The Emirati artist and entrepreneur makes the case for an audacious mix of colorful abayas and jewels.
“Confident, bright, and bold,” is what comes to mind when describing Fatma Al Mulla’s personal style. After all, you can instantly spot the visual artist and founder of Dubai-based lifestyle label FMM in a sea of black abayas. “I gravitate towards bright colors,” she agrees. She’s not one to shy away from a yellow abaya with matching shayla, paired with a handbag in rainbow stripes, or elevating a turquoise cloak with a Balenciaga tote and Marni heels. “My abayas are very bold, and people do stare,” smiles Al Mulla, who resists uniformity. “I’m not doing this to disrespect my culture or my religion – my approach to fashion is on the conservative side. But I also respect individuality and I admire people who have their own sense of style.” The designer looks to Iris Apfel and Anna Dello Russo for inspiration. “Confidence is key. You can never be overdressed or over-accessorized.”
Originally printed in the October 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia
Al Mulla styles her looks with custom-made fine jewelry pieces. “I like wearing bracelets and I have beautiful earrings, but big rings are special,” she says. The designer complements a blue abaya with a fire opal ring, while a red overlay is emphasized with an eye-catching ruby. Her green abaya gets extra wattage with the help of an emerald set. “I have an emerald ring with matching earrings that my grandmother passed down to my mother. I love wearing it because it makes a bold statement,” she shares. “Jewelry is important because it makes me feel more feminine.” She completes her green ensemble with a pair of Manolo Blahnik jewel-buckle pumps in the same hue.
Al Mulla rewards herself for her personal accomplishments with jewelry. “I recognize the big things in my life. Every year I save to give myself a piece that’s completely for me and from me. When I look down at my wrist, it’s like an achievement,” she says of one of her pieces – a diamond pavé Cartier Love bracelet. Her latest purchase was a Tiffany & Co. T square bracelet following her collaboration with Kiehl’s. She designed two boxes that were reproduced following high demand. “It was the first time the brand partnered with a GCC artist,” she says.
“I love Balenciaga shoes, especially the hot pink heels with crystals on the side,” she says, adding that Gucci is currently one of her favorite brands – her latest treasures include a pair of electric blue kitten heels with spikes and an azure embroidered bag. “I like statement pieces,” she smiles. The designer knows her way around Chanel handbags, too. Her collection includes a powder pink python design and a flower-embellished creation that she enjoys for special occasions.
For a special family wedding, Al Mulla plans on wearing a sage green geometric Issey Miyake number. “The folds are really interesting,” she says. “The layers have an illusion of moving upwards.” A black Marchesa gown makes the cut for her cousin’s nuptials. The off-the-shoulder silhouette rendered in organza and chiffon is one of her treasured pieces for its sophisticated allure. Alongside her designer dresses are her own custom creations featuring inflated hems and layers of tulle. “I have my own tailor, so I tend to do my own dresses. I use a lot of solid colors in chiffon and organza, embellished with crystals.”
“Being married, having a full-time job, and raising a four-year-old keep my hands full. It gets crazy to have to juggle everything,” she confesses. Between prioritizing time for her home, family, business, and the two restaurants she co-founded with her husband, Al Mulla dedicates a day a week for self-care. “Me-time is important and I look forward to it. My husband or mother will look after my son while I get a few hours to myself.” Her favorite rituals include getting pampered at The Waldorf Astoria Spa, a manicure at The Nail Spa, or lunch with her best friend.
Photography: Daryll Borja