DOHA: Qela, Qatar’s first luxury fashion brand, launched by the Qatar Luxury Group (QLG) last week with the opening of its flagship boutique at the Pearl Qatar, marks the country’s position as a contender on the global fashion scene.
“With the launch of Qela, QLG has announced its arrival on the world stage,” said Haya Al Nassr, Managing Director and Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors.
“For the first time, Qatar has a homegrown, high-end fashion brand which will stand at the forefront of the most prestigious luxury brands and alongside the designs of the elite fashion houses of Paris, Milan, New York and London.”
Stressing Qela’s local roots, QLG Board Director Sheikh Ahmed bin Khalid said: “Qela’s refined collection is designed by globally renowned craftsmen based in Qatar. In time, locally-based aspiring fashion designers will have the opportunity to develop their talents in the company of world-leading practitioners in the art of clothes design. This ambition is integral to the ethos of Qatar Luxury Group.”
The boutique, enclosed behind a delicate Mashrabiya façade, perfectly exemplifies the brand’s philosophy of discretion and modesty.
The Mashrabiya, a type of projecting oriel window, is an element of traditional Arabian architecture. It allows a person to look out without being seen, symbolic of the refined modesty of the understated woman at the heart of Qela.
“The boutique is a homely and intimate place where guests can feel relaxed, allowing for the discovery and appreciation of exquisite craftsmanship and art,” said Gregory Couillard, Chief Executive Officer, QLG.
“Elements such as Qatari artist Ali Hassan’s exhibit and the mapping showcase will remain significant aspects of not only this boutique but future ones too, as they enrich the entire brand experience.”
The inaugural Qela couture collection embodies sophisticated and simple lines inspired from the muted tones of the desert, while the footwear range bears its signature silver dune detail, and the jewellery is inspired by sand dunes and the Qatari desert rose; all enduring symbols of the Qela brand.
However, it is the superior craftsmanship of the unique designs that promises to propel Qela to global heights. With the next boutique due to open in Paris, the ‘Made in Qatar’ stamp will soon be carried worldwide.
Doha-based designers ensure that handbag prototypes are made to perfection prior to production at Le Tanneur, one of France’s oldest leather goods maker, recently acquired by QLG.
Through Qela, homegrown designers are now able to hone their craft on their doorstep. Fashion students from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, part of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, are interning at Qela’s leather goods and couture departments, where they are learning to cut and stitch leather and other precious materials. They are learning from the very best.
Qela’s designers make up a cosmopolitan team of elite talent, cherry-picked from the world’s leading fashion houses, to absorb the fluidity of the desert landscape and the richness of the culture, and translate it into luxury fashion.
“What is exceptional for me is the ability to work with the superior craftsmen and materials, and the dynamism of the international team, reflecting the nature of Qatar,” said Valery Bolliger, Qela shoes and accessories designer.
“Qela’s first collection was a process of discovery. We studied the region and Qatar’s heritage, and the imagery used to communicate its values, which enabled us to understand the country and create our own interpretation of it.”
The opening of the flagship boutique, attended by a handpicked selection of trailblazing trendsetters, was preceded by a 3D mapping video showcase, the first to be held indoors in Qatar. The assembled fashionistas heaped praise on the store and its collection.
“For a new luxury brand coming from a country that has never had a luxury industry, Qela is truly amazing,” said Evelyne de Croutte, a Doha resident present at the opening. “This means that Qatar is positioning itself as a contender on the global fashion scene, which is huge.”
“The boutique is beautiful, well finished and tasteful,” said Laurence Udo, another Doha resident. “I’m French and my taste is quite classic, reflective of simple elegance, so for me Qela represents that, and if I could, I would buy everything and definitely wear it all.”
Indeed, for any fashion fan with the wherewithal to wear it all, Qela looks set to become an essential stop on every high-end shopping trip.
Qatar Foundation contributes through QLG to the diversification of the national economy by maximising skills of the nation’s knowledge-based workforce. With long-term thinking and a commitment to excellence, QLG is unlocking local and regional talent on a global level.