Monday, March 9, 2009

Brides of the Arab World Exhibit

This Sunday I went with a fashion-loving friend to see the Brides of the Arab World exhibit at the Kennedy Center, part of their "Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World" festival taking place through the 15th. Luckily, photography was permitted, so I got to be a shutterbug.
The web page says that there are more than 40 gowns from all 22 countries in the League of Arab States, but I only saw about 12 or 15 gowns from about 6 different countries, if I remember correctly. I must have either missed a portion or else they were rotating. Regardless, it was a nice exhibit! The dresses were beautiful and represented a variety of regional and tribal traditions. One of the didactic panels noted that while most of the weddings themselves that take place in these countries are relatively short (prayers, the signing of a contract), the wedding celebrations are often lengthy and elaborate and vary a great deal depending on region.

Here was our favorite western-style gown, an Egyptian court dress that must be from the 1870s or 1880s:

The gold embroidery was stunning, and the lace on the sleeve ruffles was handmade.
Here's a Moroccan caftan I really liked, made of Tussah silk (wild silk) and apparently handwoven, although it seemed machine-woven to me.

Here's one last shot I really like of the first piece in the exhibit, which I think is also Egyptian. The face veil is something worn only by brides, sort of like a Western wedding veil.What a treat! All the pieces made me want to see women moving around in them, with all their drapery and dangling ornaments. Did anyone else go see this? Did you find more garments than I did? Do you think the caftan fabric is handwoven?
Don't miss it if you haven't gone; the exhibit is free and open until the 15th.

First photo of Libyan and Sudanese dresses from the collections of Mrs. Naima Bseikri and Salma Al Assal, respectively. Egyptian wedding dresses from the collection of Shahira Mehrez. Moroccan caftan from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Boubker Temli.

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All photographs by W. Robertson licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


  1. I wish I could go, but I won't be back in DC for almost another month!

  2. Regarding the number of dresses, there are 49 total. Some are in the Hall of States (those are the ones you photographed), even more are in the Hall Nations, four are in the display case in front of the Opera House and three are in the display case in front of the Eisenhower Theater.

  3. Too bad I missed the rest! What a great exhibit. I need to explore more next time!

  4. I love the wedding ceremony and see the dress of the brides.I think they are like princess in a royal palace. But although the entire celebration is wondeful, many men have sexual problems and their marrige could be in danger. So i suggest them to buy viagra and forget any concern their sexual lives.

  5. Great exhibit famous dresses show.

    Laby[brown suits]


Creative Commons License
This work by W. Robertson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.