DUBAI // One of the UAE’s most well-known designers, Lamya Abedin, wants to make the abaya an essential fixture in every woman’s wardrobe – not just in the Arab world, but around the globe.
The founder of the couture line the Queen of Spades already sells her clothes in South Africa, her first venture outside the GCC.
The popularity of her designs comes from the abaya doubling as a trendy jacket, wrap or trench coat when worn overseas.
“What I try to do is make everyone think this is not just for the UAE or the GCC, this can become a staple in anyone’s wardrobe,” said the mother-of-three whose clothes also sell in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“Every lady has that black dress she is so attached to, a pair of jeans, high heels, flats that you must have. I’m trying to do the same with the abaya. Regardless of your nationality or religion it can become a robe, a kimono, a coat, a wrap around, it has so many names.”
Customers from France, Switzerland, America, India, Brunei and Turkey have visited her website to purchase one-of-a-kind pieces sometimes inspired by the Japanese kimono or the Malaysian batik interwoven with vibrant colours.
Living for more than a decade in countries across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia with her husband exposed the self-taught designer to local weaves which she incorporates into her design.
“I would dig for traditional outfits, something specific to that culture,” the Emirati said. “I always made it a point to see a wedding because there you find traditions. I’m influenced by African, Arabic heritage; like computer back-up these were saved in my mind.”
Lamya began designing for herself while living in Saudi Arabia and then created garments for relatives and friends. Her first taste of selling her creations came five years ago when she was invited to sell alongside international brands at the Galeries Lafayette in Dubai Mall. Her business has since expanded to bridal wear, dresses and a collection for young girls.
Charity is also important, with part of the sale proceeds going to social groups. She recently donated more than 20 abayas to a charity fashion event “Designs of Hope”.
All funds went to the UAE Water Aid initiative this year and the previous year’s proceeds were donated to Dubai’s Al Noor Centre.
“She was the first designer who supported us when we came up with the idea of designers donating a minimum of 20 abayas for a cause,” said Lamia Khan, director of the Dubai Ladies Club. “Without me asking, she sent another set of abayas when hers sold out.”
Contributing to Al Noor Training Centre in Dubai is also significant because Lamya’s 18-year-old brother has Downs syndrome.
“Children with special needs can be a blessing because they give such love and joy,” she said.
“My mother put so much effort into Abdullah that he has blended amazingly. He plays football, sails, rides and if he meets you, Abdullah will greet you like any gentleman would. I like to help in making other special needs children as fortunate as my brother was.”
She encourages her children to donate and watches as they sort out books and clothes packages for various charities.
“Ramadan is a month that reminds us to do good,” she said. “But all through the year we can think how can we help society.”
Blending fabric from wool, leather, cotton, linen and silk adds to the exclusivity of her line.
“If abayas are meant to be completely black, then you will see me doing the opposite,” says the designer who infuses shades of mustard, navy blue and brown into her creations.
“A large number of women love to wear the modern abaya that looks like a coat. So it needs to keep them warm in winter and they want something light in summer. It’s important to introduce new shapes and textiles so that a piece doesn’t die in the wardrobe.”