Dubai: Emirati fashion designer and entrepreneur Noora Al Alawi has always tried to break the mould with her fashionable and quirky abayas. To Al Alawi, they are more than just fashion. They're a statement.
Her atelier in Al Quoz, Nuna Atelier, is a symbol of her drive to empower women and Emirati business.
This year, to mark the UAE's 45th National Day, Al Alawi created a special abaya called Skyline 45.
Typical of Al Alawi's not so typical style, the abaya doesn't carry the red and green from the UAE flag, but still stands out with its simple monochrome palette, with the cuffs of the sleeves showcasing a black embroidery of the Dubai skyline. This abaya costs Dh1,600.
We talked to Al Alawi about her design and inspiration.
Tell us more about Skyline 45. How did you come up with the idea?
I was thinking of a dress to design as a commemoration with the upcoming UAE’s 45th National Day and I saw so many abayas with a lots of green and red, so I decided to just use a pearl white fabric, embellished with the famous Dubai skyline, and this is why I named it Skyline 45. For me it is a symbol of the futuristic dream of Dubai when it comes to architecture and landscape, that impossible is nothing, while keeping the humility and purity of a nation that is rich in tradition culture.
Why did you choose white for the UAE’s National Day celebration?
I really love white. I think it reflects simplicity with an unfailing touch of elegance and purity. I decided not to go for a colourful look as I want it to be different this time. I want the beauty of the fabric to shine and the famous skyline of the UAE to be on the spotlight.
What is the biggest challenge for an Emirati designer?
Challenge is very healthy as it keeps designers on their toes. The biggest one, I believe, is time. Because Dubai is so fast paced and it changes by the minute, you always have to think fast about the next trend that is going to be. And because Dubai is on the global map, the fashion evolution doesn't stop here, so you always have international standards to meet. The speed though of the fashion industry is very thrilling, it keeps me young and fabulous.
Kendall Jenner recently wore your abaya. How did she hear about your collection and what did she have to say about it?
I am very proud to be noticed by a huge Hollywood celebrity. I was referred by a friend to her and during her "secret" UAE visit. She called us with her team at her hotel and then she was given different kinds of abayas and luckily, she chose one of my collections. She said she loves it and she was even super nice and generous to take a picture with it. She surely loves the UAE tradition and has many positive statements about the UAE’s fashion scene.
The UAE is a melting pot for all nationalities. Do you think fashion can unify everyone?
I think fashion has always been a driving force for anyone to showcase their creative side and be able to relate to someone. Especially living in Dubai there are so many different cultures and nationalities. You can always spot amazing fashion forward females with unique fashion styles. I always end up chatting with them randomly at the mall or at a coffee shop share tips and fashion advice exchange numbers and become friends sometimes it can really break some walls. However, the best thing that can unify us is kindness and that's the best fashion statement anyone can wear.
What's your message to the UAE leaders?
I want to thank them for their sincere leadership, they have achieved in such a short period of time what no country has ever done in ages. They are really the greatest leaders of all time. They genuinely care about their people and believe truly in investing in the nation, and they want the best of everything for their people. I truly think it's a blessing to be living in the UAE.