Olivier Auroy, a designer with FITCH in Dubai, is the man behind the BQ sunglasses that are tentatively set to be made and sold in the United Arab Emirates sometime in 2010.
Auroy says he came up with the idea to take the “Burqa”, which is a traditional face covering used by women in the Persian Gulf, and make something out of it that could make Emirati folks proud to keep their heritage.
That may seem like an odd proposition, but Auroy says when he moved to Dubai 5 years ago, he didn’t know anything about the people or their culture, and once he learned more, he felt the need to preserve it somehow.
“When it comes to the U.A.E it’s a very bling bling city full of weaknesses. Two years ago I went to a traditional fish market in Dubai and there was an old Arab lady wearing Burqa, the mask. I needed to understand it. Someone helped me to translate and I asked her does it hurt you this metallic thing you’re wearing? She said it’s not metal it’s a piece of fabric. She started explaining to me what it was about. Then I went to the cultural center of Dubai and step by step met more people.”
Auroy says his fascination grew and he felt that as he watched young Emirati’s get swept up by all the modernity and latest fads, he also saw them losing hold of their traditions and identity.
“I am deeply saddened when I go to Chicago, Paris, Milan, Peru , Africa and see Levis, Marlboro, Gucci, Chanel: the local culture is thrown away. Globalization is a pity. In fact the Gucci, Chanel, Ralph they made it in a way disappear the Burqa. I want to bring it back as something to protect you from the sun.”
“In my own country in France they started all this control of Burqa, it drove me crazy. There is so much confusion about what Burqa is about and what hijab is about, sometimes it’s purely cultural.”
After speaking with his friends and finding out the significance of hijab and the Burqa, Auroy says he began to come up with the concept for the sunglasses.
“So many Emirati ladies told me, this place is about real estate and oil but nobody cares about us in the sense we have no products coming form the U.A.E.”
A YouTube video promoting the project has garnered both positive and negative reaction. Auroy says most of them have been positive but the fact that people are talking is what’s most important:
We asked Auroy if he felt that he was exploiting Muslim women in order to make a product and he said no. Auroy says he’s trying to promote the historical context of the Burqa, “We shouldn’t be hypocrites, many products use culture in one way or another. I will never forget the origin of the product which is the Burqa.”
The BQ sunglasses haven’t been manufactured yet as Auroy is still seeking to secure some investors. He says he expects to start production and sales around 2010 although he wasn’t clear on an exact date. Auroy also says that the pricing for the product once it’s launched will be in the price range of what consumers currently spend on high end designer labels such as Chanel and Gucci.
If you’d like to see how you look with a pair of BQ’s on then check out the website where they have an interactive feature that let’s you do just that!
Want to read more posts like this? Click on Hijabtrendz Exclusives for the full collection.