Out of public eye, Arab women power haute couture

Middle East's social calendar is creating a vibrant couture culture within its conservative circles
The biggest buyers of haute couture today centre around the Gulf

The biggest buyers of haute couture today centre around the Gulf

They are rarely spotted on the front row of a fashion show and favour discretion when placing orders, yet women from the Middle East have become the world's biggest buyers of high fashion.

The trend may surprise given that many Arab women, particularly in the Gulf region, are traditionally kept under wraps.

But their social calendar, which usually consists of 15-20 weddings a year and private parties every month, creates much bigger demand for couture than the occasional charity ball and high society party in Europe and in North America.

And wearing the same dress twice is not an option.

Traditional buyers of exclusive designer clothes tend to include members of rich industrial or royal families and expatriates.

The biggest buyers of haute couture today centre around the Gulf - Saudis, Kuwaitis, Qataris and nationals of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who do not hesitate to spend 50,000 euros on a low-cleavage lame for an event where no men will be present.

"All the royal families of the Middle East are our customers," Catherine Riviere, head of haute couture at Christian Dior, said at the brand's show at Paris Fashion Week which ends on Wednesday.

Middle Eastern customers have also recently shown growing support for Lebanese designers such as Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad.

Fashion executives say the Middle East is likely to remain the top couture client for the foreseeable future if the economic environment deteriorates in Europe and North America.

The luxury goods industry has not yet been hit by the global slowdown but many analysts fear it will not come out of the downturn unscathed, particularly if China's growth starts to slow down.

"Women from the Middle East are our top buyers and they are likely to remain so," said Jeffry Aronsson, who became chief executive of Emanuel Ungaro three months ago, having run Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs in the past.

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Posted by: bu khalifa

any comment here or does it have to be about Emiratis/expats/Dubai so we can see 20+ comments ;) Trust me they mentioned most off the GCC countries here I am just suprised no one made a comment

Posted by: Slavica Gloria Barun Gojceta

I'm impressed about arabian couture buyers; how much they spend,who the buyers are, what they are buying.......very interesting

Posted by: Ennis Stallings

I just read this article after reading about Alshaya retail conglomerate scrapping refunds from customers.
Seems the well-privileged of the Gulf will continue purchasing high end, while companies like H&M or TOPSHOP will continue not respecting customers by selling faulty goods and ending refunds to all purchasers, allowing only store credit.

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