By Heba Elkayal
A plethora of designers from the Middle East have started to make their mark on the international fashion scene exhibiting in prominent trade shows in New York and Paris.
Some have made an over the top splash with vibrant designs that combine kaftan silhouettes with modern touches.
One example is Emirati designer Abdallah whose first name is his moniker of choice, preferring to emphasize the essence of his brand which he has named OTT: Over The Top. Based in Dubai, the brand OTT has come a long way since launching, and his designs have graced magazine covers.
Exclusively stocked by Amuse concept store in Zamalek, store owners Viviane Abdel Messih, Dina El Batal and Gailan Fahim spotted this creative designer at the “Who’s Next” trade show in Paris. “It was his color combinations and fabrics that attracted us to him, we saw the essence of the brand come out in the collection and we thought it would suit our customers in Cairo,” say the women of Amuse.
Daily News Egypt spoke exclusively to the designer about his work and what lies behind the brand.
Daily News Egypt: How did you become a designer? What compelled you to design clothes?
Abdallah: I spent my childhood like a gypsy moving back and forth between the Gulf and Europe. This unique upbringing, combined with my eastern heritage and blended with my own sense of personal expression and eccentricity, has resulted in my passion to create funky, fabulous, over the top clothes. I first knew I wanted to be a designer when I saw the Michael Jackson ‘Rock with You’ video. It was OTT galore.
How can one define your brand and its style?
Put your finger on a map of downtown Dubai and you can feel the pulse of OTT and funky fabulous. A young contemporary line born from an inexplicable stumble between two fashion victims. Fashion is about originality: you can’t look at any designs by OTT and say it is like anything out there. That says a lot with this being the era of the copycat. Nothing seems to be original anymore. We create clothes that free [themselves] of any conventional restrictions, clothes not affected by any seasonal trend, shape or rules.
Who do you design for and who do you envision wearing your clothes?
OTT is designed for those funky and fabulous women who know about fashion and want to have fun with it.
What is so appealing to you about designing a brand that is OTT?
The brand has become about beautiful, kitsch couture, terrific trash, fantastic flash and all things over the top.
Glitter, sequins and embroidery color the dreams that have driven OTT, transforming it from a bespoke caftan line to the respected buzz brand that it is today. It’s exotic and completely over the top.
What are your points of inspiration or references?
I truly believe you can find inspiration in anything, imperfections or mistakes highlights other ways to evolve ideas. I never limit myself to a certain theme or concept, there are themes but not a single one.
However, we always try to stay true to our Oriental roots bringing that touch of tongue-in-cheek Middle Eastern glamour to the limelight. Fashion is not just about innovation and originality; it is also about continuity. It’s not simply about where you got the idea but about where you take it.
What is your own personal style like and what brands do you have in your own closet?
My style is ironic and unpredictable, and I have a major hat obsession. I usually opt for unknown independent brands and up and coming designers however, I have to confess, I have an unhealthy addiction to Alexander Wang and Cheap Monday
How did it feel to have your scarves features on the cover of Elle Italia?
I was ecstatic of course. We are a small and independent Dubai-based brand that made it on the cover of one of the most prestigious fashion glossies. At the same time, it is petrifying because it emphasizes how hard we need to work in order to outshine that achievement
What are people’s reactions like to your clothes?
The best compliment I received was: ‘Your clothes are like candy we want to eat it all.’
Thank God we’ve been blessed and the reaction has been phenomenal since day one. I have clients who if they’re is doubt when looking at the stuff I tell them to put it on cause the minute it’s on you, you won’t want to leave the store without buying it
What do we have to look forward to from OTT?
Many of my girl friends and a few family members are pregnant so I think this is a good time to bring back OTT Cupcakes, a line for young girls. A home line is also in the works in the near future.
Over The Top is available exclusively at Amuse concept store in Zamalek.
15 Ismail Mohamed St.,
Tel: (02) 2737 2344
The Jawaher Ibiza kaftan with print and embellishment is perfect for beach by day, and party by night. (Courtesy of OTT)
A scarf similar to this Jungle Ibiza scarf was featured on the cover of Elle Italia recently much to the amusement of Abdallah, the designer behind the outlandish brand OTT. (Courtesy of OTT)