Published in Villa 88 magazine, Autumn issue 2016

Emirati fashion designer, LATIFA AL GURG weaves her love for travel to far-flung abodes and diverse cultures into her collections, specially for the jet-setting Arab woman, writesPRIYANKAPRADHAN

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Download PDF: https://www.scribd.com/document/329384888/Bohemian-Rhapsody

From China to Antartica and from Denmark to London, Latifa Al Gurg’s designs tell stories of her journey across the world. The engineer-turned-fashion designer’s own Scandinivian-Emirati background is sometimes reflected in her label, Twisted Roots – a name that resonates with her mixed heritage and outlook on travel.

But she’s not your average Instagram filter- friendly traveler, as her passion for travel goes well beyond just sight-seeing and taking pictures. Al Gurg applies her deep love for architecture and design and an unrelenting thirst for research on history to her travels and eventually, into her collections.

“Culture and tradition is something very important to me. I’ve always liked to read about the history and evolution of costumes across the world. I approach fashion from an intellectual perspective and I’m trying to bring that into my collections,” she says.

“For example, I’ve always loved everything about China- the architecture, the culture and fabrics so I’ve created an adaptation of the iconic Chinese roofs into the shoulder details of some of my pieces and also created a reference to the incredible terracotta warriors into some of my other pieces from my Green Tea collection,” she adds.

Her love for in-depth research was what led her to launch her own label, when she realized that there’s a gap in the local market for modest clothing for Arab women.

“As a family, we travel a lot. When I travel, I dress modestly even though I don’t wear an abaya so I kept struggling to find appropriate clothing for my travels. I wondered why there were no brands that do this because it’s quite a tedious task to put everything together. So I decided to research this further and realized there’s definitely an opportunity here.”

Born out of this need for a one-stop shop for the jet- setting Arab woman, Twisted Roots caters to quality- conscious modest dressers who appreciate fine craftsmanship.

“Most of our fabrics are custom dyed for us and our silks are woven especially for us- we work with the mills to develop this from scratch,” she says, “Even in the making of a simple shirt for example, sometimes the fabric is sourced from turkey, the buttons from Italy, thread from Taiwan and we bring it all together at our atelier in Dubai.”

“We put a lot of e ort and attention to detail so that the final product is something that a customer would cherish for life- it’s meant to be something that stays with you for a very long time, not just for a season or two,” she adds.

While her first collection was a tribute to her own mixed culture with the silks and embroidery being very typically Emirati and the color palette being predominantly Danish, her latest collection is inspired by the sights, colors and textures of London- greys, blues and structured tailoring that reference the architecture – an aesthetic she hopes will appeal to the local cognoscenti.

“I think as Arabs, we travel more widely and tend to absorb more cultures – curious and interested, open to explore. So the Middle Eastern customer is so much more aware of quality, craftsmanship and our worldview is so broad. This makes the customer tough to please but also, a pleasure to work with. We are also a part of the shopping culture across the world and that makes the Arab customer so unique because we bring back and wear what we’ve experienced,” says Al Gurg.

Going forward, Al Gurg is keen on exploring new journeys for Twisted Roots, well beyond the UAE. As she puts it, “The journey is what makes the story worthwhile. It’s all about evolving and learning – in entrepreneurship, in travel and in life itself!”

“We put a lot of e ort and attention to detail so that the final product is something that a customer would cherish for life- it’s meant to be something that stays with you for a very long time, not just for a season or two,” she adds.

While her first collection was a tribute to her own mixed culture with the silks and embroidery being very typically Emirati and the color palette being predominantly Danish, her latest collection is inspired by the sights, colors and textures of London- greys, blues and structured tailoring that reference the architecture – an aesthetic she hopes will appeal to the local cognoscenti.

“I think as Arabs, we travel more widely and tend to absorb more cultures – curious and interested, open to explore. So the Middle Eastern customer is so much more aware of quality, craftsmanship and our worldview is so broad. This makes the customer tough to please but also, a pleasure to work with. We are also a part of the shopping culture across the world and that makes the Arab customer so unique because we bring back and wear what we’ve experienced,” says Al Gurg.

Going forward, Al Gurg is keen on exploring new journeys for Twisted Roots, well beyond the UAE. As she puts it, “The journey is what makes the story worthwhile. It’s all about evolving and learning – in entrepreneurship, in travel and in life itself!”

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