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Haute Couture to Novice Egyptian Belly Dance Costumes

Madame Abla and Pharonics are the leading Haute Couture of Egypt. Neither fashion house has a website but Dahlal international carries both labels and Audrena carries Pharonics exclusively. Elite designers have elite prices, expect costumes to start around 800 dollars. (Prices have come down considerably in the last ten years!) For high end costumes, designer Eman Zaki, is worth a look and the BellyDanceStore has a respectable collection (request price lists). Lost Treasures carries affordable middle of the road costumes and Pyramid Imports carries (overpriced) novice costumes.

America, A Foreword

Americans following authentic ethnic styles (Turkish, Lebanese and Egyptian) patronize costuming traditional to the region they present. What will be carved out of the American belly dance scene is the classic American Belly dance costume. While it's not discussed at length here, please note that practitioners of American Belly dance also draw on Turkish and Egyptian costuming.

A Note on Tribal Style Costuming

Tribal style costuming often leaves the uneducated viewer with the impression that it is authentic Middle Eastern folk wear. Probably due to the predisposition for a more covered look, and the use of natural fiber materials often in earthy tones.

The truth is that Tribal style roots go back to 1968, California. The predecessor was a dance troupe, "Bal Anot", created by American dancer Jamila Salimpour. The costuming, diverse elements drawn into one distinct look, was also the work of Jamila. She created characters that had an "old style from the Middle East" feeling.

Over 30 odd years the dance and costuming have morphed, and inspired spin-off styles. The basic components today are turban, choli top, coined bra, tassel belt, multi-tiered skirt, pantaloons, scarves, mazouna ropes, shisa mirrors and Kuchi jewelry. Overall, Afghani, Pakistani and Indian flavors seem to dominate (countries not connected to Belly dance).

To compare and contrast. The Tribal style dancer will often wear a turban. In the east turbans are a garment worn by men. Woman cover their hair with a hijab, a simple piece of fabric arranged to lay over the scalp and length of the hair. A Tribal style dancer will often choose a choli top, alone or in addition to a bra. A choli is a form fitting top that comes under the bust line. It is a garment worn by Indian women under the sari. The Tribal dancer will often decorate her belt with yarn tassels. In North Africa tassels are used for decorating camel and donkey halters and saddle blankets on special occasions.

Most Americans live apart from a Near, Middle or Far Eastern cultural frame work and because of that feel free to bring all of these bits together into a theatrical costume. I don't have any beef about that. My only agenda here is to identify Tribal style costuming for what it is and what it is not .


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Belly dance with Jenn

"When I dance, the sun sails safely through the night;

When I dance, the future is formed by my feet;

When I dance,the stars move through the heavens;

When I dance, Venus shimmers the desert;

When I dance, dust becomes silver, stones are made of gold!"

Cosi Fabian

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