Sunday, 2 May 2010

BBC News - The decline of Egypt's traditional galabeya

Let's hear it for the galabeya, it is sensible clothing for Egypt. Luxor men chose very elegant versions and look really smart. Especially on men of a certain size :)

For the past 30 years Egypt has witnessed the decline of the galabeya.

Peasants in the fields still wear it, but western-leaning businessmen wear suits.

One independent politician, however, is pushing for its return.

Christian Fraser reports from Cairo.

BBC News - The decline of Egypt's traditional galabeya


Jane Akshar said...

Received by email
I strongly support any campaign to promote the traditional Egyptian galabaya.

To me it is the most elegant of all Arab dress styles, far more stylish than the faintly ridiculous dishdash with its collar and cuffs, and straight cut. Not flattering for overweight humans!

I first came to Egypt in 1966 and then again just three years ago. On my first trip I was an archaeological conservationist working on an Islamic site in Cairo, and living on a houseboat on Gezira island. The boat staff all wore galabayas and cooked, washed up, and ironed, wearing them.

During that trip I visited Luxor and had one made for me. It was of cream Egyptian cotton, with what looked like silk stripes. I wore it to ride my Arab horse, Afrit, round the pyramids and across the desert. My horse came from the stables of Mohammed Ghunen and I used to ride out with his brother, Zaki. Zaki wore a black galabaya and a white turban -very sexy.

I had photographs taken in a properly lit studio in London of me wearing the galabaya so when
I came back to Egypt I asked Jane's husband, Mamoud, to arrange for me to have galabayas made by his tailor in Luxor. I had a white and blue one in heavy cotton, and a grey pin-striped one in wool for the winter. This has a white cotton under slip which can be easily washed. I love the plain blue cotton garments which are pretty common in Egypt, the neckline is so stylish and sometimes you see the front embellished with little hand-made buttons and loops.

The idea was that I would take these garments to boutiques in England, obtain orders, and have them
made up and shipped from Luxor. The idea proved too complicated so I still have my beautiful galabayas hanging in my cupboard waiting to come home to Luxor.

When I finally return there to live, I will wear them in my house only, not wishing to upset the men. As a middle-aged, eccentric English woman I am sure I can get away with this fashion statement.

But I cannot work out how men work, cook, and do the washing up in a galabaya. The sleeves are wide and if you roll them up, they just fall down again, into the soapy water! Help.

Not that I would dream of wearing my beautiful galabayas to do housework in!

Men in western suits don't do it for me, not in Egypt. Fine for the office but not in the home.

Sign me up for the Save the Galabaya campaign.


Jonna said...

No, no! We do not want the Egyptian galabaya to disappear. We can see this elegant garment only in Egypt. It is one of Egypt's trademarks and perhaps the men don't realize just how handsome and sexy they appear when wearing their galabaya.

Galabayas in the style for women are in every shop in Luxor and elsewhere. They get more stylish and beautiful every year. I am a seamstress so I make my own galabayas and abayas and I never fail to receive compliments. I feel elegant and feminine when wearing them, because mine are elegant and feminine.

When in Egypt I dress in the style of the local women, covering my galabaya with a lovely abaya, of my own making. During my time in the USA, I always wear a galabaya, but sadly, I can't wear it to conduct business!

Don't let us loose the galabaya!

amiT said...

I agree, a beautiful national costume and it should not be frowned upon. If other clothes are seen more practical for certain chores then fine however the galabeya should be a healthy option for whoever, whenever and wherever.