Holly Williams fell in love with fashion when she picked up her first copy of British Vogue at ten-years-old. After studying English at Leicester University (during which time she worked at Topshop and became a personal stylist), Williams began volunteering for various fashion companies in London while earning a living in PR & Marketing. This professional skill set later served her well after moving to Dubai, where she worked for both PRCo and Boutique 1 in addition to working as a freelance journalist and stylist. Now the Group Communications Manager for Symphony Style LLC, Williams currently looks after Temperley London Middle East as well as a quirky accessories store called Marami and the Dubai Mall’s first and only luxury multibrand concept store, Symphony.
What’s hot right now?
I can’t stop listening to Esben and The Witch and The Middle East. Emirati artist, Reem Al Ghaith blows my mind. Her studio The Tinkah Studio conceptualized Symphony’s VM window’s for autumn/winter ’10. I’m excited for The Ara Gallery to open in Dubai and The Louvre and Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi. I take all of my business meetings at Social House at the Dubai Mall—they have the best breakfast menu in Dubai and fill the hole that The Breakfast Club in Hoxton has left me with since I left British shores. I could not live in Dubai without the Organic Supermarket & Cafe. I am besotted with my fully automated Oro bed, which has an in-built alarm clock and moves as I move while I sleep. Good friend, Camilla Skovgaard is the best thing that has ever happened to my feet and I am all over AnOther Loves on a daily basis.
What’s the biggest trend in Dubai fashion right now?
The local Emirati women who I have met in Dubai are by far the most stylish. To see them at their women-only gatherings (sans abaya and shayla) is quite a sight—they truly are some of the most beautiful women I have ever laid eyes on. Think Grace Kelly meets Jasmine from Aladdin, with the wardrobe of Anna Dello Russo. In Dubai, it is all about accessories. Symphony is the exclusive stockist for Charlotte Olympia here and the girls go crazy for her. Dubai is a bit like a stereotypical American high school—you have these groups that are easily identifiable by their dress, a bit like in Mean Girls or Clueless. Obviously the local Emiratis have their Kandoras and Abayas—I love nothing more than being in the Dubai Mall on a Thursday late at night when these local groups come out in packs and waft their delicious Oud scent as they waltz by in their sunglasses and Vertu, diamond encrusted phones. Then you have the “Paris Hiltonites” who buy into the pink and the bling. The “Jumeirah Janes” who are all big hair and big pouts. You hardly ever see tattoos or vintage. I distinctly remember seeing a guy with piercings and tattoos and mentally noting that. Slowly but surely I think we are beginning to see a lot more “creative dressing” out here which is a beautiful thing. But on the whole, the Emiratis are the ones who have it nailed *mashallah*
What are your wardrobe essentials in Dubai?
When I am walking my dogs on the beach and BBQ-ing with friends I basically live in my Current/Elliott boyfriend shorts and vintage Bob Dylan t-shirts. I have an embarrassingly large collection of sunglasses for obvious reasons; I favour Super Retrofuture, which Marami at the Dubai Mall stocks. I love the local, traditional dress “Jalabiyah”—it is kind of like a kaftan and they make them in the most beautiful colors and prints imaginable. I wear mine with Thomas Wylde or Chanel sandals at the beach and my beloved Charlotte Olympia dolly’s at night. Since moving to Dubai, I can’t get out of Australian designer’s Kit Willow’s designs. I am just waiting for the day for someone to tell me that despite the fact that I am blonde and British I can wear an Abaya. I am guessing that there are a ton of readers that would find this strange, but I would secretly love to don the Burkha on days when I just can’t be bothered. The biggest thing I have learned since moving to the Middle East is that there is something so beautiful about modesty. Sure, wear a short skirt, but cover your chest and arms or vice versa. I am a big fan of not showing all of your cards at once.