It’s been a stellar year for young Qatar designer Rabab Abdulla. Her collection of fashion forward women’s wear, Timeless Blend, won her not just uni accolades as her graduate show for Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar but also the W Doha Fashion Award, a plum opportunity for an upcoming designer to work with the trendy five-star hotel for a year to showcase their designs. Rabab’s since presented Timeless Blend at New York Fashion Week as well as in Doha, worked with celeb couture designer L’Wren Scott at Qatar’s Fashion Exchange show in December, and recently launched her latest collection, Luster, a range of luxury party wear inspired by the glam decors of the W Doha. We caught up with Rabab to chat about her collections and what she’s up to next.
Pic: Angel Mallari, www.thescenestealer.com
Tell us about your new collection Luster. What was your inspiration?
My focus is on comfortable, wearable designs that show individuality and uniqueness. So, for the latest collection, Luster, I was inspired by W Doha’s interiors, which are themselves inspired by pearls. If you’ve been to the hotel, you can see this in some of the patterns on the walls and the colours used inside, as well as the use of a lot of sheer fabric.
The softness and delicacy of the fabrics – silk chiffon, sand-washed silk and cotton laced fabric – was to reflect that sense of delicacy of a pearl. The colour palette is also inspired by pearls – white, beige, grey and gold – and the flaring reflects the flared silhouette of a pearl shell.
Because the fabrics are so elegant, these clothes are really for parties or events. There’s dresses and separates like skirts, tops and pants.
What are your three wardrobe essentials?
I like layering. I have a lot of loose pants, which I bought during trips to Thailand, Korea and Indonesia. I also wear traditional clothes from India, like the anarkali [a long dress-style tunic worn over pants] and of course, my abaya.
What’s the strangest item in your wardrobe?
It’s a top I bought from Thailand. It’s not weird but the work is so intricate, it’s hand-woven and you couldn’t find anything like it in Qatar. It’s one of the best pieces I own.
What’s your top style tip for looking slimmer?
I wear belts a lot, which is one way to make you look slimmer. My abayas are loose but the belt gives a little more idea about the shape of the body. Skinny ones are good, but of course it depends on the outfit.
What cosmetics do you always carry in your handbag?
Lip gloss, eyeliner and mascara. Those are the main things I always have with me.
What are your fave boutiques in Doha?
I like the shops at the Pearl – they’re great even for just window-shopping. It’s a good place to see new designs.
What are your next plans career-wise?
I was really busy straight after I won the W Award last year – in June I showed Timeless Blend at the W and then in September, I went to the US to show the same collection as part of New York Fashion Week, after being invited there by Virginia Commonwealth University in the US [the main campus of the university Rabab attended in Doha].
At the end of the year, I worked on my new collection as well as with L’Wren Scott on her showcase for Fashion Exchange in Doha. The work for Fashion Exchange involved unpacking all the clothes on display, placing them on mannequins and deciding which [L’Wren Scott] gown looked best with which hat [by milliner Stephen Jones]. The clothes were really delicate and you could see how much work went into them.
I’m now working with the W on a showcase for Luster in another country, at another W hotel. We’re not sure at the moment where it will be as we’re still looking into it.
Apart from that, I am looking to do more work in both interiors and fashion [Rabab did a double degree in both subjects].
Click through our gallery at the top of the story to see more of Rabab's designs.