Celebrating Saudi’s Heritage Fashion

In 2019 the Fashion Commission hosted an exhibition called The Hidden Kaleidoscope. The Hidden Kaleidoscope was a visual walk-through of Saudi bridal wedding styles; both historical and modern. Traditional wedding pieces drawn from the extensive archives of the Art of Heritage Trust collection, are combined with contemporary couture fashion that, for the first time, show the unbroken continuity across the regions’ clothing traditions as worn by women during wedding rituals. The historic capsule collection includes bridal garments distinct to communities across the five regions of the Kingdom. The couture section offers a never-before-seen look into the wardrobes of the women of Saudi Arabia, who were dressed by the most coveted European fashion houses of the 1980s, several of whom were particularly inspired by Saudi styles. The examples on display showed the clear change in style as one travels across the different regions of the Kingdom, with variations coming not just by way of colour, cut, fabric and embroidery, but also in the vision of clearly evolved and distinct styles. Seen here are a wide variety of textiles, sourced from several communities and referencing other social indicators, with a continuum of wedding garments from the early decades of the 20th century to the present day. While some garments were used on the wedding day itself, others were used during associated wedding rituals. The difference in the choice of materials reflects the wide range of communities and socio-economic groups represented in this exhibition.