AMMAN, JORDAN: The Arab Spring was all about vibrant colors, fabulous youth, and self-expression; a cheeky, even rebellious look that screamed, ‘Out with the old, in with the bold!’ But while the calendar may still say Spring, political fashion never stands still. We asked top these political designers from the leading houses to give us the scoop on the upcoming ‘Arab Summer’ look. Word of caution: While the Arab Spring was very Benetton, Arab Summer may feel more like Ann Taylor. Sacreblech!
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (Saudi Arabia) – House of Saud
Oh goodness, ‘Arab Spring’ is sooo last season. Arab Summer will be très différentes. For one, it will be hot … Get it? It’s Arab Summer! It’s always hot! … You must laugh. I am king. No, for me, the Arab Spring line has sprung a leak. It’s run its course. I know. Sad face. That revolutionary, l’enfant terrible vibe will be outre! Instead I would like to see a return to traditional, monotone, enforced stability. I’m going to use the word ‘Dowdy.’ But I’m spelling it ‘Doubty.’ My subjects won’t be sure what they should be seen in, or who with. So less dreamy, more regimey.
Sultan Qaboos Bin Said (Oman) – House of Al Bu Sa’idi
Well, you know your President Obama — or as we call him, President Obamadorable — was criticized for jumping into the ‘Arab Spring’ thing too late, and I agree totalitarily. That party is over. And it was such a loud party. Just a gaudy explosion. I could not think straight. But trust your Sulty here, it was just a fad. Like hot pants or low oil prices. We’re going traditional again. That’s why I say for Arab Summer the look is less shouty and more pouty. People will sport more of the ‘But you promised…” look. Resigned disappointment, is how I’d categorize it; very much a, ‘We fought for this?’ sulk. No more draped-in-flags. Back to draped-in-rags.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (Egypt) – House of Military Rule
Oh my God, I found Arab Spring just so mischievous, even, dare I say it, naughty?! Everyone I went, people sported that dangerous, ‘Come and get me’ look. Threatening. Very ‘Malcolm X in the City.’ For Arab Summer, I sense more muted, repressive tones. More a throwback, 1950s feel. Think Abdul Nasser — patriotic, but at the same time despotic. I’m thinking the uniform look will be back. Khakis and camouflage. Everywhere. Day and night. The catchphrase will be ‘Repress for Success.’
Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah (Kuwait) – House of al-Sabah
Traditionally, the Arab zeitgeist had been all about restrictive. That changed with Arab Spring. Suddenly it all went from tighty noosey to loosey goosey, very throw-off-the-shackles-they-don’t-match-my-oeuvre’. You even had these disparate groups uniting. It was tres young, multi-cultural. But, honey, now I think the grown-up look will return. More serious. If the Arab Spring was ‘Benetton.’ Arab Summer will be more ‘Ann Taylor.’ I know that seems a step backward. Or four. But personally it’ll have me singing Ave Sharia!
Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (Bahrain) – House of Khalifa
To me Arab Spring was a carefree trend, like the overthrow. It was so spontaneous, like ‘I don’t care what my government looks like, let’s just throw on any damn thing.’ It was an ‘out-with-the-old’ atmosphere. But of course most of that so-called old stuff doesn’t get thrown away. It’s like chiffon or lace doilies. Always comes back. So I think in most cases you’ll see the Arabs take that old look and dress it up a bit. Still restrictive and stifling, but just a hint of the new. Maybe a little off-the-shoulder, a soupçon of freedom. Perfumes will be muted too. Nothing overthrowing. Maybe just the slightest hint of democracy. But not so much that you turn heads or attract undue official attention.
King Abdullah II (Jordan) – House of Hashemite
Oh my god, the Arab Summer will be all about drab, drab, drab. Honestly. It’ll be a total backlash against the crazy, sun-filled, gun-filled Arab Spring look. I really see the older generations stamping their influence on the Arab Summer. I see a lot of patient, unexciting sand-colors. That whole shifting sands of time thing. Slow moving. More buttons, fewer zippers. And forget the running shoes. They’ll go back in the closet next to the Jellies. Instead, the new footwear will be what I call Plod-Wear. Every step will seem painfully slow. Like walking up a hill you thought you had already gone up.
King Muhammad VI (Morocco) – House of Alaoui
For Arab Spring we saw that style vs. substance debate turned on its head. So serious! So substantive! People knew what they wanted and weren’t afraid to wear it on their sleeves. Until someone started shooting at their sleeves. Arab Summer will have its own style, but it won’t be comfy. I think it’s a transitional period, like the early 1980s in America. You had the 60s and 70s where the fashion was wild and radical and all over the place. Nehru jackets and thigh boots? The BeeGees and Jimi Hendrix? Gag reflex! That couldn’t last, obviously. So then you had the conservative Reagan 80s. Very retro. Very hangover. Very ‘Whoa, what the hell did we just do?’ Courtesy (SatireWire.com)
- WEEKLY: The Arab Spring’s Balance Sheet (project-syndicate.org)
- The Arab Spring: separating fact from fiction (japantimes.co.jp)
- The Arab Spring: A Year Of Revolution (npr.org)