How Fashion effecting on the Culture of the Abayas in UAE
By Mariam M. Al Harmoodi
The Emirati Abayas is our national Dress, part of our culture and how fashion affected this culture. it is a piece of black fabric that Muslim women wear over an outfit as a way to cover themselves. It is commonly worn in parts of the middle east, most particularly countries of the Arabian Gulf. In the UAE, it is considered part of the formal dress code.
The abaya is worn with a sheila, a loose fabric covering the women’s hair, or a niqab. It is usually offered in Black, but in recent years, the abaya is available in many colours.
Do You Know How did the Abaya reach the Arabian Gulf? It is said that the Abaya, or the long Garment itself, came from Syria or Iraq about 80 years ago. Women that time have used it as a source to keep their privacy and cover while moving between towns or cities.
Emirati Abaya is one of the national garments that express our culture and tradition in a modern way. But recently the abaya has taken a different route than being used as a form of a cover-up, nowadays it is seen as a statement piece with many brands locally and internationally competing with the latest trends and cuts attracting many costumers globally, including non-Muslims, to make the abaya part of their style.
The abaya went through many changes over the years to represent the women’s identity at that time. In the ’70s the abaya was short and like a shawl covering the top part of the women body. Then the evolution of the abaya into the fashion word began in the ’90s after the westerns perceived the abaya to be mysterious and they had many opinions over the Arab women. In the early ’90s, the abaya’s came in different cuts. the most notable cuts were the “Butterfly” and the “Bracelet”. The abayas were black with minimal embroidery in black as well.
In the 2000s, abaya designers decided to stand out by creating abayas with different fabrics and integrated colourful fabrics and designs into the black abaya in a minimal way without taking the simplicity of the abaya away. The abaya has been through many phases from being a simple large shawl in the 70s to a colourful minimal abaya in the late 90s. The abaya is no longer restricted to the Middle Eastern and Khaleeji societies, but it is now recognized worldwide among many westerns, especially influencers that you can see have the modern abaya included in their style.
Many international designers such as Dolce and Gabbana have been influenced by Abaya and created various looks to make women feel unique in theirs. The abaya has also influenced international designers’ choices in choosing long cardigans and coats to be part of their collection. To conclude, the abaya is no longer a garment to covers the woman's body, it is a statement piece.
As you saw how women are integrating the abaya into their lifestyle and styling it to suit their needs and to be efficient, the Abaya can soon enter the sports world, for example, it can be a loose jumpsuit that caters to the Muslim women who is into running.
Or it can have a detachable dress underneath to cater a socialites lifestyle by turning her day abaya into night one.