#CNILux: Amal Al Raisi on Understanding the Omani Woman

With her passion and talent for handwork, detail, and craftsmanship, Amal Al Raisi – Founder and Creative Director of the eponymous 10-year-old label – is forging a reputation that extends far beyond her native Oman. A recurring theme in all her collections is her connection to her homeland, the host of this year’s CNI Luxury Conference.

“I’m very proud to be Omani, and Oman has always been my inspiration. Directly or indirectly I always put something from Oman in my collection and I want the world to see that,” she told Suzy Menkes and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Arabia, Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz. “We’re here talking about the silk routes, and Oman has always had a major role in that (trading frankincense), so it came naturally to use this as inspiration.”

Al Raisi has also just introduced a “more modest” ready-to-wear collection, “And with that I offer my Omani customers more selection,” she says. The one item in particular that she has become known for offering to her customers is the abaya, the head scarf worn by observant Muslim women, and which she says she is proud is synonymous with Oman.

“I think an abaya is a wardrobe essential for every Arab woman. It’s like the Little Black Dress for the western world. “Arab women don’t like their bodies to be exposed, so the abaya is perfect for them and, coming from a warm region, it’s comfortable too. It comes in different shapes and colours, and designers take a lot of effort to decorate it. We wear it with pride and I design it with pride … The modest fashion trend is helping a lot because Muslim and Arab designers are trying hard to show the world that we too have beautiful things.”