Sunday, October 24, 2010
I've been busy finishing up a collection of abayas! I had the idea to make them out of cotton fabric which is much more comfortable to wear in a very hot and humid climate. Abayas are generally manufactured in synthetic fabrics as they are less likely to wrinkle and perhaps have some cost savings as well. However, the effect on the body of being encased in 100% polyester in 120 degree Fahrenheit and 95% humidity weather is almost unbearable! Especially because the synthetic fibers do not allow for easy air flow; this results in the wearer's body heat essentially being trapped and thus accelerates the increase of body temperature for the wearer. To add to the “sauna effect” the abayas sold in countries like Saudi Arabia are almost exclusively available in black.
In other areas of the world abayas come in various colors, silhouettes and designs. As long as the abaya accomplishes it's purpose (to ensure that a woman's body is covered and that her figure can not be easily recognized) one still has plenty of options in regards to fashion design. Recently, in the strict country of Saudi Arabia, variants of the abaya in color and shape are beginning to emerge. Abayas in colors such as dark chocolate brown and deep navy blue have been spotted around the more liberal cities of the country. Fashion forward young women have chosen to wear abayas in different silhouettes such as belted and even gaucho pant styles. However the women who dare to venture out in public wearing these different colors and styles are still very much a minority group. Black colored and extremely loose cut abayas are the accepted (and perhaps expected) style worn by the majority of women in Saudi Arabia.
So I decided in my line of cotton abayas, for Saudi residents, to maintain a black base in the color palette. However, I had to add splashes of color here and there on individual designs, throughout the collection. But I was careful in the placement of those colors on the abayas. To stay conservative I've kept them in a very full loose cut. To lessen the burden of having to iron the abayas I intentionally used a crinkled cotton fabric. I hope my customers are pleased with the line! If anything I know they will be happy to wear cotton in such an unforgiving climate. It has been an enjoyable design project for myself and depending on the reaction from customers, perhaps I will find myself doing more abaya designs.