Outside In – ‘The Ayaba Project’ exhibition at the Katara Art Center, Doha, presents new looks for the traditional black abaya now fast disappearing under fanciful embellishments. Originally designed to cover the whole body, including the head, and always worn in public, this garment has inspired students at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar to use its sinuous, silky folds to create a variety of new outfits for day and evening wear.
VCUQatar Adjunct Professor of Fashion Stella Colaleo and fashion students Marion Sanguesa, Elizabeth Yang Soon Ju, Mona Al-Ansari (all recently graduated) and Maysaa Almumin, have adapted what was once a garment of striking uniformity into brilliantly innovative creations which can be shared by women around the world. With simple modifications such as slits, attaching buttons and drawstrings any number of variations can be achieved as the accompanying images show.
Enjoy the exhibition and be inspired to copy or design a new look for yourself using this garment so evocative of Qatari culture. Abayas can be purchased in the souq but be sure to find the traditional variety, which looks like the man’s version but in plain black silk.
The event is open to the public.