Titled (sha’ir al malyon thawb), this combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah) was donated by the UAE designer Wadima Al Ameri to The Zay Initiative together with another ensemble (ZI2021.500975.1 UAE) that is featured 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.
Wadima Al Ameri is an Al Ain-based mother of three boys and three girls. She holds a bachelor in advertising 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 tailoring workshop in 2018.
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, utilising the inner tunic as lining and creating a combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah).
This example records post 2020 stage of evolution of traditional UAE dress of the contemporary combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah).
The emerald green French tulle (tur) overgarment (thawb) is stylized with sleeves cut in a fan shape that taper at mid-point, while the lower half, making up the skirt, is cut in large triangular shapes to accentuate the waist when worn with a belt. There is no gusset (bat) below the sleeve as is customary in traditional dress.
It is machine embroidered (khwar), in arabesque floral motif on the neckline (halj), central axis (bidhah) of the overgarment (thawb), delineating a large V-shaped form borrowing its outline from Moroccan style (qaftan). Additionally, two 3 cm wide vertical lines of the same arabesque floral embroidery, highlight the central dress panel as well as sleeve hemlines.
The whole embroidery work is further embellished with citrine and emerald iron-on Swarovski crystals. The latter is placed on individually embroidered floral petals then fixed together creating tactile three-dimensional flowers.
The inner tunic (kandurah) of green satin silk, is attached to the overgarment (thawb) at the neckline. It has long sleeveless and is narrower and more figure-hugging at the waist, were the overall shape of resembles the traditional dress known locally as (gawan) or (nafnuf) or (biji/bichi) rather than the traditional tunic (kandurah). The sleeve cuffs are treated with the same embellishments as the overgarment (thawb).