Friday, June 26, 2009

Burqa is also 'chic' ..just like those revealing.......

So the French hate how we dress? Oh, the chic of it …

Hissa al Dhaheri

  • Last Updated: June 25. 2009 9:10PM UAE / June 25. 2009 5:10PM GMT

When the heat is sweltering outside your air-conditioned room, the desert is endless and an oasis is nowhere to be seen, that’s when the inner Arabia in you needs to soar out.

Wake up and indulge yourself with an intoxicating aromatic coffee, wear harem pants or throw on a kaftan. The gaiety of the layered material of those garments will allow the air to filter through your soul, encouraging you to rise beyond the dunes.

Culturally embellished garments are the new trend, and you don’t have to travel far to follow it. Depending on your budget you might find a piece that appeals anywhere from a street-corner store to a high-end luxury boutique at the mall. Those culturally inspired treasures have evolved through a long trip, from Arabia to the West and back again.

Harem pants, or women’s trousers with a dropped crotch and draped gatherings at the waist, create the illusion of a silhouette. We have seen their comeback on the couture catwalks of Milan, Paris and New York. They swept across the world after a famously chic French fashion magazine editor embraced them: first the streets of Paris, and now a world trend.

This fashion development is a milestone. Trousers for women did not become a fashion item until maybe the mid-20th century. Now we have trousers actually named after women, or at least how women were once referred to. Harem is a Turkish word derived from the Arabic haram, which means “forbidden”.

It became standard terminology only with the Ottoman Empire, although interestingly enough the Turks never called these trousers harem pants. They were called “sherwal” or “serwal”, and were actually worn by men in the Mediterranean: macho men, to be specific. But how can such a loose and unstructured item of clothing with the crotch dropped down to the knees be incorporated into the rational, structured lines of the western male wardrobe? The answer: feminise it. The crotch was dropped both literally and symbolically.

Kaftans, on the other hand, those beautiful, naturally flowing garments, are the ultimate laid-back feminine dress. The fashion industry might have got its inspiration from the traditional Moroccan women’s dress, or from our Gulf jalabiyas. This loose-fitting garment allows for an ease of movement seen as a necessity for both men and women. Although kaftans were adopted by the western fashion industry as a “feminine” piece, they were worn by men as well: indeed, in the Persian and Ottoman Empires, exclusively so.

The kaftan and the “serwal” pants are now widely available in the West, the former having been turned into a dress and the latter into harem pants. When the western fashion industry adopted these garments with a largely male cultural heritage, they became strictly feminine. So, is the only way for the West to adopt our culture by feminising it? Does that mean that the West does not want to adopt any masculine aspects of our culture, believing that the East is essentially feminine? What about other aspects of our “feminine” culture that the West is now rejecting: for example, the hijab and the burqa.

Could it be that they are rejected because those garments are too “feminine” to be adopted? Or is it because they do not accord with mainstream fashion in the West? Maybe one day they will be adopted as a fashion statement, just like the Palestinian keffiyeh – which used to be a symbol of resistance and is now a trendy item sold everywhere in the world.

Or is it because the hijab is too similar to the elegant headscarf so beloved of French women? Perhaps the French have got all confused that their “chic” symbol is not exclusive to them. They knot the scarf, et voila, instant sophistication; while we knot our scarves, et voila, instant submission. It seems France wants to recapture its national fashionista symbols and status. It is certainly losing them, as many quintessentially French brands are no longer truly French (Louis Vuitton’s creative director is the American Marc Jacobs, while the driving force behind Christian Dior – not to mention a Chevalier in the French Legion of Honour – is the British designer John Galliano). So I guess we shouldn’t be too harsh on the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, for wanting to be the “fashion police” on a national scale.

The fashion industry is certainly a most flamboyant and irrational one. What is “in” fashion, or what falls “out” never makes sense. Yet I can’t deny our addiction to this rollercoaster irrationality. We become vain and vanity becomes us.

Of course, I may have this all wrong, because politics is not my realm. And excuse my over-sensitivity, as I am a vain, irrational woman. I thought fashion, my only outlet for escapism, was immune to the business of cultural politics. But it seems otherwise, and I am mourning that.

Hissa al Dhaheri is a sociologist and cultural researcher, and holds an MA in Gulf Studies

Sheikh Mohammed joins Facebook

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid
Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai.


Status Hubungan:
Hari Jadi:
15hb Julai


2 album

Lihat Semua

My Family
Dikemaskini 14 jam yang lalu
Everyday Encounters
Dikemas kini pada hari Rabu

Mahmoud Habboush

* Last Updated: June 26. 2009 12:23AM UAE / June 25. 2009 8:23PM GMT

ABU DHABI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai – and now Facebook friend.

After snapping up one of the personalised web addresses the social networking site launched earlier this month – – the Ruler offers a rare personal look into his life.

Sheikh Mohammed has used the internet on several occasions to interact with the public, including fielding questions online. This year, journalists quizzed him on local and regional issues during an online forum.

“One’s experiences and personal history shape who they are,” he writes on his page. “And by sharing the lessons I have learnt during my lifetime I hope I can continue to have a positive effect on others, especially young people.”

And unlike, for instance, the US president Barack Obama, Sheikh Mohammed appears to be accepting friend requests.

Debbie Weil, a corporate social media consultant and author of The Corporate Blogging Book, said that high-profile people were reaching out more and more to the general public.

“Very public figures, celebrities, politicians are doing this for the same reason that everyone else is,” she said. “There is this pleasure in connecting, in putting something out there.”

In the page’s various sections, Sheikh Mohammed expounds on his beliefs, interests and even his reading list.

Politically, he says: “Contemporary challenges prompt us to think in innovative ways to achieve sustainable development.”

And in the section on religion, he describes a message of tolerance: “As a Muslim, I honour all religious traditions, and respect people regardless of their faith.”

Sheikh Mohammed also has a lengthy list of favourite activities, from poetry to athletics.

“I am passionate about sports, particularly endurance racing,” he writes. “I enjoy and love horse riding with my family members. I enjoy the outdoors, especially the Arabian desert experience.

“I often go to cultural gatherings. Writing Nabati (traditional Arabic poetry) has been a lifelong passion.”

His bookshelf includes works such as The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun, a 14th-century Arab polymath accredited with major contributions to political theory, sociology and historiography; the autobiographies of former US president Richard Nixon and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, as well as that of former French president Charles de Gaulle.

“I was brought up in a family that believed in the importance of visionary public service and philanthropy and I have tried to live these values in my everyday life,” he writes in the “About Me” section. He also cites family life as being immensely important.

One of his two photo albums, which comprises 11 images and was uploaded only yesterday, features moments with his family. The first picture is captioned: “Celebrating with my children after a victory in an endurance race in the UK.” Another: “My angels, daughters Salamah and Shamma.”

Ms Weil, who spoke at a social media conference in Dubai in December, said sites like Facebook allow public figures to tap into a welcoming community and easily manage any negative feedback.

“Clearly he is a very engaging, people-orientated kind of guy,” she said. “Being on Facebook seems like a perfect fit with his personal brand.”