This was written by Sara Elghobashy and originally appeared at elan.
It seems that everywhere you turn there is a burqa product hitting the market. From the Wine Bottle Burqa to the Bluetooth Burqa, Burqa Barbie to the Laptop Burqa, the fascination with covering just won’t go away. But if you haven’t gotten your fix just yet, let me introduce you to the burqa shades.
The brain child of Dubai-based consulting firm, Fitch, the burqa shades, or “bq” for short, seek to “combine fashion with culture” and aim to replicate the burqa, but with a modern twist. Some have even suggested that it is a way to “observe [an] Islamic dress code while staying trendy in Dubai and Saudi Arabia’s scorching desert heat.” Phew. Thank goodness they’ve found a solution to that problem!
But let’s slow down. Managing director of Fitch, Olivier Auroy, doesn’t want us to get confused. His $1 million concept is based on the Gulf burqa, which was worn by nomadic women in the region (and still is in some parts of the UAE), not the head-to-toe cover worn by women in Afghanistan. Apparently, that makes it all better. You see, he is just trying to preserve Emirati culture because, as an ex-pat living in Dubai, he’s really concerned about the fading Gulf traditions. And on BQ’s website, I learned just what this particular tradition is:
“Wearing the burqa meant a lot for women. It was a way to communicate that they were just engaged or married. It symbolized womanhood and pride. The ‘bq’ project intends to revive this unique and traditional accessory.”
Well, that sure is one loaded pair of sunglasses, but do we really need to revive the idea that womanhood and pride are rooted in marriage? Also, I don’t know if the staff at Fitch has ever heard of an engagement ring or wedding band, but those are pretty good ways to communicate that you’re off the market (and ones that won’t go out of style).
I find it hard to believe that this project was about tradition as much as it was about profiting off of some Emiratis’ fear of losing their heritage. As Auroy mentions in an interview, he’s met several women (specifically) who were afraid that the UAE has become synonymous with oil and real estate and nothing else. Lucky for them, Auroy’s solution was to add “burqa” to the mix. His concern is especially charming because what better way to preserve a nomadic practice than with a high end, expensive product.
The team at Fitch is yet to release their sunglasses, but they’re optimistic that it will be well received. After all, the market is hungry for burqa products. I, for one, am anxious to see what the world comes up with next. Burqa Blender anyone?