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Fashion through the Years

Start Date 16 December 2020
End Date 16 February 2021
Venue Qasr Al Hosn
Location Abu Dhabi, UAE
Exhibition display of imagery
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins and imagery
Exhibition display of dressed mannequin and images
Exhibition display of object and imagery
Exhibition display of objects and clothing
Exhibition display of objects
Exhibition display of jewellery

Explore fabulous fashions of the past at Qasr Al Hosn this December.

Launching on 16 December, Qasr Al Hosn’s new exhibition ‘Fashion Through the Years’ showcases Abu Dhabi textile and fashion trends from the 1940s-1980s.

Abu Dhabi, UAE – XX December 2020: In line with The Department of Culture and Tourism- Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) commitment to celebrating and preserving the cultural heritage of the UAE,  Qasr Al Hosn is launching Fashion Through the Years, a new exhibition following the evolution of fashion trends in Abu Dhabi from the 1940s-1980s. The exhibition will take place at Qasr Al Hosn from 16 December to 16 February.

Using the lens of Emirati fashion and dress, Fashion Through the Years explores the emirate’s social history and the stories of its people through the clothes they wore and the accessories that adorned them.

A symbol of heritage, traditional Emirati garments were often hand-sewn and hand-embroidered.  The wearing of these garments and accessories was highly ritualised and the exhibition will explore the changes in the aesthetic dressing and social practices throughout the years. From the simplicity and functionality of clothing in the pre-oil era, to the outside influences that arrived through trade routes in the region, the exhibition celebrates Abu Dhabi’s deeply traditional past and its diverse and inclusive culture.

Fashion Through the Years is a fascinating exhibition providing a unique opportunity to explore clothing trends and methods of personal expression from decades ago. Visitors will be transported back in time to connect with the experiences of our ancestors and gain deeper insight into the UAE’s rich heritage,” said Salama Al Shamsi, Director of Qasr Al Hosn. “From burqas worn by women as they travelled from Al Wathba to Al Ain, to the historical significance of family men carrying a dagger and the surprising influence of the European fashion scene on gowns, the exhibition showcases the cultural significance of fashion in the emirate during the crucial four decades of development and nation-building.”

The dedication of UAE Founding Father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to the progress of the nation and his people is also evident through changes in fashion. Fashion Through the Years demonstrates how trends were shaped by globalisation, as trade routes opened up in the region. Comparing the simple handmade ensembles worn by women in pre-oil Abu Dhabi to the tailored garments of the 1970s and 1980s, the exhibition highlights the influence of a country’s development on the techniques and materials used in fashion, as well as its impact on cultural identity.

Displayed over three sections within the outer palace of Qasr Al Hosn, Fashion Through the Years will showcase over 30 artefacts and garments of cultural importance. The exhibition includes notable items such as necklaces gifted by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi, “Mother of the Nation”, and an ornate burqa belonging to Fatima bint Mohamed bin Thani Al Mehairi. Other highlights include a nostalgic album of personal and family photographs depicting fashion trends from the 1960s to 1980s; examples of different types of traditional embroidery (Talli, Badlah and Khoos); intricate headpieces and other jewellery; sewing and Talli instruments; early 20th century sewing machines; elaborate stitching patterns, fabric dyes and much more.

Qasr Al Hosn  is a national heritage landmark that includes artefacts and archival materials dating back to 6000 BC, tracing Abu Dhabi’s development from an 18th-century fishing and pearl trade settlement to today’s modern global metropolis.

For more information about Fashion Through the Years, please visit

Images © Qasr Al Hosn.