Donning chic neck-to-toe abayas, models saunter in high heels around a swimming pool in a glitter-filled fashion show staged in the unlikeliest of places: Saudi Arabia.
Haute couture displays are rare in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom and have usually been restricted to women or avoided female models altogether — one even displayed dresses dangling from drones.
But a private event in Riyadh last weekend — which showcased a new collection of abayas, a billowy, figure-concealing robe — opened up to a small but mixed-gender audience at a time when social restrictions are slowly being eased in the country.
Draped in shimmering embellishments, half a dozen models, most of them Saudi or of Saudi origin, displayed the collection that sought to redefine the abaya as a stylish overcoat suitable not just for Muslims but for women everywhere.
“The stigma around the abaya and the hijab around the world — I