Princess and international style icon Raya Al Khalifa is a living dream with a fabulous wardrobe to match! The Bahraini born Londoner has spent the majority of her life splitting her time between her homes in Bahrain, London, and Florida. Her fashion is eclectic and timeless with influences from all over the world contributing to her unique and inspirational style.
How would you describe your style?
RA: Being Middle Eastern and having a good dose of Floridian glamour injected to my aesthetic tastes means I really love opulence and shiny bright pretty things. The Londoner in me, however, pulls some of it back, creating the perfect blend so as not to make me look too tropical or typical or even tragic… I hope!
Who are your style icons?
RA: My grandmother, who was always immaculate, and Coco Chanel for her shift in the way modern women dress.
What inspires your style?
RA – Location! I can get away with different things in Europe than America and the same for the Middle East. So my location inspires me. Art, sub-culture, and fashion shows inspire me as well! I’m always ready and willing to try something that seems a bit avant-garde before it does become very commercial.
Do you prefer Middle Eastern fashion or Western Style?
RA: I genuinely love and am inspired by both.
What is your favourite country to shop in?
RA: America, nothing beats service in America!
Do you prefer Department stores or Boutiques?
RA: Department stores
What are your favourite places to shop?
RA: Harrods, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue (the latter two in Florida of course).
Do you prefer high street trends or couture fashion?
RA: I love H&M, and Zara. You will always find me mixing contemporary designers like DVF with higher end labels and high street, its all too tempting for me… but without a doubt my higher end pieces do stand the test of time both physically and style-wise.
Who is your favourite designer/brand?
RA: It really changes season to season. This season I’m in love with Giambattista Valli’s gorgeous petticoat dresses. I also like the Prada spring/summer collection, as it looks so light, breezy and delicate with the wrinkled disheveled look but with glamorous timeless silhouettes. I’m still in love with a piece I have from last years Versace summer collection, a beige harem pant ensemble which has been carried forward to this summer season by other designers. I also like Alexander McQueen and Bottega Venetta, and Fendi. However, when looking for a fun easy dress, Pucci is always on my mind! This summer I will definitely be purchasing from the Louis Vuitton collection! The colour palette this summer is gorgeous!
Have you ever designed your own clothes?
RA: Yes, being 5’11 I sometimes feel I need to take matters into my own hands. I hate when I fall in love with a dress to only find that it is the size of a shirt on me!
What fashion magazine/websites/etc. do you like?
RA: Elle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, both US and UK editions and I dutifully report to style.com to check out the shows and trends!
As a new mother are you finding that you’re shopping habits or passion for fashion has been affected?
RA: Having a son I have discovered my inner tomboy. I’m more ready to get dirty in the park while in London or run in the desert back home. Because of this I have expanded on my daily casual uniform. What was once heels and pristine outfits are now over the knee flat boots with leggings and a black mini Lady Dior bag with gold hardware worn with the shoulder strap. I’m also lusting after the hunter and Jimmy Choo collaboration, which yielded what is the most stylish Wellington boot I’ve ever seen! Croc embossed rubber boots!
Do you think your son will inherit your great style?
RA: I’m already dressing him like his father, which means English gentleman with a touch of polo player chic. Ralph Lauren children’s line is a dream, and has mini me versions of the men’s clothing line for little boys. There I just got him a lovely linen summer beige suit; complete with a green and yellow tie, and a colorful handkerchief for the jacket pocket!
Did your family influence your style?
RA: I always drive everyone crazy from my mother to my husband asking his or her opinion, and then I usually just do what I want! Many times I’m greeted with uneasy looks but then soon they get the look and love it. Like my leather leggings I got last summer. Nobody was really wearing them yet, but I just loved them, my mother thought I was crazy! But after my summer holiday I put them on in a tasteful rather conservative way and she loved them. My mother-in-law hated my black nail polish too a while back, but when she saw the look with a brown short swing feather dress, killer gladiator heels and a thin spike gold belt with hundreds of gold bangles and she was sold!
As you mature, is there any style icon that you would now like to emulate?
RA: I’m just concentrating on me and what I can get away with before it’s too late!
Do you enjoy doing your own shopping?
RA: I love shopping I consider it to be my therapy!
Have you ever hired a stylist?
RA: Before I had my son, I never thought I would. However, since my son’s birth, it is a service I may one day consider.
From your wardrobe, what are your favourite pieces?
RA: Anything with feathers, my beloved handbags, my knee-high boots, my long girly dresses.
If you had to give up all your belongings but could only keep one piece, what would you choose?
RA: Hands down, I would choose my Chanel purse. I admired my mother’s and grandmother’s throughout my childhood and I’ll never forget the joy I felt when purchasing my own! It is a lovely and classic purse.
What are your fashion plans for the future?
RA: I have started to do a lot of interior decorating. I get excited with room decor and the accessories the same way I get when planning an outfit around some new piece of clothing I had been lusting after. It is art and so exciting to turn a simple room into something worth taking your breath away. It is also very rewarding at the end, as it becomes your retreat and a place to build memories!