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RAYA AL KHALIFA

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RAYA AL KHALIFA

  1. 1. styleThe where fashion gets personal Words by Alex Aubry Photography by Jorell Legaspi vintage expression Sheikha Raya Al-Khalifa is shaking up Qatar’s style scene with a mix of old and new Raya Al-Khalifa wears: Broadtail fur cape with silver fox collar, Walid at CoutureLab. Abaya, her own design with trimmings from haberdashery shops in Doha. Belt, Alexander McQueen. Demi-parure of 1950s earrings and necklace, QR2,875, Juliana Givré; 1930s dress clip on turban, QR1,255; 1940s brooch, QR910, all from Raya Al-Khalifa private sales @RayaAlKhalifa. Diamond and emerald bracelet and diamond ring, Raya’s own
  2. 2. 54|Harper’s BAZAAR Arabia Qatar Special Harper’s BAZAAR Arabia Qatar Special |55 CREDITHERE state of Qatar,” continues the mother of two, who believes Sheikha Mozah’s influence extends far beyond fashion. “Qatari women today are the most ambitious members of any society I have come across. They are certainly not ‘kept clothes horses’ but, rather, burgeoning entrepreneurs, creative artists, dedicated mothers and avid learners forming the backbone to this tiny Gulf state which is making waves internationally, and looking pretty chic as they do it!” Together with her husband Fahad Mohammed Al-Attiya, chairman of the Qatar National Food Security Programme and legal advisor, and two young sons, Raya now divides her time between homes in Doha, London and Florida. Not surprisingly, each location has influenced the way she dresses today. “Living in Florida gave me a taste for colour and the more vibrant side of fashion. I moved there at the height of Gianni Versace’s fame, and the artists Keith Haring and Romero Britto stick out in my mind from that period as well. In London I’ve always felt more extroverted and willing to experiment; mixing classic tailored pieces with quirky accessories. Now that I live in Doha, I’ve been channelling my inner Grecian goddess with long, flowing dresses and gorgeous vintage inspired turbans that translate well between the different cultures,” she explains. Yet living in both the West and Middle East has also given Raya a unique vantage point, from which to observe certain misconceptions about the way women dress in the region. “Many of my Western friends thought I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing the abaya, which has not been the case. I see it instead as a blank canvas to express my own sense of style. I enjoy adding finishing touches to it or sourcing trimmings to create a unique look,” explains Raya, who also has a soft spot for vintage couture and jewellery. “A lot of people used to scoff at the idea of something ‘old.’ With vintage it isn’t simply about the designer but the history attached to STYLEThe “Igrew uptravellinga greatdeal,andbeingexposed todifferentcultureshas definitely influencedthe wayIapproachfashion,” saysSheikha RayaAl-Khalifa,whosepersonalobservation sumsupthefashionsensibilityofmodern-dayDoha... cosmopolitan city where cross-cultural encounters are the norm, today Doha is home to a new generation of style setters fusing global influences with local customs. Raya Al-Khalifa, a Bahraini married to a Qatari, spent most of her childhood between the UK, US and the Middle East. Despite her international upbringing, her Arab roots have remained strong. “My maternal grandmother has always been a huge inspiration to me throughout my life. A true lady in every sense, she came of age in old-world Iraq before the revolution. At the time, Baghdad was one of the artistic and intellectual capitals of the Arab world; producing noted poets, painters and musicians. I spent hours listening to her stories,” recalls Raya. Leafing through a family album filled with sepia-tinted photographs taken during the reign of King Ghazi I, the 28-year-old points to her elegant grandmother posing in tailored 1930s suits and long column evening gowns. “She taught me some of my earliest lessons in style; always groomed to perfection with her twice-a-week salon-set waves. She favoured quality over trends and, even while wearing Saint Laurent, Dior or Valentino, she always maintained a classic look accessorised with an Hermès scarf or a big cocktail ring.”” Raya also credits another regional style icon with instilling a sense of pride in her. “I feel so fortunate to witness what is happening in Qatar first hand. There is a real sense of positive change and development touching all facets of society,” says Raya, who looks up to Qatar’s fashionable first lady Sheikha Mozah. “Her Highness has garnered a lot of attention and appreciation in recent years, and will go down in history as one of the great influential women of her time. Not only for her style and grace, but also for what she has done for women, culture and education in the region. She’s developed an ambitious vision for the Qatar Foundation, which is the engine behind the rebirth of the modern A ➤ 1960s emerald necklace and two-bracelet parure, price on request, Ciner at Raya Al-Khalifa private sales @RayaAlKhalifa. Earrings, Graff; panther ring, Cartier; gold, emerald and diamond ring, Graff; sunglasses, Miu Miu; cape, Ralph Lauren; dress, Cos; gloves, Harrods; turban, made from fabric sourced in Doha; fox fur collar; all Raya’s own
  3. 3. 56|Harper’s BAZAAR Arabia Qatar Special STYLEThe Dress, Roksanda Ilincic; belt, Urterque; coral and gold rings; hat, Eric Javits; orange scarf, Hermès; Serpenti watch, Bulgari; Collier de chien cuff, Hermès, all Raya’s own. Vintage earrings, QR2,730; vintage necklace, price on request, Valentino; both from Raya Al-Khalifa private sales @RayaAlKhalifa. Cushions and throw, Versace for H&M. Leopard cushion, Zara Home Abaya, Raya’s own design; Collier de chien cuff, Hermès; vintage shell clutch; shoes, Jimmy Choo; vintage watch and bracelet set on right hand, Versace; sunglasses, Versace; vintage earrings, Versace; vintage cuff on left arm, Chanel; panther ring, Cartier; all Raya’s own. Vintage belt worn as necklace, price on request, Chanel; vintage water bottle holder, price on request, Chanel; vintage panther bracelets, QR3,095, Ciner; all from Raya Al-Khalifa private sales @RayaAlKhalifa
  4. 4. 58|Harper’s BAZAAR Arabia Qatar Special Harper’s BAZAAR Arabia Qatar Special |59 STYLEThe a garment as well as the craftsmanship. Lately I’ve noticed a shift in attitude towards vintage, especially amongst a younger generation of fashion-forward women,” says Raya, who confides that her best source for vintage pieces remains her mother’s closet. Over the years she has unearthed stunning examples by Balenciaga and Dior, still in perfect condition, having been vacuum-sealed and labelled years ago. “I always hold onto pieces that were passed down to me, as I have a real appreciation for their beauty and history,” notes Raya, who has also been rediscovering vintage pieces from her own past. “Last year in Florida I found my old Versace gold medusa bracelets from the ’90s, safely tucked away and forgotten all these years. I don’t think they suited me as a tween, but I carry them off today far better than my 11-year-old self!” recalls Raya, who still regards couture as the ultimate fashion fantasy. “I have a deep respect for the art of haute couture. It is exactly that, an art, and I’m eager to see how a new generation of couturiers, from Giambattista Valli to Raf Simons at Dior, are updating this centuries-old craft. Some may see them as overly expensive clothes, but after listening to my grandmother and mother explain the awe-inspiring process of being fitted for a couture gown one begins to understand why it is so special. These trained seamstresses spend hundreds of hours to produce one-of-a-kind pieces, which is especially telling in an age when designer gowns are pumped fresh off the assembly line,” explained Raya. Sensing her daughter’s interest in fashion at a young age, Raya’s mother took her to the library to check out books on designers such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. The fruits of that early exposure are evident today in her personal library, filled with books on fashion, art, history and exhibits she’s visited over the years. “I’m not only interested in a designer’s latest collection, but also fashion history and how it influences the way we dress. Visiting museums is an intrinsic part of any travel experience for me, and some of my favourites include the Prado in Madrid and the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul,” she explains, noting that the Qatari capital has its own cultural gems such as the Museum of Islamic Art, one of her favourite cultural spots in Doha. Those close to Raya are not surprised that she will be launching her own vintage jewellery business this year. It is a passion inherited from her mother, whose Graff pieces from the 1970s and ’80s she had long coveted for their designs studded with corals, turquoise and onyx. “My great grandmother was Turkish and during her youth she spent time in Paris in the early 1900s. You can only imagine the beautiful baubles she amassed! My mother and I both shared this passion for vintage jewels, and would travel to specialised markets all over the world. Wake-up calls at 4am were not uncommon on these expeditions, but the rewards were worth it, as we discovered some rare and unique pieces,” says Raya, producing velvet-lined trays holding glittering examples of costume jewellery, the craftsmanship mirroring that of the real thing. “The collection includes examples by Ciner from the ’60s-’80s, which was a favourite of Elizabeth Taylor. Trifari’s head designer from the 1930s-50s was Alfred Philippe, who once worked for Van Clef & Arpels; while Marcel Boucher, who was a famed American costume jeweller in the 1950s, trained at Cartier. Kramer, another legendary name in the 1940s, went on to design pieces for Christian Dior,” explains Raya, who knows all there is to know about the history of each piece and the fashionable personalities who were customers as well. “Kenneth Jay Lane created bold and exotic pieces for regular clients such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis and the Duchess of Windsor. It’s that very history which attracts me to these pieces,” she adds. After years spent accumulating many of these pieces, Raya decided to cultivate a market and appreciation for vintage costume jewellery in the Middle East. “In the States it’s relatively easy to find like-minded people who are true connoisseurs and collectors of vintage costume jewellery from the last century. But I want to carve a niche here, and share my love and knowledge of these historic brands through a series of travelling trunk shows around the region,” says Raya, whose long term goal is to create a jewellery line inspired by her favourite vintage pieces. “Expect glistening crystal and gold ’40s-style buckle bracelets, and geometric deco designs,” she promises. ■ Kaftan, Marchesa; turban, material sourced from Doha fabric store; vintage turquoise earrings, Valentino; vintage rings; vintage fan, all Raya’s own. Vintage necklace, QR4,550; vintage bracelets on left arm, from QR1,640- QR4,370; vintage bracelet on right arm, price on request; all from Raya Al-Khalifa private sales @RayaAlKhalifa. Raya will be showcasing her vintage collection across the Gulf. Details of dates and locations will be posted on Twitter @RayaAlKhalifa. Make-up: Devi Mendez. Styling assistant: Chantal Mossess Boyajian. Photography assistants: Riham Fahed and Moustapha Siblini. With thanks to Sharq Village and Spa, Doha

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