVE this post, Sourabh! I’ve always had a strong admiration for Middle Eastern beauty and fashion! And I love the confidence. This post goes to show you that “sexy” is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with wearing minimal clothing to reveal maximum skin or body-hugging garments, like some falsely think. I love the “liberation” in America and being able to walk down the street in super mini shorts, but sometimes American woman can go too far, not knowing when and where to just allow their natural femininity to speak for itself without the help of skimpy garments.I love that Middle Eastern women can walk in a room and steal the spotlight in a floor sweeping, colorful and flowing dress without showing even an inch of leg! This is refreshing!

    • And by the way, this is no way intended to offend or upset any American women. I am one myself. It’s just my thoughts from my observations in American culture when it comes to beauty & fashion.

    • Thanks for the insightful comment Essence, and indeed you stole my words – this is truly and totally refreshing isn’t it? The best word of the moment.

  2. Great Post Sourabh! I agree with Essence, although I feel (politically) that a woman should have the freedom to express herself how she chooses sartorially; the essence (sorry!) of a woman often demands feminine cuts, fabric and a general style that is in keeping with our innate femininity. So, although, for ‘everyday’ I might wear jeans (or ugly pyjamas) to cook and clean in, I feel most myself when I wear clothes that just FEEL more like me: girly.
    I’m glad you enjoyed Dubai. One of my most favourite places to visit and I’m so lucky we live an hour away 🙂

    • Thanks as always for the insightful comments, Jamila, your thoughts are always well articulated and thoughtful! Exactly, you should be happy with what you wear, and it should FEEL more you, too! I loved Dubai, lots of food/fashion posts will be coming up about it!

  3. Reminds me of the stuff I used to see my aunts wear growing up in Northern(and some Western) Africa a long time ago. Classy, functional (keeps you cool in the heat) and looking good without being trashy.

    Essence, and Jamila, there are times I feel we could do with some more of your kind in the west.

    Good resume of events sir.

  4. Goodness, by coincidence, I just finished browsing through last nights event photos of my photographer friend and I was thinking the same thing. Like Essence and Jamila, I am glad that we have the option here in the U.S., but because we can it doesn’t mean that we should. I wish women, especially women in my Caribbean community would learn that they can achieve sexiness by creating some mystery around “all of that”. I like to unwrap my gifts. I don’t know why most of these girls I see in these photos don’t think the same thing.

    • I couldn’t have put it better Natasha – I like to unwrap better too! Mystery and enigma is surely where its at in today’s world. Glad to know the same thoughts resonate! 🙂

  5. Wow Sourabh!! I have been on the look out for your article since the time we met at the Fashion Show…. Totally appreciate your input on the fashion show. Thankyou so much for those beautiful words… 🙂 And yes agreeing with the comments above….. There’s indeed a very thin line between sensuality and vulgarity !! Cheers

    • Thanks Nova! I was wondering how come you hadn’t spotted it yet 😉 See the kind of buzz it created? I’ll be on the lookout for more exemplary work from you, so let’s definitely keep in touch with your upcoming shows! 🙂

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