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Label to watch: HESSEH by Hessa Al Obaidli

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Do we already have too many abaya designers here in the UAE? Despite it being the local women’s national dress, there aren’t a lot of recognisable labels that we could mention – barring a number of no-names in Satwa – whenever we touch upon the subject.

Sure there’s the Harrod’s-worthy creations by DAS and the ultra-modern abaya spins by Malaak, but apart from these two, very few others have become household names. So our quest to welcome new couture abaya label continues. And we’ve found yet another one – Hesseh by Emirati designer Hessa Al Obaidli.

You may have seen the teaser image from a couple weeks back, featuring a model doing a high-fashion pose by what we could only assume is a non-operational fountain in Paris, in a black abaya ornamented by a yellow tassel and a few square feet of royal blue fabric, and topped off by a pair of McQueen-like platforms. An overall interesting aesthetic, so we decided to learn more about the brand and the designer behind it.

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How did you get started in designing? What’s your background?

My interest in fashion design started at an early age when I was about 10 years old. Growing up, I was watched my mother make clothes for me and my sisters, which inspired me to draw sketches and stitch clothes for my dolls. My mother supported me when she noticed my passion and tried to develop my talent by teaching me how to properly sew and embroider and do basic stitches, which eventually had a positive impact on me by becoming an ambitious abaya designer.

However, when I grew up I didn’t immediately pursue a career in fashion, and instead I studied business management. I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur in the fashion world as I believe that I’ve got the talent, but lacking basic business knowledge was an obstacle. Thus, I decided to further my education in business so as to improve my management skills, which would definitely support me in running my business.

What convinced you to launch your own brand?

I realized that wherever I went, women would constantly ask me where I made my abaya. Therefore, with the support of my friends and family, I finally decided to expand my business and take it to the next level to meet the needs of all stylish women who are looking for unique and sophisticated abaya designs.

We already have established luxury abaya brands like DAS. How do you plan to compete?

Competing is not in my plan. my actual plan is to create an outstanding international brand with a different line in the fashion industry.

What makes HESSEH stand out?

As you already mentioned that there are so many abaya makers in the region, especially in the UAE. For this reason, when I decided to launch the HESSEH brand, I have already put in mind to create something very different and unique by focusing on two major elements: design and photography. I consider my designs as a new line in the abaya segment as they are a mixture of abayas and dresses. The second element, photography, is something that I pursue in displaying each collection with a different concept and theme that haven’t been used in the abaya industry.

How many pieces are in your collection now?

So far i have launched two collections, which are Spring/Summer 2011 (15 pieces) and Fall/Winter 2012 (17 pieces). I also have a few pieces that are not on display and are only available through special order.

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