Burberry and the Burka: Hints to tweak this Fall's fashion for the Arab street

Published September 18th, 2013 - 14:59 GMT

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fashion fall
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Image 1 of 10: High neckline? check. Long sleeves? check. Covered legs? check. Excellent use of ‘genuine’ leather? check. Now you can show the family that fashion CAN equal Muslim! No culture clash here! (Image courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar)

fashion fall black is back
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Image 1 of 10: In this suspicious sector of the world, if you go too far with the black, you might get accused of working for the CIA, but somehow, some way, (not just via the veils and abayas, ladies), you must still incorporate the ‘evergreen’ “in” color of black. (Image courtesy of HB)

fashion fall plaid
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Image 1 of 10: Covered in classic ‘checker’...this is one fashionable outfit your grandma might just let you walk into the mosque wearing, and its use of the currently chic classic plaid pattern will keep your sense of style in check and your fashion hunger locked away for another season! (Image courtesy of HB)

fashion fall fur
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Image 1 of 10: Thank goodness PETA’s not big in the Middle East yet because furs are back! What a fashionable way to keep warm, too, on those cold desert winter nights! Brrrrrr! Now pass me that ‘sahlab’ (popular Mideastern hot, creamy drink)! (Image courtesy of HB)

fashion fall military rags
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Image 1 of 10: You’re in the army now! Unless you're planning to join the IDF, you’d be hard pressed to pull off the military look in this part of the world (though the Jordanian police chicks have got it going on). But at least this khaki number covers all the bases needed to keep you in like Flynn with the conservative crew. (Image courtesy of Real Beauty)

fashion fall nails
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Image 1 of 10: Nailing it! For those whose trendy tastes are hidden by the hijab, one way to show any latent fashion sense is by sporting this fall's coolest nail colors. Try “deep near-purple navy” or sheer shades and go the salon route where at least in the Middle East, it’s one fashion fix that won’t break the balance either! (Image courtesy of HB)

fashion fall girl-boy clothes cross dressing
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Image 1 of 10: Is androgynous à la mode? Gender-bending in the straight-laced ME might literally go down a storm... While mixing masculine and feminine looks is certainly digged by designers right now, you may want to keep that kind of dilly-dallying reigned in. Here’s a look that shows how to balance the line, not cross it! (Image courtesy of Vogue)

fashion fall emerald green
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Image 1 of 10: Emerald green is IN: This season’s hottest or coolest (whichever side of the Autumn fence you're sitting on) color can be sported any time, any where! A fabulous splash of color to lift an otherwise all-black abaya outfit may be just what the fashion doctor ordered. (Image courtesy of Vogue)

fashion fall hats
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Image 1 of 10: Although it might not fit on top of your hijab, if you don’t cover your hair why not try a hat this winter? A top hat, beanie, fedora, or something fun and fuzzy is a fashion must and will also be a little nod to the halal harem. (Image Getty Images)

fashion fall large coats
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Image 1 of 10: Islam is two steps ahead of this latest trend - oversized coats may be in this season, but Muslim ladies have been rocking the jilbab for decades as it smartly keeps any womanly curves under wraps from prying eyes. En vogue and ‘en’ Muslim, this is one look that works on and off the runway. (Courtesy of E! Online)

Syria is SO last season - we like our military on the catwalk, not in the form of airstrikes.

Forget politics - it's in the Middle Eastern fashion world where things get really heated and frought, knotted and browed! Delving into the latest looks in designer wardrobes, how can our racy region actually rock the season’s must-haves in the Middle East where modest equals hottest?

Many hot, young and trendy rich Arabs are self-confessed fashion freaks. You wouldn’t enter their homes without spying a copy of Vogue, Elle or Cosmopolitan lying on their Hermès table or Versace sofa.

Think Louis Vuitton, think Dior, think Chanel, think FASHION! The latest trends are polka-dotted around the Middle East and with all that loose Gulfi change lying about, the region is well represented in fashion weeks all over the world.

The fashion cafe is no stranger to Arab designers - Lebanese artistes Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad (masters of the formal dress) have dominated the red carpet and are favorites of A list celebs such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift and the queen of twerking, Miley Cyrus. Any Arab should be proud to have a piece of that wrecking ball!

Despite the Arab passion for staying a la mode from wardrobe to salon, it's perhaps ironic that not all of the hot trends can culturally translate onto the streets of the Middle East. What’s for Miley isn’t for the Middle East’s fashion aficionados...Between all the leather, chains and skin on show, the majority of the wacky looks sported on the runway would earn you some filthy looks in return.

Looking at the Beirut high-street, you’d never know that “culturally-appropriate” is a thing. But don’t be deceived by those scandalous Beirutis - they push the boat when it comes to clothing and what goes in the corniche is not okay elsewhere in the Levant. Having to cover up and adhere to cultural norms doesn’t mean the interest in fashion has to fade alongside your dreams of donning a slinky LBD. The number of Arab female fashion bloggers and designers has seen unprecedented growth in the last few years - the spread of globalisation also means the spread of Gucci. With Iran, famous for its Islamic conservatism, having a stylistic 'second coming', the bounds of newfangled fashion seem to have no limits in the Middle East.

The dominance of Islam in the Middle East and the Quran's guidelines on how women should dress modestly don't always go hand in hand with what's being strutted on the Paris catwalk. Perhaps ultimately making the more creative in their search for their own style, Arab fashionistas can't simply slip on what's on the hanger - they have to keep in mind what’s culturally-appropriate for the sensitive and sometimes scathing masses. Sporting those daisy dukes and cowboy boots might be the summer’s hottest trend, but if you’re in Amman or even Dubai then you’d be advised to only go as far as staring at them in that copy of Harper’s Bazaar.

Keep it Arab street

In honor of London and New York Fashion weeks, we've compiled a handy guide of this season's latest trends and will break down which ones work and which ones don't (what’s hot and what’s not) in the tricky fashion climate of the Middle East.

So forget converting religions, we're all about converting this season's Fall fashions into appropriate Arab attire. From the catwalk through the corniche and into Cairo's cafes, here's what you can wear in the Middle East without getting cast out for going too far out! Without further ado, sneak a peak at our 2013 seasonal style guide and learn how to translate the most avant garde looks into acceptable Araby street style.

 

 

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