Akbar, Adnan (1949)

One of the creations by the Saudi fashion designer, Adnan Akbar One of the creations by the Saudi fashion designer, Adnan Akbar

Adnan Akbar is a late twentieth-century Saudi fashion designer, who uses hand and machine embroidery for decorating women’s clothing. From an early age, Akbar was interested in designing clothing. As a young man, he was sent to a college in Pakistan in order to study political science, but at night he learnt how to embroider and create elaborate designs from local embroiderers.

By 1968, Adnan Akbar was studying under Madame Sylvia, a French couturier based in Beirut, Lebanon. From there he went to Paris to learn further about fashion designing. In 1970 Adnan Akbar returned to Saudi Arabia and established his own atelier in Jeddah, producing dresses with embroidery. Apparently, at that time Adnan Akbar was the only haute couture designer in Saudi Arabia.

Akbar focused on producing one-off dresses individualised with intricate hand embroidery. According to Akbar, he was inspired by the rich cultural heritage of his country, especially the traditional clothing, colours and embroidery. His first international fashion show was at the Second International Fashion Festival (Paris, 1987). The festival was regarded as a milestone in his career.

In 1988 Christian Lacroix, a leading French couturier, named Akbar international designer of the year. In September 1988, Akbar was awarded the ‘Triumph’ Grand Prize of European Excellence from the Comité de l'Excellence Européenne in honour of the "original creativity, refinement and aesthetics" of his collection. At the end of the twentieth century Akbar stated that he felt that his designs were helping women understand and promote the beauty hidden within his Saudi Arabian culture.


  • KAUFMAN, Elisabeth (1989). ‘Adnan Akbar: Toutes les splendours de l’Arabie,' L'Officiel de la Mode, no. 748, pp. 66-67.
  • KAUFMAN, Elisabeth (1989). ‘Adnan Akbar: Le couturier Adnan Akbar est applaudi à Washington', L'Officiel de la Mode, no. 752, pp. 156-157.
  • KESTING, Piney (1990). ‘Akbar Akbar has reinterpreted traditional embroidery in his more contemporary styles,' Saudi Aramco World, March/April 1990, pp. 30-35. (online version: www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/199002/fashioned.with.tradition.htm (retrieved 03 March 2017).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 03 March 2017).


Last modified on Friday, 03 March 2017 19:17