The London-based Saudi Arabian beauty entrepreneur opens her couture closet.
1. Keeping The Tradition Alive
For Al Sharefa Aisha Almamy, who was born in Mecca, heritage is a vital part of life. For her pre-wedding celebrations, she revived the traditional all-white bridal ensemble and henna rituals observed in the Alhijaz region. “Not everyone is keeping up with the tradition nowadays, however, it’s important to me to keep it alive,” she says. “For a henna ceremony, the bride-to-be wears a white or cream dress with a hijab style veil. Pearls and gold are essential elements of the look. Sometimes the dresses are embroidered with crystals. It depends on the woman and how she wants to design her gown. As for makeup, it should be kept to a minimum or none at all.” For her henna night that took place a week before her wedding, Almamy asked Rami Kadi to design the traditional look: a high-neck tunic embroidered with pearls, coupled with a form-fitting silk dress, and a silk veil draped over her head, which was adorned with a delicate pearl tiara. The designer was also responsible for her crystal-embellished, princess-cut wedding gown.
2. Premium Vintage
The London-based Almamy has a special talent for scoring rare vintage pieces. Among her favorite finds is a Christian Dior haute couture red silk dress from the brand’s 1952 collection. “I’ve worn this dress so many times,” she says. “It’s beautiful for an afternoon tea or a women’s gathering in Dubai.” She also wore the special number to a Dior dinner to celebrate the launch of the fragrance Joy. Another treasured vintage find is a Christian Dior skirt suit from its 1948 collection. Cut in Dior’s revolutionary New Look silhouette, Almamy describes it as flattering: “The skirt hits below the knee – the right length for when I have to attend an official meeting or a formal function.” Another gem in her closet is a black Yves Saint Laurent cocktail dress. “It’s perfect for London weather since the fabric is heavy,” says the Saudi beauty consultant, who is working on a line of beauty essentials with the creative director of a major Parisian fashion house. Possessing a slice of fashion history is no easy feat, as Almamy explains: “It was so hard to find those vintage pieces, especially in the perfect fit and right condition.”
Originally published in the March 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia
3. New-Season Splurges
“I can’t wait to wear Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry collection,” says Almamy about the Italian creative director’s debut SS19 collection for the British brand. “He’s a friend of mine and I’ve loved his work since Givenchy. I see his success and taking Burberry to the next level. I say this not just because he’s my friend, but because I genuinely love all the pieces,” she says with a smile. During Paris couture week SS19, Almamy placed a number of orders that she’s excited to wear. A ruffled red gown by Rami Al Ali made the cut, while two looks – a one-shoulder black sequin dress and a pouf shoulder top and skirt – from Alexandre Vauthier’s runway show caught her eye. However, she didn’t have to wait until spring to wear one of Rami Kadi’s couture creations. “The day after the show, I wore one of the show dresses for a private birthday dinner. It felt like Paris was my runway,” she says. Brave in her fashion choices, Almamy describes her personal style as eclectic. Think head-to-toe sequins courtesy of Natasha Zinko or a vintage Jean Paul Gaultier corset top. “I like to be brave in my fashion choices,” says Almamy. “Sometimes I’m shy so I let my outfits do the talking.” What’s next in her expanding wardrobe? Ashi Studio. “I love his creativity and his designs are so elegant,” she says. “We spoke during couture week about two pieces I wanted from his first show – a bright yellow cocktail number featuring a ruffled tutu skirt and a hot-pink voluminous gown.”
4. Arm Candy
“My go-to accessories are handbags,” she says, pulling out her first Hermès Kelly; a gift from her mother 15 years ago. “After my third Hermès bag, I started collecting them.” Her Emirati businessman husband, who she married a year ago in Paris, also gifted her a green mini Kelly bag during their engagement period, referencing the green of her country’s flag. “Hermès bags are classic, timeless, and great investment pieces,” she explains. Almamy is also a big collector of Judith Leiber sculptural minaudières. “They are the perfect combination of an art piece and a handbag,” she shares. A crystal-encrusted rose clutch sits alongside a bejeweled butterfly bag in her spare bedroom closet, and a rare double bag covered in crystals is considered to be one of her favorite finds. Petite proportions also take form in Jacquemus’s micro purse that she has in black, brown, and yellow. “They’re so tiny I can only fit my lipstick and house keys,” she laughs. “I was out with my friends and they peeked in my bag because they were so curious to see what was inside.” And what greeted them? A small packet of sweets.
5. Passionate Jewels
A jewelry piece in its own right, her DeLaneau watch – a birthday gift from her husband – is a star attraction in her jewelry box. Set with diamonds and rubies, it serves as more than a timepiece. “The bracelet was a bit big, so I had the extra stones taken out and turned them into earrings. It looks stunning because now they seem like a set,” Almamy says. Bulgari takes up a large chunk of her repertoire of jewels. “It’s such a fascinating brand,” she shares. She styled pieces from its Divas’ Dream Collection with a voluminous Krikor Jabotian gown to attend the inaugural Vogue Arabia Ball of Arabia. Flashing among the cluster of jewels was her favorite Serpenti bracelet watch, as well as artistic coin earrings from the Bulgari Monete line. “When I believe in a brand, I start collecting it,” she shares.
6. Show-Stopping Shoes
“Pumps can work with any look,” the entrepreneur feels. “They can be chic with a formal outfit and casual with a pair of linen pants or jeans.” The new Burberry pointy pumps with tape detail on the front tip is her favorite pair at the moment. “They are so comfortable, I can wear them all day,” she shares. She also believes Manolo Blahnik shoes are a must in every well-heeled woman’s closet – she rotates between her blue, yellow, and blush Hangisi crystal brooch pumps. To add a feminine touch to her look, she’ll choose her Jimmy Choo Cinderella shoes. “These are more like an art piece than shoes. They are so beautiful, and I feel so special wearing them.”