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A Bedouin in Dubai.

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Dubai fashion week is big news for the city's social calendar, and this year's installment was no exception.A There was much noise made on the catwalk last week, where 16 designers saw their designs strutted up and down the Godolphin Ballroom at the Emirates Towers.

Whispers backstage at DFW, now in its fourth year, spoke of a small case of growing pains as the event tried to find solid ground to tread. But despite the rumoured disorganisation, there was tremendous talent on display, and a few standout shows. Perhaps one of the most eye-catching was Asudari - the labour of love of London-based Saudi designer Lamia Asudari. She showed her fourth collection and marked her DFW debut, as well as the first time her clothes have ever been shown on a runway in the region.

"We showed the autumn winter 08 collection which is called 'Ink Tent'," Asudari tells 7DAYS.A "The inspiration behind the show was a Bedouin woman stuck in Paris during the 1920s. I wanted to combine the originality of the Art Deco period with the mysterious Bedouin heritage, " Asudari says.

These elements were represented on the runway, with Bedouin silhouettes and prints that were exaggerated and blown up, with a bit of bling, some Swarovski crystals and a whole lot of innovative tailoring.A "My inspirations and influences are very personal and depend on my mood.A We showed this collection for the first time in Paris and so it was literally about a 'Bedouin in Paris'," Asudari adds.A Judging from this collection, being Saudi and having a Bedouin heritage is something that heavily informs her work, but does not necessarily define it.

"I don't design with a particular woman in mind - not specifically Arab or Western. It's a fine line to walk because I don't want to be defined as an Arab designer or a London designer and have to fit into that specific stereotype," she says. When it comes to the clothes, they are far from typical with 36 looks that run the whole gamut from casual and daywear to more red-carpet worthy evening gowns.

"I'm still challenging myself when it comes to evening wear, because I find it hard to find something that doesn't make women look like a little doll all dressed up. To make a woman look elegant and sexy at the same time is not an easy thing," says Asudari.A "I approach designing based on what I would want to wear. I'm short and don't have anything near a model's figure so everything I design needs to look good on the fitting model but also on me. That's when I know I have a winner. Getting the right measurements is one of the hardest thingsA for a design house and I feel confident that I got it right with this collection."

The strength of her designs may be the jackets, which incidentally are Asudari's favourite garment to design. And from the perspective of the customer, the collection stands out as a wearable one simply because it relies heavily on separates. "I want my clothes to be something that you can individualise and make your own, which is why I design a lot of separates that can be mixed and matched with your existing wardrobe. Asudari is about adapting the separates to look like you.

"In addition to the collection however, I do design abayas and in that case, of course I'm designing for Middle Eastern women."A The abayas, which were not shown during the runway show can be viewed on her web site, and they are nothing if not a refreshing take on the traditional black garment.

From a belted trench-coat version to a highly constructed bodice style to a more billowy, voluminous shapes, the abayas are indicative of the kind of fashion pedigree and specific influences that Asudari has under her belt. While she was studying at Central Saint Martins, she spent eighteen months working at Alexander McQueen, where she leaned how to apply designs, embroidery, pattern cutting and somewhere along the way, picked up the skills she would need to run her own fashion design house. And so it was, Asudari was born.

"Although I have not lived in Saudi Arabia for any long period of time, of course, I do go back often to visit my family and that always serves as inspiration. I've also held trunk shows in Riyadh and the collection has been received well." As for how her designs fared in Dubai, Asudari is a little more cautious.

"As my first runway collection, it is not quite like I envisioned it," she says.

"Because of my background, I know exactly what kind of visual message I want to send out onto the runway - something very theatrical. I couldn't do that here. Nevertheless, I was very happy to show in Dubai because it's about coming back to the region and waiting to see what kind of reaction I get."

To see the collection or contact the designer visit

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Mar 25, 2008
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