Dubai-based Saudi Arabian designer, Effa Al Dabbagh, graduated with a degree in Fashion from the United Kingdom and then immersed herself in the fashion world, working as a brand manager and fashion buyer. However, having been interested in fashion designing since she was ten years old, along with having influential fashion role models in the form of family members, Effa then launched her own luxury fashion collection, Effa. Consisting of a colorful ready-to-wear line and elegant, feminine abayas, Effa seeks to find a meeting point between contemporary moods and traditional Middle Eastern sensibilities.
Khaleejesque spoke to Effa to learn more about the journey behind her brand..
Could you please tell us a little bit about your background?
Well, I have always loved art, particularly drawing and painting, since a young age. It was how I entertained myself as a child and I would spend hours painting and sketching in my room. However, I began to get interested in fashion design only when I turned ten years old. I grew up in a family of stylish and fashionable women: my grandmother, mother and elder sisters were very particular about the way they dressed, and the many shopping trips I accompanied them to London influenced me greatly! I then decided to pursue my studies in fashion design and graduated with a degree in Fashion from The Surrey Institute of Art and Design, United Kingdom.
How did you get inspired to begin Effa Collection and when did you launch the first collection? Was it exclusively abayas or a mixture of ready to wear and abayas?
I noticed that there was a real gap in the market what with not much variety in modern elegant clothing, which was fashionable, flattering, and beautifully made while simultaneously suitable for the Middle Eastern lifestyle. I began with my first collection of ready to wear in 2006 and received a great response: it all sold out. I continued with the ready-to-wear line and I then launched my first collection of Effa Abaya Couture in 2007.
What signature elements define Effa Collection?
The Effa style is feminine and elegant, vibrantly hued, and luxurious with couture like attention to detail. I would define it as being contemporary Middle Eastern elegance with a European twist. My designs are made with an emphasis on beautiful and unusual cuts that are flattering to the female form. My aim is ultimately to make the wearer look and feel great.
What do you keep in mind while designing the abayas? Is there a particular customer in mind whom you can see wearing the Effa Abayas?
I always think about the wearer when designing the abayas. The Effa customer is a modern independent woman, who loves fashion and wishes to dress in a unique, feminine, trendy and elegant manner whilst retaining her Middle Eastern values.
What has been the customers' feedback to the abayas?
My clients love wearing the Effa Abaya Couture collection; they tell me that they feel feminine and beautiful when they dress in Effa. They love the quality, cuts, and the fact that they are wearing something which is one of a kind. Customers also often tell me that other ladies often stop them in the malls to enquire as to where they purchased their Abaya. For me, it is the greatest compliment that I could receive.
Do you take seasonal global trends into account while designing your ready to wear or do you incorporate other influences into them?
International trends are definitely an important consideration when I design. However, I do imbibe influences from other varied sources such as travel and art. I love visiting museums and looking at the history of fashion to derive inspiration from different historical eras.
What made you branch out into accessories?
The bag is every woman's perfect accessory. I decided to make a small exclusive collection of clutches, all hand-crafted in Italy and made from the finest quality of genuine exotic leather. The clutches are versatile and easy to wear – a must in every woman's wardrobe!
What inspires and motivates you?
What motivates me the most is the feedback and appreciation I get from my customers. I would like to create a better collection in every season; I love designing so it is a pleasure for me to do so. At the end of the day, the greatest satisfaction is seeing a woman dressed in Effa and looking fabulous and beautiful, radiating confidence.
Can you share some of your upcoming plans for Effa?
My immediate plans are to continue developing the Effa ready to wear line to incorporate more variety in the collection. In the long term, I dream of launching an Effa line of fine jewelry as jewelry is also one of my passions.
Discover Effa’s designs on her website www.effa.ae or visit her store, Effa Boutique in Palm Strip Mall, Jumeira, Dubai.
– Priyanka Sacheti