For next season, one Saudi brand is looking back to its roots. Womenswear label Abadia has taken inspiration from the natural beauty of the Kingdom’s Al-Hasa, the largest date oasis in the world, scattered with renowned springs and greenery, for Spring 2019. “It’s a source of life and color, yet it’s surrounded by a relentless desertous landscape,” Abadia’s co-founder, Shahd AlShehail, tells Vogue.me of her hometown. “The contrast between the two acted as inspiration for the collection and all the artisanal details.”
The idea has translated into a collection that’s “all about origins”, with fluid silhouettes, artisanal details, and splashes of earthy khakis, pale taupes, and warm yellows present throughout. Handwoven sadu details tie contemporary pieces to Saudi Arabia’s culture, with Abadia working with artisans across the Kingdom to create delicate embroidery and beading that imbue timelessly minimal shapes with a sense of history. “We worked hard to develop a strong and beautiful relationship with the artisans that create the details of our collection. Our aim is to generate sustainable employment for these women for years to come as well as preserve the craftsmanship and heritage of Saudi Arabia,”AlShehail adds.
The label currently works with more than 40 artisans in Qassim, and hopes to bolster that number in the future. “When we say that each of our designs is made with love, we truly mean it. We respect the people and the resources that go into each of our pieces,” says AlShehail.
Last month, the brand presented its SS19 collection at Paris Fashion Week, as part of its mission to put Saudi design on the global map. “People are often surprised when they hear that we are a Saudi brand, and that’s part of the stereotype we want to break,” reveals AlShehail, who founded the label with her aunt, Naeema AlShehail. “We want to showcase that being inspired by culture can be contemporary; that Saudi craftsmanship is rich and interesting.”
During Abadia’s Parisian showcase, viewers were won over by the label’s farwa, a reimagined take on the men’s outerwear staple. Enlivened with luxe fabrics and ornate detailing, it’s also AlShehail’s most beloved piece from the collection. “We’ve incorporated vintage trims that we’ve been collecting over the years, so it’s incredibly unique,” she reveals, adding that she’d love to see Black-ish actor Tracee Ellis Ross wearing Abadia. “We design for a woman that has a unique sense of style but at the same time is not afraid of experimenting.”
It may have been a busy few weeks with displays in Paris and Saudi Design Week (where Abadia unveiled upcycled luxury jewelry and local camel leather accessories), but the label shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The brand will host an international exhibition highlighting Saudi craftsmanship in the coming months, as well as participating in pop-ups in destinations such as Geneva. “And of course we will back in Paris in March to showcase our iconic farwa and continue the story,” adds AlShehail.
Scroll through the gallery above to discover more from Abadia’s Spring 2019 collection.