She plans her trips in pearl necklaces, full skirts, and lace gloves. After observing her grandmother’s style for years, her eye for vintage developed to make her a regional expert.
Maha Abdul Rasheed is a fashion designer that has brought back an era of glamour and sophistication. From off-shoulder lace gowns to statement bows and mid-length organza skirts, Rasheed’s aesthetic is a brilliant mix of beauty, fashion, and extravaganza.
Bambah Boutique is Rasheed’s unconventional shop for rare finds and vintage-inspired gowns. The Dubai-based shop has a nice, warm, and cosy environment where customers are friends. The shop serves tea, cake, and one-off pieces that can effortlessly revolutionise an entire wardrobe.
Daily News Egypt sat down with with Rasheed to learn more about her fashion initiative, her love for the good-old times, and her future expansion plans in her homeland: Egypt.
Tell us more about the main concept behind Bambah Boutique.
Bambah RTW focuses on creating feminine clothing with soft rounded shapes and full flowing skirts to bring back old-school beauty. The label pays homage to the 1950s silhouettes while using decedent fabrics and extravagant layering to maintain beautiful hourglass shapes.
The Bambah silhouette focuses on perpetuating the hourglass shape using icons such as Grace Kelly, Soad Hosny, and Sophia Loren to inspire and influence the signature look.
I started Bambah over four years ago, positioning it as the first vintage boutique in the UAE. Tucked away in a cosy villa on Dubai’s picturesque Jumeirah Beach Road, we opened our doors with a strong desire to introduce vintage fashion to Dubai’s fashion-savvy crowd. The enthusiastic response that I received inspired my interest in designing and pushed me towards establishing my own ready-to-wear line.
After travelling the world searching for the best vintage finds and introducing myself to the world of fashion design, I decided to take the initiative and launch my own vintage-inspired ready-to-wear collection. I started creating feminine clothing with the intention of bringing back the elegance of previous eras.
I wanted to introduce a modern twist on vintage-inspired styles and provide an affordable evening wear line with an emphasis on excellent craftsmanship, elegant prints, and unique and luxurious embroidery.
Why did you choose to embrace a vintage theme?
I have always had a passion for vintage. I have been a collector for almost 11 years now, and I am always travelling the world and searching for unique one-off pieces that you are unlikely to find in conventional shopping areas. I would always go through my mother and grandmother’s pictures from the old days and long for their styles and fashion.
Furthermore, growing up with my grandmother, who continuously inspired me, I learned that style comes from within and is a pure reflection of one’s inner beauty. I would always go through her and long for her pearls and top-handle bags, gloves, hats, and all the exquisite pieces that she used to wear. When I first opened Bambah, she gave me the jewellery set that she wore on her wedding night.
I personally believe that vintage is about your personal style and how you wear it. It is so versatile and there are simply no rules on how to wear it. It is all about how you integrate the vintage pieces in your outfit. Vintage allows you to have fun with the piece and tailor it to fit your own personality.
How would you define your target audience?
My customer is the ultra-chic and modern Middle Eastern woman. She is very confident, has very fine taste, follows and sets the latest trends, and appreciates good craftsmanship as well as high-quality pieces.
She is stylish, glamorous, and admires beauty. She loves to dress up and experiment with fashion, and what she wears is a reflection of who she is. She loves to laugh, have fun, and enjoy life.
How much exposure does “vintage/retro” require in the Middle East?
As fashion tilts towards past generations for inspiration, the timeless and classy looks inspired by the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O, and Marilyn Monroe have become a modern-day look once again. The rRed carpet is now a showcase of vintage glamour as well, with celebrities like Sienna Miller, Rachel Zoe, and Julia Roberts demonstrating how gorgeous second-time fashion can be.
There seems to be a strong need for specialty boutiques that offer personalised attention and one-off pieces, as well as a pleasant and fun shopping experience. My customers have repeatedly described Bambah as “very refreshing”, serving as a nice change from traditional malls.
In addition, people are constantly on the lookout for unique and exclusive pieces that complement their style and personality with a guarantee that no one else will be wearing the same garment.
Although the vintage industry is relatively new in Dubai and the region, people have responded very positively to Bambah. Our customers have come to realise that contemporary styles are no longer the ultimate source of fashion satisfaction.
Over the years, my boutique won a few awards including the Best Boutique award. Meanwhile, I was awarded with the Emirates Woman of the Year award as part of the visionary category for bringing such a unique concept to Dubai.
In your opinion, what is the ultimate fashion investment that can live past trends and time?
I personally highly treasure a 1950s Nina Ricci gown. It’s a strapless velvet dress with a pastel bow on the bust. I also like that it is mid-calf, which makes it versatile and easy to wear.
Which era is your favourite and what trends do you always aim to revive?
The 1950s fascinate me. I love the femininity of the era: the nipped-in waists, full-circle skirts, and the fashion etiquette that ladies carried.
Why did you choose to focus on the Egyptian market now?
Being Egyptian and coming from my Egyptian background, I have always had it on my radar. Although I have never really lived there, I have always been drawn to its authenticity and buzzing atmosphere.
I love the chaos of the city, all the different landscapes and escape resorts. There is so much history and hidden treasures that can take you on a wonderful adventure. The overall attitude is very positive, and the country is so colourful and full of beautiful, confident women that dress to express themselves.
What are your plans in Egypt for the coming period?
We are currently working on generating more exposure regarding Bambah in the Egyptian community. Moreover, we are spending a lot of time interacting with our target audience to better understand their personal interests. Eventually, we would love to setup a flagship store in Cairo.