There’s no question that Dolce and Gabbana’s Abaya collection is gorgeous. Rendered primarily in black and beige, the floor-length pieces are accented with lace and embroidered flowers; a stunning marriage of Sicily and Dubai. You can totally picture Gisele Bundchen throwing one on to pop over to the plastic surgeon’s. But still, they’re plaguing me with mixed emotions.
On the one hand, the collection offers (the upper class) women of the Arab world a high fashion option previously unavailable to them. It’s evident in their designer handbags and sunglasses that the demand has been there for years, and frankly I’m surprised it’s taking high end brand this long to capitalize on it (always ahead of the curve, Uniqlo debuted their hijab collection last year). And, perhaps most importantly, more opulent and fashion-forward Abaya’s can be viewed as a sign of progression. If other brands follow suit, women can shop to taste and their selections could be viewed as self-expression, something women in the Arab world aren’t traditionally, you know, encouraged to do.
But the skeptic in me merely sees dollar signs. I just picture some business-side fashion bro in a Dolce and Gabbana suit sitting in a boardroom somewhere pumping his fist and shouting “WE HAVE TO TAP THIS MARKET.” That is to say, knowing how fashion brands work (i.e. bottom line gets higher priority than social consciousness and, in some respects, creativity) it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a money move. Really, it looks like a brilliant, gorgeously embroidered money move because, as you undoubtedly know, there is a lot of money kicking around in places like Dubai and, as I said before, the demand for luxury womenswear is evidently lying dormant and UNTAPPED. And I haven’t even mentioned all the goodwill the brand is accruing on account of the countless news sources applauding the collection.
So enjoy your strong first quarter, Dolce and Gabbana, while I try to push that capitalist thinking from my brain and simply enjoy these garments for the lovely things they are.