Baheya: Reviving the Egyptian galabeya

Marwa Raaffat , Tuesday 30 Nov 2010

Up-and-coming fashion designer Randa Haggag recently launched her new line, Baheya.

Baheya designs

Up-and-coming fashion designer Randa Haggag recently launched her new fashion line, Baheya. Haggag had previously worked in the fashion industry, managing world-renowned lifestyle and fashion brands such as the Gap and Banana Republic. With her extensive experience in branding for a diverse portfolio of products, Haggag has marketing prowess that spans a variety of sectors, such as telecoms, oil and gas and soft drinks.

Haggag received an MBA from the Maastricht School of Management and is a graduate of the American University in Cairo's business department. Haggag's Baheya is based on the  character of the same name played by the serious Mohsena Tawfik in Youssef Chahine's movie, Al-Asfour (The Sparrow).

In her fashion line, Haggag worked on the textures, colors, materials and prints of the galabeya in order to create a modern prêt-a-porter line of clothing that is both light and very comfortable. “The word 'Baheya' to me embodies beauty and radiance, and that is what Egyptian fashion should be about," says Haggag. "I have strived to strike a balance between modernity and our identity as Egyptians whose national dress is the loose, fluffy galabeya, and this can easily be noticed in my designs.”

Haggag claims that the drive behind her collection was her sense that fashion in Egypt had become stagnant and was in need of revitalization. Through her Baheya collection, she is trying to achieve this coveted fashion reawakening.

“Because the customers in my mind are very individualistic and proud to be Egyptian, I have ensured that when they wear these clothes this is what they will feel," says Haggag, "I have used several contrasts in the fabrics, colors and design to enable those who wear Baheya to stand out in a subtle and romantic manner, because this is what the fellaha who wears the galabeya represents to me."

Haggag explains that Baheya is designed for women who are comfortable with their own body and personality, and are self-expressive in their aura and sense of dress. The line targets women who are interested in culture and art and have a sense of elegance that is approachable and very friendly. Haggeg is herself a trend-setter wherever she goes, and dedicates ample time to the task of picking out her clothes. Her line is also accessible because it is a brand that is about sincerity and honesty, and by doing so, is not unlike the Egyptian fellaha, who is typically joyful, altruistic, real, trustworthy and tender.

Baheya's 2011 Fall/Winter collection is inspired by the north Sinai capital of El Arish. It was assembled and constructed in an effort to renovate the look of the dress and to make the dress more modern and wearable, taking into consideration  current international fashion. The collection is all in black and navy blue, and offers a dress, a hooded wrapper, a jacket and a top. All items are made of thin Italian wool and were hand embroidered at Bir El Abd (Najila village), which is 100km away from El Arish. Bedouin women have done the hand cross stitching. Only the blouses are made of rare Egyptian ikhmim silk, which comes from Assiut in Upper Egypt. They were inspired by the blouses worn by bedouin women under their black embroidered dresses.

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