For many Omani designers, the country's culture, customs and history are an integral part of their identity which is why many of them have combined old and modern design in one piece creating styles that are not just unique but also have global appeal.

From old, storied patterns to beautiful organic textiles only produced locally, the result of these creations are designs that also have a touch of Omani identity.

“Our clothes are a source of non-verbal communication which send messages about who we are, where we come from, what we do etc. Overall, fashion is a way of expressing ourselves through our clothing and accessories," said Khawla Abdullah, 28, one of Oman's emerging talented designers who is trying to showcase the appeal of Omani designs.

Launching the fashion line Blanca in 2019, the fashion house's aesthetic is a mix of passion and art expression that is partly rooted in Oman's authentic past and culture but with the modern nuances that connect it to a fast-changing world.

Khawla chose the name “Blanca”, which is Spanish in origin for her fashion brand. For her, this Spanish female name carries many meanings, and mainly it represents the frank, generous, cheerful, and creative woman with good and kind intentions. The name is musical and carries an inner influence on people.

Khawla also explained that the fashion line Blanca is charming, lively, feminine, and is created for the sensitive but empowered woman. A 'Blanca woman" has an intuitive sense and a special imagination. She has only one goal in life: is to be her own version alpha type because she is ambitious, friendly, generous, and very strong. Overall, the wearer of the line is modern and very classy.

When Khawla envisioned Blanca, she wanted it to provided clothing and accessories that spoke of passion and art.

“I believe one should either be an artist or wear something created by art,” she said.

"Historically, fashion has rarely been elevated to the same stature as painting, music, sculpture, or architecture. But fashion is one of the purest expressions of art because it is art that is experienced daily. It’s a beautiful form of creative expression mixed with passion and desire carried out by the designer and specially made for canvassed bodies," she said.

"The main goal of Blanca designs is to support and enhance the national identity and the national heritage for all fashion lovers. I always design for women who are proud of their identity. my team and I make sure that our designs represent the identity of the customer in a contemporary and feminine way," she said.

She added, "Blanca is considered a more artistry brand than a fashion brand because we merge Omani heritage and environmental elements artistically in our designs using shiny threads and beads. we are proud of what we have achieved so far and looking forward to a brighter future in modest women's wear."

"My dream is to create a well-known brand worldwide and to start my own fabrics factory. so far, I have noticed acceptance of my designs from all women in my country and gulf countries and that gave me a push to give more and think outside the box”, she clarified. One of Khawla’s happiest moments is when she goes out and randomly notice women wearing her designs.

"Midas is my favourite piece, I worked hard on sketching the embroidery, I have been inspired by the craving of Omani mandoos and I tried to showcase the geometric artwork beautifully on fabric.

Asked about the inspiration behind the brand, Khawla shared, “I was born in Sharqiyah North region and I was raised by powerful women. My mother has always been my biggest inspiration in fashion. She wears beautiful Omani clothes which are threaded beautifully in gold zari and flowery aesthetics. She taught me how to create fine garments for my dolls growing up and my grandmother taught me how to stitch using wool. My family has encouraged me to start up my own brand and my friends supported me all the way", she narrated.

Khawla said that other than staying "in fashion," cultural forces and social factors are part and parcel of the Omani fashion industry but that for one to succeed, "the most important factor is the support that the designer gets from his friends and family." She said that if she has the community support behind her, it is for them to be confident and create something which comes naturally to them.

She also explained, "I’ve studied Oman weather, plants, mountains and went deeply on arabesque art in our forts and ancient houses. our beloved Oman is rich in cultural art and heritage. I discover something new every day. Omani traditional clothing has been always my biggest inspiration; also I am inspired mostly by the cravings on Omani khanjar and the Mandos.”

Blanca was established in 2019 after an intensive study of the market needs, acceptance of the project idea. Khawla and her team started online, and they are looking forward to opening their own shop after the pandemic is over.

Although her field of study (logistics and transport management) is far away from her current career choice, Khawla praises the role of her family and friends in encouraging her to launch her own fashion brand when they noticed that she had a good creativity in fashion.

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