A feminist voice in Arab fashion
UAE-based fashion designer and businesswoman Tamara Al Gabbani’s work couldn’t be farther from black outfits and face-covering veils. Her modern, elegant style has won over customers in the four corners of the world.
São Paulo – The fashion world is the world of Tamara Al Gabbani. She was born in Los Angeles, raised in Dubai, and graduated in London. Her first public appearance was as a TV show host, interviewing the likes of George Clooney and Paulo Coelho. Then she launched her own brand, and now she uses her work and her fame to champion female empowerment.
During a visit to Brazil as a guest of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Al Gabbani talked to ANBA and said that despite the numerous activities she engaged in, and still does, she defines herself as a businesswoman.
“I see myself as a businesswoman. I like being creative, I’m good at it. But the main thing about me is I am a businesswoman, because I have figured out a way to do what I love and turn it into a business,” she asserted.
Al Gabbani became famous by chance. After graduating in Finance in the United Kingdom, she returned to Dubai to look for a job. One day, her best friend had a test to become a TV presenter but couldn’t attend, so she asked Al Gabbani to go instead. She got the job and never left the spotlight again.
Her clothing brand came as a means for expressing what she calls her “natural talent.” “Everyone has natural gifts and talents, and for me, fashion is one of them, so it comes naturally. I don’t think that you necessarily have to study. I think it helps a lot, but I didn’t need it, I had this talent, this gift. I was able to design a collection in a very natural way, and it was very successful. I am very proud of it,” she said.
The designer named her first collection ‘Goddess.’ For her, the word translates her brand’s identity. “It is the brand’s philosophy that all women are goddesses. I believe women are God’s most beautiful creation. We are beautiful, strong, graceful, and feminine, and we give life, which is a divine attribute. So I created this collection as a tribute to women, a pedestal for them to be placed on,” she explained.
Questioned whether she represents a new generation of women in the Arab world, Al Gabbani said she sees a new generation of women in her region who are turning to education and to the opportunities that are coming their way. She also lauded the UAE’s women-oriented policies.
“For instance, in Dubai, we have sheikh Mohammed [Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai] who really supports the women’s empowerment movement. And I feel that women are changing. We are very different from our parents’ generation, and the fashion choices reflect that too,” she pointed out.
Indeed, her fashion designs have appealed to the tastes of women of all ages and parts of the world. “When I put out my first collection, it focused on the luxury market, but as my brand evolved I realized I had customers all over Europe, Australia, and of course the Gulf, but I never thought I would leave, branch out of the Gulf. I even have customers in the United States, from teens to women in their fifties,” she said.
By looking at Al Gabbani’s colorful, cleavage-heavy dresses, one would think they’re the type of fashion that appeals to western women, but she explains that they sell the most in Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar.
It takes her up to six months to design a collection, and she also creates bespoke collections on demand. “Many of my clients want a collection of their own, and I can design one of those in just a few days. It all depends on how much time I have, but I always figure out a way to make it happen,” she said. And where does she take her inspiration from? “Beauty and inspiration are everywhere; all you have to do is look. My main source of inspiration is women, the beauty of women, the power of women,” she said.
At age 35, this is Al Gabbani’s first time in South America. She said she’s very happy to be in Brazil, and praised the local fashion. “As far as I could tell, fashion in Brazil is the representation of the Brazilian people: colorful, joyous, warm, and very feminine,” she claimed.
You can check out her designs at www.tamaraalgabbani.com
*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum