From Khûs, the hammered silver thread that creates glimmering patterns in net fabric, to the vividly coloured bridal thawb’s, Emirati dress has a rich history. In an exhibition currently on show at Robinson’s in Dubai Festival City, Dr Reem El Mutwalli opens up her private collection to the public to show the sheer variety of UAE women’s fashion
My first Thawb was a gift from Shaikha Shama bint Rashid bin Khalaf Al Otayba, wife of Shaikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative of the Eastern Region of the United Arab Emirates, to my mother upon my parent's arrival to the UAE. When my belated father Dr Tariq el Mutwalli was appointed by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan to act as the economic consultant to the then Crown Prince Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan.
The importance of this dress is many folds, the date and provenance on the one hand and the fact that it is embellished in real silver. I was but a child then; I watched my mother's appreciation to those gowns with all their primitive simplistic lines. You could say that my mother's passion transcended from her to me as I grew up appreciating these gowns and eventually began wearing, designing and collecting them.
These gowns do not represent just fabric and embroidery work. Every gown tells a unique story and holds a special memory. Each one captures a certain capsule in time that is very unique and has passed. They are keepers of the past for the generations of the future ..
To be true to my passion, my educational background and most of all to the traditions I helped preserve, every dress I designed was inspired by certain traditional factor. Sometimes it can be the color, others the style of embroidery, or the particular unique tailoring aspects.
Visitors should take a look at the last Thawb example on display at the exhibition. It is the pink Thawb with intricate and highly stylized diamond shapes of appliqué work. The work is exquisite and truly refined. This is an excellent example of what I would call a contemporary expression of its earlier Miyaza' form, with simple basic horizontal stripes, also displayed at exhibition.