Dressing Paris in Dubai

22 Jun 2009
By Ahlanlive.com

How a green gown has turned the spotlight on an Emirati designer...

For her first press conference in Dubai on June 17, Paris Hilton was styled as never before. Photos of her Middle East-meets-Bollywood look have been all over, giving the Emirati designer of her lime green gown “an ultimate high" and instant glory.

“I just love this dress,” Paris has said. For Zahra Mohammed Karmostaji, the calls and compliments haven’t stopped.

The Dubai-based designer, who retails from Studio 8 boutique, is proud she is being able to “unveil the dark shroud of misconceptions surrounding our veiled canvas”, something that she set out to do.

Zahra shares the experience of dressing the world’s best-known socialite with us:

Paris Hilton wore an outfit designed by you at her first public appearance in the UAE. How does it feel?

It feels great that someone who is known for her refined taste wore my favourite jalabiya (Arabian gown). I knew that she was to select something from Studio 8 but it was an incredible feeling when I saw a picture of Paris that she took herself and posted on her Twitter page saying, “I love Middle Eastern culture and fashion, so beautiful!” This is an ultimate high because it’s not about my design but my culture.

Did you know she was going to wear your creation? Were you present at the press conference?

No, I didn’t know she was going to wear my creation because Sara and her team at Studio 8 gave her many options to select from; it wasn’t just me but there were creations from other designers too. So I guess I wasn’t invited to the press conference.

How did the gown designed by you get selected?

The jalabiya was displayed in Studio 8 and Paris’s fashion stylist was invited to select a gown for her first appearance from the store. The green gown I designed for the Miami Fashion Week was one of the dresses chosen for Paris.

What went into the making of this gown?

The gown is made of lime green chiffon and pure silk, with golden and green Swarovski crystals and hand embroidery. It has some handmade tassels of beads and crystals that I have designed myself.

The gown is one of the dresses I designed for the Miami Fashion Week which had a theme of Enchanted Princess 1001 Arabian Nights. Therefore, the design incorporates Arabic culture but is also modern at the same time.

What guidelines did you follow while designing it? What do you think made it work for Paris?

In all honesty I did not design this gown with anyone specifically in mind. When I designed this gown it was all about meshing traditions with trends. And I guess Paris Hilton with her understanding of global design picked up on the strong Middle Eastern elements.

The gown seems to have an Indian/Bollywood influence. Is that deliberate?

It’s not unusual that Dubai’s designers are influenced by the beauty of Bollywood. But this jalabiya was influenced by the story of Sherzade and the Enchanted Princess – straight out of Middle Eastern culture. I am glad to know that you see Bollywood influences in it.

Did you provide any accessories as well?

No, sadly I did not.

Have you sent across any more outfits for Paris? What are they?

I have sent a collection that includes jalabiyas and abayas (Arabian robes), which have a modern twist too. I wanted to give Paris an option to enjoy wearing our culture with a contemporary cut.

How have you grown as a designer?

I started out about seven years from home; a few years later I started a prêt abaya store at Abu Hail (in Dubai).

I had two dreams - one to create unique designs for the Emerging Emiratienne to embrace their individuality. Secondly, I wanted to become a representative of my country who would be able unveil the dark shroud of misconceptions surrounding our veiled canvas.

I feel I lived out these dreams partly when I started showing my collections on the ramps. First I won the ‘Creations Designer of the Year’ and then I won the Miami Fashion Week award for ‘Evening Wear Designer of the Year’. It helped me understand the market and get a focus towards what UAE expects from their local designers.

Photos:Paris Hilton wears the gown designed by Zahra Mohammed Karmostaji; a model on the ramp in the same gown; Zahra’s other creations, some of which have been sent across to Paris