At the main entrance of the showroom, the core team of Naelofar arrive, along with the lady herself, Neelofa. This marks Day One of the most important collaboration between ALIA B. and Naelofar. A soundtrack of Baroque strings echo through the Atelier’s Main Hall. In the centre of the room sits an expansive table laid with a full sensory ‘mood board’ – swatches of fabric, a careful curation of works from the Art Nouveau era that include architecture and art with its female icons, and trinkets like jewellery boxes and vases. The sensory experience immediately paints a clear picture for the key inspiration of the collaborative collection.
Immersed in an Art Nouveau mindset with its richness, the Naelofar team are instantly taken in by the cultural vibrancy. The core aesthetic of Art Nouveau perfectly complements the design DNA of the two brands – Naelofar’s modest femininity for the modern woman, and Alia’s sophisticated sensuality.
Fresh flowers complement the clothes on the models – white to cream tones with bursts of colour, and lace on clean silhouettes that swoon with romanticism and beauty. Alia introduces each look to Neelofa, who curiously inspects them with close attention to detail, clearly with a knowledge and love for fashion and design.
A curation of works from the Art Nouveau era that influences the ALIA B. X Naelofar collaboration.
The collection went through rigorous design developments to ensure it would be apt for a much wider appeal. Alia and her design team respectfully met requirements for the modest touch, while at the same time allowing all women – hijab and non-hijab – to own any look and for them to showcase their individual styles.
In the end, the complete collection is a harmonious synergy between Alia and Neelofa, with a new, unique versatility for ALIA B. and a refreshed sense of femininity for Naelofar.
A visual board of the ALIA B. X Naelofar Raya 2021 collection.
Colours play an important role in the collection with a palette that balances high saturation with earthy neutrals, which are key in Art Nouveau. An array of soft tones focuses in on finer details while grounding the spirited colours of the collection, such as the sapphire flowers set against white lace on a clean, column cut – this look creates an impression of lavish Ming porcelains (orientalism being an essential part of Art Nouveau). Jewel tones play along the affluence of the era with cobalt blue being a standout in the collection palette, while high-sheen gold reimagines the iconic sculptures of Nouveau goddesses.
Women were a central figure in the artistic movement, with fairies and sirens luxuriously wrapped in lengths of cloth. In the ALIA B. X Naelofar Raya 2021 collection, femininity is a clear influence in the graceful drapes of fabric and delicate cuts that place the female silhouette at utmost importance. Without explicitly showing off, sashes and belts lightly cinch the waist, while soft flowing satin leaves a sweet memory behind at her every step. Essentially, the women of Art Nouveau represented strength and freedom, all while ultimately standing proud with their femininity.
Romanticism was necessary in Alia and Neelofa’s creative process. “The looks needed to be romantic,” says Neelofa warmly, “while still reflecting who I am as a woman today. The collection should beam with brave optimism and love.”
Romanticism in Art Nouveau was also about bringing new ideas to timeless classics – this is seen in details such as the puff shoulders, bishop sleeves and pussybow neckline which now become fashion-forward elements. Pearl accents, although they are seen as fine details, become pleasant surprises on draped cuffs and as functional fasteners.
When creating each look, it was important for the design to be inspirational. “I treated every design like it’s a work of art, so to speak,” Alia adds, “but without overdoing it because I wanted these looks to be versatile – fashion and garments need to have a certain versatility to them.”
Ensuring variation in the collection line-up, there are day looks that are light and appropriate for the tropics. A series of ensembles with sarong skirts have always been integral in every ALIA B. Raya collection and in a range of pastel shades that include dusty pink, greys and mint. There are also looks that are made for the evening specifically in mind, like the deep navy and maroon co-ords, both in richly textured fabric choices.
These are all looks put together for the modern woman – adaptable combinations that can go from day to night. Instead of overpowering personal style, each look acts as a canvas for individuality; allowing all personalities to shine through.
Truly, the ALIA B. X Naelofar Raya 2021 collection is a complete collection for women, by women.
The ALIA B. X Naelofar Raya 2021 collection will be available from March 8th on: alia-b.com
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