The most expensive dress in the world was released on March 19 and attracted worldwide media coverage. Debbie Wingham's diamond studded abbaya is the talk of Hollywood at $17m.
Designers such as Hermes, Aramis, Estée Lauder are the latest in-line of those to be inspired by Arabian inspiration and targeting Muslim markets. See Aramis - Calligraphy, or Christian Lacroix who have been integrating Arabic inspiration into the latest collections. We heard they are intrigued by the emphasis given to the design rather than the body of the woman. In many ways this isn't dissimilar to the fashion of the old traditional English days where the body of the dress played a more important role than the body of the woman.
We are also seeing a new generation of highly-talented designers such as Elie Saab, Robert Abi Nader Abed Mahfouz, Walid Attalah, Essa from the UAE and others who continue to impress the international fashion world with their fusion of modern and Muslim-inspired elements into their ensembles. They are now the pieces of choice for celebrities with virtually every celebrity now owning an 'Elie Saab', it's harder to think of one who doesn't have an 'Elie Saab'.
Each of the new creative works is reflective of the transition from plain and simple Arabic designs to more sophisticated creations that extensively use embroidered elements.
But it's not just great designers who are making it to market, it's the people and service industry behind this market that is going viral. Support services from Fashion incubators to Fashion Shows are going viral.
Haute Arabia, the fashion incubator, a membership based platform for promoting emerging designers and innovation in fashion with a social conscience may be the beginning but many incubation initiatives are commencing across the World - from Al Roudha Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Qatar) to the Hijab Fashion Week (October 22-27, 2013) (London) to Moscow Fashion Show (Islamic Style) (June 13-17, 2013).
To those who disregard this as a passing trend and who believe the couture houses who have shown an interest in this industry are just 'testing a new market' - the facts tell a different story. If you're wondering isn't this whole Islamic inspired, modest and conservative, Muslim consumer just some small niche market? Note - Major misconception. The Muslim consumer alone - taking out only the countries who might also have preferences for Arabian or Islamic inspired design is no-longer off the mainstream.
The Muslim fashion industry is estimated to be worth $96 billion and is rapidly growing. The fuel behind this growth is a generation of young, confident, tech-savvy-more importantly-product conscious Muslims, who are embracing their faith and confidence. This awakening by Muslim consumers has certainly lifted the markets as we have seen an increase in young entrepreneurs catering for this demand. This is not sector specific but the fashion industry is one major Muslim consumer market of many in which we are seeing high-innovation and exponential growth.
The surge in female designers and female entrepreneurship campaigns is testament to a community of Muslims who understand the power of women in business. Women are finding a way out to market and I don't think fashion will be where it will stop. Entrepreneurship and women entrepreneurship is the heart of Islamic heritage.
When we consider broader market interest from other countries including Israel and mainstream celebrities many of whom have been recently featured in many of the more modest trends from turbans to kaftans we can consider this market as much greater than figures suggest.
Fast Facts on the "Muslim Fashion Industry"
At Haute Arabia we know this is a transformation of the global fashion landscape and a trend that is here to stay.
We will engage, capture, inspire and lead our members to create their own brand, or support emerging brands. Simultaneously our platform will save all that trawling through the web for inspiration or modest luxury fashion - it will be in one place, Haute Arabia.
Follow Haute Arabia on this journey to the mainstream.
Follow Romanna Bint-Abubaker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/qatarvc