This three-day exhibition at Grand Hyatt Muscat is for the lovers of authenticity who want to feel special and get things customised and personalised. It is also meant for those designers who can let the world know how they get to the final product.
It is true when people say that with time, old habits, trends, and ways make their way into the present. Phrases such as “Old is gold”, “Back to basics”, and “Reviving the past” stand true at this point across all fields. But one industry that is tremendously affected by this phenomenon is the fashion industry, where all the old trends including polka dots, bell-bottoms, and vibrant colours are all coming back and with a loud bang.
While technology has made life convenient and in many ways appealing and attractive, to get the authenticity and aesthetics right, you need human involvement. That’s probably why the word “handmade” has been a very popularly searched term on Google. While handmade doesn’t necessarily have to mean that the whole item has been made by hand from scratch, it still needs to have elements that are specialised and individualised by a pair of skilled hands.
From computerised hi-tech designs, which were thought to be cool, we have reached a stage where designers are using terms such as craftsmanship, artisanship, hand-printed and handmade to gain a competitive advantage over the other brands in the market. Keeping in line with this trend that is taking the world by storm, “Handmade For Ramadan” is being brought to Oman for all those authenticity lovers who want to feel special and get things customised and personalised, and for those designers who can showcase not just their final products but also let the world know how they get to the final product.
The brainchild of Ahmed Farid and Sheikha Sarah Ahmed Farid Al Aulaqi who own and run Qansar Couture, which is a store where every piece of clothing is real, given a lot of time, thought, and is handmade, their aim is to bring together people who appreciate handicrafts and fashion and arts during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
“It is nice to have that preference because something handmade feels like it is tailored to you. I think everybody likes something that is personalised. My mom’s brand is about that. It is focused on embroidery and it feels special to know that it was made for me and I was a part of the making process. It takes years of training and there are so many different aspects to it. There’s threading, beading, the effects that one wants from it,” said Sheikha Sarah.
The different products that will be showcased include the usual jalabiyas, abayas, handbags, etc. “Organisations such as the Omani Heritage Association who try to keep our culture and tradition alive will also be there. This is important because I feel that to move into the future successfully, we need to learn and take elements from the past,” she explained.
There are a number of talented designers who will be participating in this one-of-a-kind event, grabbing the opportunity to promote their talent and handwork that results in creating sheer art. “People have been taking old traditional outfits and fusing them with contemporary patterns and designs. For example, there is an Emirati girl who uses solar powered abayas to charge her phone. There is a designer who only uses camel hide to make different products including clothing, bags, shoes, etc,” said Sheikha Sarah.
There are people who work with intricate embroidery, some who make intricate designs using their hands but print them out on computers, and various other hardworking women and men attending the three-day event.
However, the most delightful part about this is that it gives people a peak into all the behind-the-scenes action. While some designers will bring their tailors along to show people how it’s done, there will also be a whole dress made live during the event. “During the three-day event, our dressmaker will be ‘hand making’ a dress live, which will be auctioned at the closing of the exhibition on June 2 at 10pm,” she said.
People from different GCC countries will be participating in the event. Although all countries are in the same region, the fashion in each of these places varies hugely. “I think Kuwaitis are bolder and a lot more colourful and always looking for something new. With the UAE and Qatar, they are a lot safer and calmer. Saudis are very classy and simple. Oman is finding its way. But I’m just glad that people are accepting the evolution of abayas.”
Speaking of western labels and brands creating branded abayas that have been doing the rounds lately, Sheikha Sarah said, “I think those designers are being smart and know where the money is. They are catering to our needs but we know what we want better than the international brands. So, we need to take things in our hands. In that way, they are making it theirs when it’s not. And we need to evolve it at our pace”.
The opening ceremony of the event is on May 31 and will be attended by Her Highness Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassemi, along with Ahmed Farid and Sheikha Sarah. “I hope people see and appreciate this event for its uniqueness and use it as a platform to showcase their talent and products,” she concluded.