Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World- Iraq & Saudi Arabia
All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.
(dress on the left in foreground)
In 1904, a Catholic Iraqi from the city of Mosul created this dress for her own wedding. She chose a style typical of Ottoman-era fashion, one that has since disappeared. The gown is made predominantly of a handmade, gossamer-like silk called jeld al-malayka (angel skin), now produced only very rarely. It is pleated in several areas with decorative lace known as dantel (from the French dentelle) and is so delicate that the bride spent almost a full day ironing it. Sh wore the dress with gold accessories, as Christians in Mosul traditionally preferred gold to gemstones for personal adornment.
The Hijaz region along the Red Seais home to the oldest cosmopolitan centers of Saudi Arabia. Traders and pilgrims passed through this area (which includeMakkah and Madinah) for centuries, and contact with so many cultures resulted in remarkably beautiful local costumes that are more delicate than those found elsewhere in the Kingdom. The spectacular zibun worn by Hijazi brides is unlike any other Arabian garment. A high-necked, fitted gown, it has elbow-length sleeves and buttons down the front. A large square of fine muslin, sprinkled with small gold flowers, covers the head and flows over the gown down to the floor. The outfit is completed by matching serwal (pantaloons) and a diaphanous thoub (over dress). The particular dress, made of chiffon, silk and voile, dates from the late 1970s. It replicates a style worn for more than 150 years in this region.