In the world of classic Arab cinema, television, and music, names like Rushdy Abaza and Samir Ghanem would easily pop up and come to mind. This is not merely because of their legendary performances and unique personalities, these classic icons are also hard to forget because of their unmatched stage presence and signature looks.
Now with Halloween fast approaching, instead of dressing up as a superhero or Frankenstein, we wanted to change things up and provide you with a way to step back in time and embody some of the Arab world’s most iconic figures. With the help of a professional Egyptian stylist, Aya Metwaly, we have curated a special guide that includes every detail from the clothes and accessories you should buy to the kind of hair and makeup you should go for to re-create each signature look.
In classic Egyptian cinema, there was always one actor who oozed charisma whether on or off the screen, known to his devoted fans as Roushdy Abaza. He was the ultimate cinematic heartthrob and whenever he appeared on the silver screen, ladies would swoon over his heroic and classy roles. Beyond that, he was an actor that donned many hats during his career, taking up comedy and tapping into his serious side with roles in films like 1953’s Conspiracy.
As Abaza is known as a classy, charming fashion icon, seeing that same actor in a completely different style in the 1963 comedy film Wife Number 13 made it a strong contender as the ultimate Abaza Halloween look. Donning an unbuttoned silk robe, chest hair exposed to the masses with shaggy, messy hair to top it off, Abaza plays a character known as the ultimate notorious playboy who wed and divorced 12 wives. When wife number 13, Aida, comes into the picture and discovers his marital past, she begins a hilarious revenge scheme.
To take on this special character we are going to take an outside-of-the-box approach. The entire look can be re-created using general day-to-day items you will easily find around your house. Starting with the hair, with a little bit of gel you can mimic his messy hair look by tousling the front part of your head. To exude that Abaza-esque manliness and take the look to the next level we need to shift our focus to his signature mustache and chest hair. For that, you’ll need three things: black thread, a glue gun, and some double-sided tape. By clumping together several strands of black thread using a glue gun, you’ll have made your very own mustache which you can then plop on your face using double-sided tape. For the chest hair, spread out small pieces of double-sided tape all over your chest and then stick tiny grass size pieces of black thread on that very spot.
To finish off the look, our on-hand stylist, Metwaly recommended getting your hands on a silk robe and his signature striped pajamas by hitting up any vintage store or a local market like Egypt’s Wekalit El Balah. Bringing the character to life goes beyond the clothes, so before Halloween, you’ll need to start putting your acting chops into full gear. Head to your living room to recreate the most famous scene in the film, when Aida manages to bring most of his past wives into one room. Channel your inner Abaza by pretending you’re drunk and dancing about the room while flailing a large stick over your head.
When you hear the name Mary Mounib, many things come to mind; whether it’s her long-winded acting career spanning the 40s, 50s, and 60s, her comedic chops, or her typecast role as the nosy mother-in-law. Today the actress is considered a pioneer among women in the film industry as she was the first woman to take on the mantle of a comedian in an industry that was dominated by male comics. An already iconic-looking actress because of her unique facial features dominated by arched eyebrows, deep-set eyes, and curvy lips, it would make sense why anyone would want to dress up as the iconic Mounib for this year’s Halloween.
To stand true to the spirit of the actress and her unique stage presence, we picked out her most popular role as our inspiration for the ultimate Mary Mounib Halloween look. The classic 1953 film The Pretty Mothers-in-law showcases Mounib in her truest form as a sneaky, in-our-face mother-in-law who ends up living with her son and daughter-in-law, turning their lives into a literal nightmare.
Transforming into this iconic character will be fun in itself as you’ll have to think about everything from the accessories to copying her makeup and clothes. First things first, you’ll need to get doled up as Mounib loves to go for some heavy accessories. Metwaly jokingly recommends that you sneak into your mother’s room and pick out the biggest earrings, necklace, and bracelets you can get your hands on. Then get any scarf and with a glue gun, stick a string of rose petals or leaves onto the scarf then wrap it around your head. For the makeup, go for heavy red lipstick, her signature winged eyeliner look, and a heavy amount of blush. Finish up the look by putting on a galabya (traditional Egyptian garment) and you’re all set.
Ever since Egyptian actor Samir Ghanem graced the screen, whether it was as part of the special comedic trio Tholathy Adwa’a El Masrah along George Sidhom and El Deif Ahmed or in any of his theatre, television and film roles; for more than 50 years he always knew how to put a huge smile on our faces and a cackling laugh to accompany it. His most hilarious and unforgettable role was back in the 80s, when his voice would go up a few octaves as he struts around as the infamous, well-loved character Fatota.
Bringing such a character to life is a fun and easy way to celebrate this year’s Halloween. To match his iconic look, it’s all about that iconic green suit that can be mimicked through a few hacks offered by Metwaly. The trick here is getting a suit that is two sizes up from what you would usually wear. The fun part will be pulling up the enormous green pants all the way up to your belly button and securing them with a belt for the ultimate clown-like look.
Now let’s not forget the gigantic bow that can be re-created with a piece of black fabric which you can tie off in the middle with a piece of satin as well as his enormous yellow shoes easily found in any costume shop. For the true Fatota fans out there, to truly tune into Samir Ghanim’s 80s alter ego, you’ll need to bump up your energy to embody his hyper and fluttery personality. We’d recommend a big breakfast, some coffee, and maybe an energy drink and you’ll be all set.
Known as Egypt’s Cinderella, exuding elegance and beauty is Egypt’s adored actress Soad Hosny who has graced our screens in her signature dresses and magnetizing smile. She is known as a triple threat bringing her acting chops, dance moves, and mesmerizing voice to many of her performances; most of which were romantic roles in Egyptian classics like Watch Out for ZouZou. The actress also managed not to be type-casted as she took on serious roles dealing with significant issues like poverty, gender inequality, and war.
To recreate the look and personality of the graceful yet powerful actress, we’ve gathered some fun tips and tricks for your upcoming Halloween escapade. Known for her polka dot dresses and adorable headbands, we wanted to change things up so we picked out a more playful and unique outfit that was donned by the actress in one of her biggest roles yet. In the classic 1966 romantic film, Too Young to Love, Hosny transforms into a cute young girl, all part of an attempt to impress Kamal, a television producer, and convince him to take her on in his latest project.
Let’s break down her look, there’s the pink-and-white checkered gingham dress, the mini straw hat, white socks, and black ballerinas. A fun way to recreate the dress would be to take a pink marker and draw out the criss cross pattern of the original dress on any short white dress you have on hand, one that you are ready to alter completely for the sake of turning into the graceful Hosny. With the mini straw hat, Metwaly says you’ll probably find it in the children’s section of any popular clothing store or at any traditional costume shop. For the final touches, tie your hair into pigtails using a pink satin, wear your longest pair of white socks, and put on some shiny black ballerinas.
So, what are you waiting for? Take a step back in time and transform into any of these classic Arab stars. You’ll definitely be the talk of the party.