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10 Saudi Designers on Creating Custom Lavender Looks Worn By Top Models for Vogue Arabia

Romantic, fantastical, luxurious, royal. As lavender spreads across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Vogue Arabia marks a new chapter in high fashion.

Taleedah Tamer wears April By Noura AlSaif

Taleedah Tamer wears April By Noura AlSaif. Earring, April By Noura Alsaif; bracelets, Cartier. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

Known for a pastel color palette and floral motifs, Riyadh-based label April by Noura Alsaif has dressed a number of well-known faces in its signature feminine style – Ajwa Al Joudi and Zena Louay, among others – since its establishment in 2016. “We were inspired by the breathtaking lavender flowers in our deserts,” says Alsaif, keeping in line with her penchant for taking pride in floral delights. With the goal of creating fully green collections, April by Noura Alsaif makes a committed effort to use sustainable fabrics in its atelier.

Candice Swanepoel wears Yousef Akbar

Candice Swanepoel in Yousef Akbar. Bracelet, Cartier. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

Based between Sydney and Jeddah, Yousef Akbar challenges conventions in cutting and construction to evoke emotions linked to each collection’s inspirations. Known for eveningwear with his signature drape, the designer stresses that “it all starts by draping, trying to convey an emotion through the design, and then I see where that journey takes the dress.” For this piece, the vision came in the form of a dream. He was flying across all the regions of Saudi Arabia, a sense of freedom and joy dominating his mind as he weaved through the clouds witnessing the beauty of his country; this is the feeling he aimed to capture within this dress.

Sasha Luss wears Honayda

Sasha Luss in Honayda. Shoes, Carolina Herrera. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

Having dressed some of the most famous women on the planet – from Naomi Campbell and Priyanka Chopra to Adriana Lima and Shay Mitchell – Honayda Serafi’s signature tuxedos, power suits, and jumpsuits along with kaftan dresses are now much sought after. Bride-to-be Rajwa Al-Saif wore a bespoke white-and-gold creation crafted by the designer to her pre-wedding henna party in Jordan last month. Similar to other designers across this shoot, Serafi, too, has found her inspiration in the lavender fields of the Kingdom, which are also present in the unique print of her SS23 collection. Made by expert tailors in Beirut, the bespoke piece features 3D bouquet-like lavender flowers crafted with crystals, thin plexi, and sequins blooming from a sheer tulle dress gleaming with soft sparkles. “I always like to experiment with new shapes, textures, and techniques, which I absolutely enjoyed doing while designing this bespoke piece for the special Saudi issue,” says Serafi.

Sophie Alshehry wears Lurline

Sophie AlShehry in Lurline. Earring, necklace, Cartier. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

Sisters Sarah and Siham Albinali of Lurline also found inspiration in spring’s rolling fields. Keeping to their label’s reputation for dark and mysterious soft goth elements that exude a daring sense of femininity, this lavender iteration reflects the fields at night. Sustainability has been kept at the forefront of this design. “We reinterpreted our couture fabric from a previous collection and developed it further for a fresh new take on the lavender fields at night; a true Lurline dress.”

Coco Rocha wears Atelier Hekayat

Coco Rocha in Atelier Hekayat. Shoes, Carolina Herrera. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

Demi couture label Atelier Hekayat is all about permeating its designs with art, history, and love. Which is why design duo Alia and Abeer Oraif consider this “an amazing project and a memorable one.” For this special design for Vogue Arabia, the pair chose to work with upcycled tulle, which was naturally dyed with desert sands and as such carries a piece of their home within its folds. A collaboration with Film AlUla and British Fashion Council allowed the brand to create a romantic story inspired by the ancient city of AlUla to encompass all that this design represents.

Sara Sampaio wears Mashael Al Faris

Sara Sampaio in Mashael Al Faris. Necklace, Cartier. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

“Saudi Arabia is rich in culture to be inspired by,” Mashael Al Faris says in conversation about her design process. The result is a gown that exudes her label’s signature modest elegance and high-quality craftsmanship while paying homage to the Kingdom. Created in a studio with a collaborative process between the designer and her team of expert craftsmen, this dress has been crafted using sustainable fibers and recycled materials. The label counts Farida Khelfa, Anna Dello Russo, HRH Princess Noura Alfaisal, Mahlagha Jaberi, and more among its customers.

Isabeli Fontana wears Loodyana

Isabeli Fontana in Loodyana. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

Established in 2011 in Jeddah by the Al Hakbani sisters Abeer and Kholoud, Loodyana treads the line between tradition and modernity as it strives to represent modern Arabian femininity – Princess Reema bint Bandar has been spotted in one of these luxurious pieces. This lavender number incorporates the brand’s signature 3D embroidery. While working in their atelier, the designers’ creativity was sparked by unused fabric. Kholoud says, “I use the leftover fabric to invent new designs of embroidery, as I did on the chest of the dress.”

Toni Garrn wears Kaf By Kaf

Toni Garrn in Kaf By Kaf. Shoes, Carolina Herrera. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

Kawthar Alhoraish, the creative force behind luxury fashion label Kaf by Kaf, has carved out a distinct identity for herself within the Saudi fashion industry. One marked by avant-garde pieces and bold hues carried by daring women such as Alicia Keys, Nojoud Alrumaihi, rally driver Mashael Alobaidan, and several other actors, celebrities, and influencers. The designer described her creation as “a wearable lavender field. The concept emphasizes the explosion of lavender in the Saudi region.” This display of a burst of motifs is an ode from the designer to the stunning landscape of her home.

Amira Al Zuhair wears Raghad AlBlaihed

Amira Al Zuhair in Raghad AlBlaihed. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

Impeccable tailoring and subtle elegance characterize every piece from Raghad Alblaihed since it was established in 2019. For the designer, each collection is a reflection of her distinctive creative vision. Making use of purple tulle fabric, she created a dress “full of dense folds and layers. It has been made by hand with precise accuracy to give an attractive overlap,” she says. The design is a testimony to the expertise that Alblaihed holds when it comes to crafting timeless sartorial excellence.

Donna Bahdon wears ArAm By Arwa Alammari

Donna Bahdon in ArAm by Arwa Alammari. Photo: Domen & Van De Velde

After looking at photos of lavender on waves of sand, Arwa Alammari of ArAm was mesmerized. The designer considers her creation “a search on the nature of lavender in Saudi and how it differs from other lavender species.” Working with local craftsmen and using clever cutting methods to minimize fabric waste, ArAm explores slow fashion and localized production. Additional features such as a seasonless design philosophy and free-of-charge maintenance for all garments as an after-sales service ensure that this couture favorite remains planet-friendly.

Originally published in the June 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia

Style: Nicola Formichetti
Fashion director: Amine Jreissati
Fashion market editor: Mohammad Hazem Rezq

Makeup: Liselotte Van Saarloos
Hair: Joeri Rouffa
Producer: Sam Allison
Local production: Photobomb Production
Local producer: Johnny Pascucci
Project manager: David Newman
Production coordinator: Nick Lambrakis, Lawrence Casseus
Production assistant: Armando Guerrero
Photography assistants: Laura Berrou & John Ruiz
Makeup assistant: Maddie Chamberland
Hair assistant: Joffrey Conings & Jelle Bogaerts
Special thanks: Moxy NYC Lower East Side

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