Iraqi Designer's Vision: Covered, Still Sexy

  • Hana Sadiq's designs often feature long sleeves and sweeping skirts. She says these elements are not about modesty, but are meant to signal that a woman is pampered...that she isn't dressed for household chores or work.
    Hide caption
    Hana Sadiq's designs often feature long sleeves and sweeping skirts. She says these elements are not about modesty, but are meant to signal that a woman is pampered...that she isn't dressed for household chores or work.
    Courtesy of Hana Sadiq
  • Sadiq says that Western fashion only finds glamour in gowns that leave skin bare, with open shoulders and high slits at the leg. She wants to show that a woman can be covered, but also very sexy and feminine.
    Hide caption
    Sadiq says that Western fashion only finds glamour in gowns that leave skin bare, with open shoulders and high slits at the leg. She wants to show that a woman can be covered, but also very sexy and feminine.
    Courtesy of Hana Sadiq
  • Sadiq uses traditional embroidery patterns from throughout the Arab world as a means to honor her heritage in her designs. She wants Arab women to embrace their heritage through fashion.
    Hide caption
    Sadiq uses traditional embroidery patterns from throughout the Arab world as a means to honor her heritage in her designs. She wants Arab women to embrace their heritage through fashion.
    Courtesy of Hana Sadiq
  • Sadiq says the memory of her grandmother –with her long, flowing dresses-- first inspired her to turn to fashion. She began designing dresses with the desire to create Arab fashion that allows women to dress with grandeur and elegance.
    Hide caption
    Sadiq says the memory of her grandmother –with her long, flowing dresses-- first inspired her to turn to fashion. She began designing dresses with the desire to create Arab fashion that allows women to dress with grandeur and elegance.
    Courtesy of Hana Sadiq
  • In Sadiq's 2011 collection, she focuses on the idea of "love." The designs feature calligraphy styles from Arab countries, with verses of love poems embroidered onto her dresses.
    Hide caption
    In Sadiq's 2011 collection, she focuses on the idea of "love." The designs feature calligraphy styles from Arab countries, with verses of love poems embroidered onto her dresses.
    Courtesy of Hana Sadiq
  • There are dozens of words in Arabic that mean "love." Sadiq signs each of her designs with one of these words. She says these designs are a celebration of love.
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    There are dozens of words in Arabic that mean "love." Sadiq signs each of her designs with one of these words. She says these designs are a celebration of love.
    Courtesy of Hana Sadiq
  • For the last 25 years, Sadiq has designed dresses for the modern Arab woman. Members of the royal families of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states wear her designs.
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    For the last 25 years, Sadiq has designed dresses for the modern Arab woman. Members of the royal families of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states wear her designs.
    Courtesy of Hana Sadiq
  • Sadiq wraps up her first tour of the United States. She says her designs can offer American women with an entirely unique look.
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    Sadiq wraps up her first tour of the United States. She says her designs can offer American women with an entirely unique look.
    Courtesy of Hana Sadiq

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Hana Sadiq has dressed Queen Noor and Queen Rania of Jordan.

Hana Sadiq has dressed Queen Noor and Queen Rania of Jordan. Courtesy of Hana Sadiq hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Hana Sadiq

Renowned Iraqi fashion designer Hana Sadiq has dressed both Queen Noor and Queen Rania of Jordan, as well as members of the royal families of Saudi Arabia.

For the past 25 years, Sadiq has shown her collections throughout the Middle East and Europe. Thursday night, she wraps up her first tour of the United States with an event at Washington, D.C.'s historic Lincoln Theatre. It's called "Turaath — A Celebration of Arab Culture in America," and it's sponsored by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Sadiq trained as a painter. While studying art in Paris, she tells Tell Me More host Michel Martin, she was inspired by memories of her grandmother, who dazzled guests at her home with her style. She entered rooms with grandeur and grace, wearing long flowing dresses with vibrant colors and traditional details. Sadiq thought her grandmother was far more chic than any of the European women she knew.

"I thought, my god, what I'm doing here?" Sadiq says. "I have to teach the women how to be feminine again and sensual as they were before."

Sadiq is known for her intricate designs, featuring detailed embroidery, vibrant colors and traditional calligraphy drawn from Arab culture. Many of her designs feature long, full sleeves and sweeping skirts. She says these elements are not about modesty, but are meant to signal that a woman is pampered, that she isn't dressed for household chores or work.

"It means she is served," Sadiq says, "she's not doing dishes, she's not working in the farm or gardening."

Sadiq's 2011 collection focuses on the idea of love. "All these people, they talk a lot of violence in the world," Sadiq says, "so I went back to the classic way of how we see love."

There are dozens of words in Arabic that mean "love." Sadiq signs each of her designs with one of these words to celebrate love and peace. Her dresses have verses of love poems embroidered on them.

With her first tour of the U.S., Sadiq hopes to show American women a glimpse of Arab fashion that celebrates the culture. She also wants to offer an alternative to the Western conception of glamour. She says fashion in the U.S. finds allure in gowns that leave skin bare, with open shoulders and high slits at the leg.

"But it's not sensual, it's not feminine," Sadiq says. "This is what I want to show them: You can be covered, but also very, very sexy and feminine."

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