I’m in Saudi Arabia right now, meeting with press and clients. Last night I hosted a cocktail party with my friend Anoud Ghazzawi at her home in Al-Khobar, an eastern province on the Arabian Gulf. The night before, we were at another party thrown by another friend, this time at a large events hall in Jeddah. Both of the nights were for my friends and friends of friends.

I’ve been staying at the Rosewood Corniche in Jeddah, a beautiful hotel with amazing views of the Red Sea and the city. Saudi is definitely not as conservative as I had thought. In Jeddah, we didn’t have to wear a head scarf all the time we were in public, and women also go without them in restaurants.

This story first appeared in the May 7, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The abaya I’m wearing (required for all women) is very special, it’s made by my new friend Anoud, a Saudi woman. She is starting her own clothing line — making abayas that are gorgeous and distinctive by keeping the required black but mixing in beautiful colors on the sleeves, trims and linings, as well as changing the necklines and sleeves to be unique and fashionable. I am having her make some for me to wear when I’m back in New York — shorter versions that I’ll wear with black pants and cute heels. I love them and love that I’ll be bringing back and living with a piece of my trip to Saudi Arabia. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey — there are so many beautiful places to see and unfortunately I haven’t had the time. But I’m planning to come back and go to Riyadh in October.

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