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This combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah), titled thawb Zānahā Zayid, was donated by the UAE textile and fashion designer Moza Saeed AL Rumaithi to The Zay Initiative and will be included in the Fanan: The Art of Dress Exhibition, curated by The Zay Initiative at Zeman Awwal, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, from 28 January to 28 March 2022.
The exhibition will showcase the intersecting relationship between Art and Fashion while continuing to document the evolution of UAE traditional dress through the works of five UAE designers and five UAE artists. Together we will explore what fashion and heritage mean to contemporary Emirati women.
Moza Saeed AL Rumaithi is an Abu Dhabi-based, mother of two boys and two girls. She holds a diploma in business from the Higher College of Technology, Abu Dhabi, and is a self-taught fashion talent. Her interest in dressmaking started at a very young age by designing dresses for family members and friends before launching her Instagram based brand in 2010.
Digitally printed (crepe de chine) fabric, creating the overgarment (thawb) and lining replacing the traditional undergarment (kandurah).
Before the 1980s, it was common to employ contrasting colours and techniques within the components of UAE traditional dress. Women used to wear an overgarment (thawb) that contrasted with the tunic dress (kandurah) underneath. Soon this evolved into matching sets known as (thawb_wa_kandurah), where the two garments were made of the same or matching fabrics and colours. By the late 1990s, this evolved further, as the two separate articles were merged into one and became attached at the neckline, using the inner tunic as lining and creating a combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah).
This example records the post-2020 evolution of the traditional UAE dress where the contemporary combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah) is made from printed fabric to resemble a traditional panelled garment (myaza’), and an inner tunic (kandurah) that acts as a lining.
Traditionally, (myaza’) evolved out of frugality, when garments were made from several pieces of expensive fabric remnants. Over time it came to be recognized as a style in itself called (myaza’), (mfahah) or (myarah).
The designer not only designed the garment but also the fabric. Creating the pattern and outline of traditional garments in a digital format and then had it printed onto the fabric. This means the coloured panelling and embellishments resembling (talli) work are in fact printed onto the fabric. The garment is made of one continuous piece of fabric rather than assembled pattern pieces.
The floral motifs depicting red roses and foliage is also printed and then embellished with rhinestones lending it some sparkle.
A small oval portrait of Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the UAE, is printed in the centre front of the round neckline, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the UAE in 2021.
The sleeves on the outer garment are short, only reaching the elbow. Narrow, long sleeves, also with printed cuff designs, are attached to the inner lining and protrude past the sleeve openings on the outer garment thawb, giving the impression of a traditional combination thawb_kandurah.
A lightweight belt made of the same material as the dress is attached to the inside of the outer layer, protruding through the sleeve openings and can be tied behind the back to lend a more figure-hugging shape to the garment.