Religious cover-up goes catwalk crazy with million dollar diamond abaya

Published March 22nd, 2013 - 05:00 GMT
The red diamond abaya cost a cool $17 million.
The red diamond abaya cost a cool $17 million.

The red diamond is so rare that most jewellers will never come across one. Just one in every one hundred million diamonds shines a natural red colour.

A priceless gem if ever there was and one is to be unveiled in Dubai on Wednesday evening at 5pm on a creation is billed as the world’s most expensive piece of clothing.

A red diamond abaya rocking in at £11.7 million (US$17.7 million). It was after returning to England from Dubai last year while showcasing the world’s most expensive black diamond dress (£3.5 million, US$5.3 million) that an idea “sowed its seed” in the head of designer to the stars Debbie Wingham.

A client from a family that has “a vast diamond collection” had casually mentioned how nice an uber-rare red diamond would look on Wingham’s sparkling creation.

“I was thinking ‘well it’s too late now my love’,” she says. But the seed grew. Her inspiration for the abaya came from witnessing women wear it in Dubai and the gown’s “graceful silhouette, it’s fluidity and its movement”. The traditional dress for UAE women is an item of clothing she finds “very chic”.

The piece de resistance to be revealed at the Raffles Hotel in Dubai tonight will also be bedecked with black diamonds - her signature stone - and white diamonds. The abaya features more than 200,000 painstakingly handstitched threads in 14 carat white gold and is embellished with an intricate flower pattern.

Wingham’s designed for everyone from Oscar winners Kate Winslet and Hilary Swank to burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese. But she sees a market for her creations here and across the Middle East - a further collection of 45 abayas will also be revealed this evening.

So much so, that Wingham plans to move work and family to Dubai for “at least six months” of the year, to draw upon the real “creative influence” she gains from the city. Wingham’s not all what you’d expect from someone whose creations come with the very Dubai-like tag of ‘most expensive’.

She designs for “women, not catwalks”, and in Yorkshire twangs made husky by the cold she’s carrying from the British winter, she says Milan and Paris, are just “terribly catty”.

“There’s just no need for it,” she insists. “Everyone gets on here and has their own vision - and that’s the way it should be.” The emirate-inspired red diamond abaya will be on display in Dubai at the Raffles Hotel until March 25.

The abaya however, will only be on display - it will not be sold. “I do need to give the diamond back unfortunately,” she says.


What do you think about a religious cover-up being turned into a glitzy catwalk dress? Share your thoughts with us below.

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