Keeping up with the latest fashion trends in the luxurious city of Doha is not as expensive as it seems – if you can discover the secret…
Together with an obsession with food and family, a passion and taste for fashion is a cliche that defines Italian people throughout the world. I am not an exception; I love fashion and to compensate for missing my weekly shopping with friends I spend hours sighing while watching Fashion TV.
When I moved from Italy to Qatar I felt I was almost obliged to be stylish: many people asked us why, as Italians, we didn’t drive a Ferrari – I was afraid they were going to ask me why I didn’t wear Valentino!
I would deeply love to, but unfortunately Italian National Social and Health Services don’t provide its citizens with Valentino clothes and Ferrari cars together with compulsory vaccinations. Besides, I feel a little uncomfortable about spending a massive slice of my salary on one skirt. I should free myself from this stupid inhibition but sometimes, from the very back of my mind, I hear a whispering voice telling me something about people starving somewhere in the world and for some reason I start feeling ashamed of even considering the idea of spending that amount of money on a single skirt.
Luckily in Doha there are different ways to follow fashion trends without spending a ridiculous amount of money.
In the malls, for example, you just have to take a look at both haute couture and commercial brands in shops windows to realize that they feature the same shapes and patterns.
This summer is all about colors and it really looks like we are back in the eighties! Gucci’s summer collection features large trousers and wide jackets in shiny green, bright purple and coral orange, but a pair of trousers costs 580 Euro (as stated on Gucci’s official website). Yes, it’s Gucci and your trousers will be perfect forever, but fashion may change, so if you want to take a lesser risk, just walk away from the Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele’s-style square of the Villaggio mall and head back to the lower key alleys.
H&M features exactly the same green stiletto sandals with golden heels as Gucci for one twentieth of the price. You can complete the look at Mango and Miss Selfridge, where you will find a nice range of Gucci-like dresses in coral orange, emerald green and purple, and a wide choice of Prada-esque striped dresses. Or if you prefer Dolce & Gabbana’s flowery summer collection just pop into H&M again or into Zara or Bershka and you will be overwhelmed by flowers!
The quality is not, of course, on the same level, and it’s more than likely that you will find someone hanging out right next to you at the café’ wearing the same dress.
But if you want to dress in the latest fashions and be original, the streets of Doha have the solution for you, a secret silently transmitted from woman to woman: tailors.
Most of Doha’s popular streets, such as Al Nasr Street and Al Sadd Street for example, are sprinkled with tailors. And the shops in the Souqs sell a surprising variety of the most stunning fabrics; from eighties style lurex to vintage patterns, to designer silks. You just have to gather some initiative, choose your design, choose your fabric and bring it to the tailor.
You can take your friends’ advice, all women in Doha have a trusted tailor and of course, everyone is the best one!
Or you can do as I did, just walk the streets and duck into the tailor’s shop that inspires you the most.
The one I chose inspired me with the huge rack of long, glimmering, multi-coloured party dresses in the window, clashing with the dirty broken steps and the glass door fixed with Sellotape. Inside there was no sign of order: remnants stacked everywhere, open scissors abandoned here and there, shirts and skirts hanging from the ceiling, fat women walking in, boldly ignoring the queue and buying a number of huge dresses without even trying them on. Maybe because they knew that fixing them to suit their shape wouldn’t cost a fortune. Through the doors I could see a big room where a number of men surrounded by all sorts of fabrics were cutting and sewing and ironing, apparently without any rush. Definitely the kind of eclecticism I was looking for.
When one of the tailors in the shop finally decided to listen to me, I showed him my pretty rough drawing and my super eighties lurex fabric and demanded that he created my original piece.
I forgot that men here are not very keen on touching your body in public (I know it will sound odd to a Western ear), but somehow I got him to measure me. Approximately.
I needed to pay the tailor’s shop two more visits to get my creation made exactly how I imagined it (or rather, something very close to my idea), but on my third visit I got my unique eighties style lurex blouse, for 100 Qatari Ryals (more or less 20 Euros) including the fabric and the tailor’s work!
There is one side effect: it may become addictive.