On a mission to make his Decades boutique “the United Nations of fashion,” Cameron Silver welcomed Saudi designer Nora Al Shaikh and her fall 2014 “Futurista” collection to L.A. last Friday afternoon with a tea party at the store.
“It’s interesting to see a Saudi Arabian designer doing very futuristic and international-looking clothing,” said Silver, who met Al Shaikh in 2013 during Paris Couture. “This is a burgeoning community and Nora is one of the first to break through.”
The collection is wonderfully bold and sci-fi modern with architectural-looking tunics and tops made from duchesse satin interwoven with translucent black, pink, purple and blue yarns, to be worn over jeans, leggings or with corresponding skirts. The styles, many of which are cut into shard-like points, fit together like puzzle pieces. There are also several sculpted gowns that would work well for an adventurous star on the red carpet, Zoe Saldana, perhaps. Prices range from $1,066 for a top to $2,900 for an evening dress.
Silver was dressed in a gray robe from another Saudi designer, Toby by Hatem Alakeel. Meanwhile, Al Shaikh, who is on vacation in L.A. with her family through the end of the month, eschewed the traditional Middle Eastern abaya for jeans and one of her own tops.
Since religious practice prohibits Saudi women from being photographed publically, there were no images of the designer’s face taken at the event, or any event for that matter, which poses an interesting challenge when trying to market a new fashion brand internationally. The clothes must stand on their own, and they did.
Al Shaikh, who launched her collection in 2012, said she is inspired by architecture, particularly King Fahd National Library and the Kingdom Centre in Riyadh. While in town, she’s looking forward to checking out some of what downtown L.A. has to offer too.
Silver’s co-hosted the event with HRH Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, the CEO of Saudi Arabian luxury retailer Alfa International, and the subject of an interesting profile in Fast Company about the moves she’s making toward women’s empowerment by expanding retail job opportunities at Riyadh’s Harvey Nichols department store.
Bandar Al Saud, who lives in Riyadh but keeps an apartment in L.A., is a big booster of Al Shaikh’s aesthetic vision.
“She’s not designing to a stereotype,” said Bandar Al Saud, who was raised in the U.S. “People think we’re all about caftans, but that’s actually Morocco. I get it though. The onus is on us to explain our style. It’s time to go out and tell the story that within the fashion vocabulary of the Middle East we go from caftans to avant garde. That’s what’s exciting about Nora. She’s the new face of the Middle East.”
The Nora Al Shaikh collection will be at Decades through the end of August, 8214 Melrose Ave., L.A., (323) 655-1960, decadesinc.com.
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