Ads by Muslim Ad Network


No announcement yet.


No announcement yet.

New garb is tres sheik

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • New garb is tres sheik

    April 26, 2004

    Frida Dakiz has more to sell than a fresh slant on traditional Muslim dress, writes Michael Winkler.

    Fashion designer Frida Dakiz has a quixotic approach to commerce. "I don't care about money," she says. "Girls come into my shop and act stuck up; I won't sell to them. If someone wants to wear my clothing, they should have a great personality.

    "If there's some s-c-u-m thinking they're top dog wearing my clothes, I'd be embarrassed."

    So there. Dakiz describes herself as "feisty". She certainly doesn't mince words.

    Her shop, Frida Boutique, is at the Coburg end of Sydney Road and remains undiscovered by the trendies. She is trying to sell a new concept: traditional Muslim dress, which is also high-range fashion. Business has been steady rather than stunning in the first four months of operation, but she is planning to open a sister shop in Sydney next year.

    Many of her clothes are made from exquisite fabric imported from Japan and Italy. Dakiz does the designs and makes the patterns, and the pieces are manufactured locally. As a businesswoman, her challenge is to convince customers that her garments are worth paying a premium for.

    "You can go to Lebanon and buy a traditional dress for 15 bucks, but wash it once and it's destroyed. You see dresses from overseas and wonder if they've closed their eyes before they start cutting. I want Frida clothes to be so high quality I can sell to the Sheik of Saudi Arabia.

    "My clothes keep the traditional guidelines - you can't show the figure of your body; you only show your hands, feet and face - but modernise it and use different colours. I don't want to make it easier for someone to wear it. I just want them to look more gorgeous."

    At 27, she is impatient for success. "Everyone else can be famous. I should be allowed to be famous, too," she says.

    Dakiz grew up in Thornbury, the daughter of Lebanese migrants. At Northcote High school she was, "a bit of a terror, crazy, made a muck out of everything.

    "I must have been so annoying."

    As with her two older siblings, she was expected to support herself from the age of 14, paying her own school fees and buying her own clothes. At 15, she approached leading city restaurants Florentino and the Melbourne Oyster Bar and successfully offered to work for free through school holidays to gain experience. After leaving secondary school she became an apprentice chef at Marios in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

    "Then I was invited back to Florentino. I cooked for (Luciano) Pavarotti one night. He stayed and ate and drank until three in the morning, so we hated him because we wanted to go to bed."

    At 20, with a developing religious consciousness, the young woman who always dressed "grungy and wild" decided to wear a scarf. Things changed. "I'd never had trouble getting work, but suddenly I was going for jobs and missing out." She booked a ticket to the US without telling her parents. "In the end, I said 'hey, tomorrow I'm going to America, but they didn't believe me'. Parents, you've got to throw them in the deep end."

    She settled in Michigan, studied business management and computer programming, and got married. "He ended up being a bit of a pig. He wasn't very religious and I was becoming more religious. He was fresh off the plane from Lebanon and had this mentality that he didn't want to learn the Western way. He was jealous and conniving and evil and every word under the sun."

    So why did you marry him? "Oh, gee," she says, putting her hand over her eyes. "It was my first relationship. He was a bit of a sweet talker. He was illiterate and saw me as someone who could help him open a business. We had a mechanic's shop and car yard in Detroit. We started with $1000 and we built it up to be worth half-a-million dollars.

    "It was good, then it went bad. He stopped me doing a lot of things. He wouldn't let me talk to my family. He thought women were crap. I saw the way his father treats his mother - he'd bash her right in front of me, bust her face up. One day, I thought, 'I've got to get the hell out of here'. I packed one bag and left. Let them have the money. I can make money any time, but my life doesn't come that easy."

    Her five years in the US included September 11, but she claims the repercussions were less traumatic for a Muslim in Michigan than Melbourne.

    "American people were saying, 'we know our Government was part of this. It didn't happen because people were Muslims; it happened because of oil, money and greed'. Then I came back to Australia and someone was road-raging me off the street. In a Brunswick Street cafe, people were looking at me like I was some alien with three eyes. It was weird."

    This sense of alienation from the mainstream encouraged her to open Frida Boutique. "Islamic women come in and even if they don't buy anything, I give them inspiration. The dressing rooms are huge; we wrap the dresses in paper - they (the women) feel they're special. They get the treatment they don't get in big city stores."

    However, she says she sells many clothes to non-Islamic women. "They get beautiful clothes and an education, too. Peace-workers going to Arabic countries, for example, come in and ask me what to wear and how to wear it. It's grouse.

    "Our religion is basically an instruction booklet for life. It gives me peace, harmony, patience. People say Islam is no good for women, but it's totally the opposite. Women have more rights than men do. People get confused by cultural things, which are different to religious things."

    Her cat is called Carlo, after Frida Kahlo. "In my language, Frida means sacrifice. I love Frida Kahlo because she was unique, like me, and unique is what Frida means in Latin."
    URGENT!!! your help is badly needed - fundraising for marriage


Edit this module to specify a template to display.