Emirati designer Amal Murad launched her first full abaya collection in 2005 under the Redaa brand name.
How long have you been designing?
Since I was very young. I used to ask my mum to get me anything left over from the tailor so I could make dresses for my dolls. Before I turned 15, I made a dress for my sister. I showed my mother the design and she liked it – she took me to the tailor and I explained it to him. Together, we made my first dress. After that my mum gave me the chance to make her something. That’s how it started: me designing things for family and friends.
Which designers inspired you while you were growing up?
In the ’80s, Yves Saint Laurent was the top designer. I was influenced a lot by his mixing of colours and style.
Most people think of abayas as pretty standard, but yours have so much variety. How have styles changed recently?
In the past, there was a classical cut. In the ’90s, it was A-line with a straight sleeve. Before that, women used to wear abayas over their head. I’d say after 2005, the abaya changed a lot. More colour started to be added, maybe in the sleeves, but that was it. Now there is a lot more variety.
It seems as though you’ve really broken the mould.
My message is that you can still wear the abaya and preserve your identity, but you can do it while being up to date and trendy.
This year, you showed at Dubai Fashion Week and Rome Fashion Week. What was the difference?
In the West, people are more appreciative of my designs. They ask me about every single detail. I like presenting my culture to the West. It gives them the opportunity to learn more about it.
How is your brand evolving?
There is an evolution with abayas and Islamic wear in general, not just with my designs. There is now a bigger market, and it’s expanding. I have buyers from Paris and London; they want my brand in their shops. I’m very picky, though. I’m starting to position myself as a high-end brand.
Amal Murad, Al Zarooni Business Centre (04 399 0092)