Dubai has a rich and long cultural heritage that dates back at least to the 3rd century, as evidenced by pre-Islamic ceramics found in the region. The first recorded mention of Dubai appeared in 1095, in the Book of Geography by Andalusian-Arab geographer Abu Abdullah al-Bakrithe. When Gaspero Balbi visited from Venice in 1580, the pearl merchant gave special mention to Dubai. And the origins of the name are equally colorful. One theory suggests it means money, as per the Arabic proverb Daba Dubai ("They came with a lot of money.") Alternatively, Daba could either refer to the slow-movement of the Dubai creek inland or perhaps baby locust, referencing the abundance of these critters in the area prior to settlement. However, no one knows for sure, so it's basically a delicious mystery!
And yet, people have notoriously short memories fueld by unfortunate stereotypes. "Sometimes people fall into the trap of thinking of Middle Eastern design as something generic, instead of UAE design in particular, observes Khulood Thani, the first United Arab Emirates national to study Fashion Management and Marketing at the prestigious ESMOD Paris. After attending courses at the prestigious London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins College in London, the Dubai native began designing accessories and bags. In 2011, she launched her line, Bint Thani, with its fabulous take on the turban.
She also created Between the Dunes, a project inspired by the local landscape and funneled through a "rough contemporary approach" consisting of laser-cutting and biodegradable camel leather. "For me, this went beyond a fashion piece," she notes about the resulting "semi-couture" frock (below). "The Middle East contains so many countries and so many cultures; each is different, unique and independent. It was communicating my own culture."
The way Thani is dedicated to communicating and shaping cultural expression is a signature of the Folkspun fashion tribe*, a pack of ninjas that remember what needs to be remembered and find a way to push it forward. For more of my posts about this fashion tribe, CLICK HERE. *NOTE: To learn more about all the fashion tribes I study and write about, START HERE.
Podcast music: Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
- Lesley Scott