Crafting a range of eveningwear just felt like the natural next step for womenswear designer Shatha Essa. “It’s always been my vision. I love dressing up, so it was something that’s always been in the pipeline for my brand,” she explains to Vogue.me of her namesake label, first launched back in 2016. Prior to turning her love for fashion into a fully-fledged career, the Emirati designer pursued a degree in Art & Design at Zayed University, majoring in Interior Design. She would go on to land a job with the first Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience in 2015. It was there she met the late Vogue Italia editor-in chief, Franca Sozzani, whom Essa credits with inspiring her to change her course and venture into fashion design. “During the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience I had the honor of meeting the late Franca Sozzani. She commented on the piece that I was wearing for the VFDE gala finner and said, ‘You can do something with that,'” Essa recalls.
Approximately one year later, she took Sozzani’s advice and launched her eponymous womenswear label: a glamorous line-up of intricately crafted, made-in-the-UAE abayas, kaftans, jalabiyas, and maxi dresses. And while most designers wait a few years until they’ve established a market before extending their collections, the Dubai-based creative wasted no time in expanding her repertoire, deciding to introduce an eveningwear range only two years after founding her label. Entitled Shatha Essa Noir, the debut of the new offering was admittedly premature due to increased demand from clientele. “I started by designing the Arya dress, which I wore to an event a while back. I originally had a plan to launch Shatha Essa Noir next year but after receiving a lot of positive feedback on the dress, I realized that now is the right time,” explains the designer.
The result is a line-up of heavily embellished gowns and separates made with luxurious materials such as silk, tulle, organza, and point d’espirt overlay. Each A-line dress, ball gown, or cape features pearl adornments or cascading crystals. Despite its name, the collection features a romantic color palette of soft, feminine hues in blush, eggshell blue, cream, and ivory—a stark contrast to the ready-to-wear range, which comes almost exclusively in black. “The reason why women here tend to lean more towards minimal black abayas is because it’s something that we wear everyday. It should be practical with minimal design,” explains Essa. “On the other hand, the colorful and more playful designs are worn during events, parties, and weddings.”
Inspired by the Chateau de Versailles during one snowy trip to France, (“the snow-covered gardens were a magical sight”) the collection — which was six months in the making — was photographed against the backdrop of a centuries-old house in Paris’s Maisons-Lafitte. The range is currently available to purchase online, or at the Shatha Essa showroom in Jumeirah, which is currently under renovation. “I want to create a beautiful space where my clients can receive a very personal and luxurious experience while shopping. It will be ready by the New Year.” Just in time for all the upcoming fêtes.
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