At NY fashion week, hijabs top looks fit for royalty

Designer Anniesa Hasibuan walks the runway for the Anniesa Hasibuan collection during New York Fashion Week in New York City. (AFP)
Updated 15 February 2017
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At NY fashion week, hijabs top looks fit for royalty

NEW YORK: In just two seasons, Indonesian Muslim designer Anniesa Hasibuan has made the hijab her trademark — and dazzled New York fashion week’s catwalk this week by styling it with flowing, iridescent gowns fit for a princess.
Like in her New York show last fall — which cemented her status as a rising star — all of the models who showcased Hasibuan’s autumn/winter 2017 collection sported lustrous gray hijabs that sculpted the facial features while carefully covering the hair.
Other than the hijab, the traditional head and neck covering many Muslim women wear, the 30-year-old designer’s clothes evoked nothing of the “modest Muslim” style that sometimes stirs controversy and exacerbates anti-Muslim sentiment in western countries.
On the contrary, Hasibuan’s collection features shimmering, on-trend pleats, silver and golden ruffles, and long trains adorned with pearls, glitter or embroidery that recalled royalty of the Middle Ages.
The models were not chosen at random — the young designer held casting calls specifically seeking first and second-generation immigrants, seeking to show that “fashion is for everybody.”
“There is beauty in diversity and differences — something we should not be afraid of” she told AFP, speaking through an interpreter.
“I believe being a fashion designer can bring a lot of changes — and beautiful changes, of course.”
She unveiled her second New York collection amid controversy over US President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on immigration, currently blocked by a US court, that bars refugees and migrants from seven Muslim-majority nations. The decree ignited mass protests and global condemnation.
Hasibuan, however, aims to keep her work, which is primarily geared toward Muslim women, “separate” from politics.
“I’m here bringing the beautiful voice of the Muslim women, the peace and the universal values that fashion can offer,” she said.
Her dream, she said, would be to dress Kate Middleton, whom the designer said is “like a queen,” adding that she admires the Duchess of Cambridge for “her elegance.”
Hasibuan won worldwide praise for her fall collection in New York last September, the first to feature a hijab in every look.
Since then she has opened new stores in her home country Indonesia as well as in Malaysia, Turkey and Abu Dhabi — proffering modern Islamic clothing dripping in glamor.
Chiara Sari, Indonesia’s vice consul in New York, donned a white hijab atop a black, velvet top and black pants to attend the show, pulling her contemporary look together with a statement necklace.
The hijab, Sari said, is Hasibuan’s “trademark, and I don’t think she will lose that.”
Since Trump’s contentious decree Sari said she has spent significant time reassuring her fellow Indonesians in the United States, while also urging them to “avoid traveling abroad” to reduce the risk of not being able to re-enter.
For Sari, Hasibuan’s growing fame is a gift. “Hopefully that will increase familiarity with Islam in general, especially now when it is getting a lot of bad press,” she said.


29-year-old Saudi designer breaks down barriers between fashion and art

Updated 21 July 2018
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29-year-old Saudi designer breaks down barriers between fashion and art

  • Art meets fashion in these thought-provoking sneaker designs, thanks to a Saudi designer with a foot in both worlds
  • The Nou Project is anything but a traditional Saudi sneaker brand — the shoes are unisex.

DUBAI: A university project turned lifelong career is not what Riyadh-born Nour Al-Tamimi had in mind when she first stepped into the world of art.
But the 29-year-old designer has managed to do just that, breaking down the barriers between fashion and art with striking clothing designs. Now Al-Tamimi has created the Kingdom’s first sneaker brand, which “speaks the truth” by featuring striking and often thought-provoking  artwork.

The Nou Project is anything but a traditional Saudi sneaker brand — the shoes are unisex. “That was the biggest thing for me, being Saudi,” Al-Tamimi said. “I was excited to come up with something that was unisex, something that Saudi men and women could wear as equals. People asked about creating flats or cute clutch bags — but I wanted to appeal to both sexes and have them find a common ground.”

Al-Tamimi’s artistic journey began at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts in Boston, where she gained a bachelor of fine arts. Soon after, she was on her way to Milan, where she was awarded a master’s in fashion at the renowned Istituto Marangoni. Later, in Los Angeles, she pursued a master’s in art business at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. “I was always into art and fashion,” Al-Tamimi said.  “I ended up doing my last semester in New York City, where I got blisters from walking around in flat shoes or stilettos. That’s whenI realized I wanted to invest in a cool pair of sneakers for daily use.”

Riyadh-born Nour Al-Tamimi

As part of the course, Al-Tamimi had to develop a business plan for a project to benefit the art world. That was when her idea came to life. “I thought it would be cool to cater to sneaker-heads and art collectors,” she said. “I wanted to have really cool sneakers with limited art and to have art on a different platform. New York, as a city, was inspirational, and it became about combining my passion for art and fashion.”

Following her graduation, Al-Tamimi spent time at an art market website that collaborated with artists to produce furniture and other household items. “It was a valuable experience,” she said. “I decided to make my business plan a reality and I met my co-creative director Basma Chidiac in New York.”

Featuring pop and street art, Al-Tamimi’s leather shoes became an instant hit. One design features water pistols by artist James Rawson, whose work addresses issues of the past 50 years, including over-consumption and global inequality.

Another favorite and a bestseller for the Nou Project includes work by Eric Yahnker with his “AirObama Cares” — a portrait of former US president Barack Obama “giving the finger”. Yahnker used gouache, a paintbrush, colored pencils and a roll of watercolor paper to create what he calls “a crude gesture that many of us may wish he would use, but are grateful he doesn’t.” Although Al-Tamimi loved the idea, the gesture caused some doubts.
“I showed it to my mother, who asked how I could put that on a shoe and wondered what people would think or say,” she said. “But it became our bestseller, so it’s important to remember that art is all about things that are shocking. It’s about commenting on current affairs and pointing out issues.”

The designer received requests from customers in Miami suggesting an artwork of Trump blow-drying his hair. “Those shoes point to the value of art and art history,” she said.

One of Al-Tamimi’s favorite pieces is by fellow Saudi artist Rexchouk, who works out of a SoHo studio in New York and has been featured in the artist program of the Walton Fine Arts Gallery in London.

“I admired his courage and the way he never studied art but knew this was his passion and what he wanted to do,” she said. “It’s really nice to support each other as Saudis.

He is one of the artists who means a lot to me. But I love them all — I was really excited about our collaboration with the Untitled Art Fair in Miami last December because we did 55 pairs with three artists showcasing there.”

Although the journey has been challenging for Al-Tamimi since she started in 2015, it has been worthwhile. “I had no idea this would become my life today,” she said. “It’s exciting to be the first Saudi sneaker brand — that’s a milestone in itself.” The designer believes the opening of art galleries in both Riyadh and Jeddah will make it easier for aspiring Saudi artists to enter the market. “I’m so proud of all of them,” Al-Tamimi said.

“I would tell young Saudi women looking to start their own business to work with other startups as they encourage each other to grow. We are all in a creative industry, so helping each other out will help you to stay ahead of the game.”

Decoder

What is the Nou Project?

It is an artist-designed sneaker brand featuring illustrated pieces that turn footwear into wearable art. Conceived by Riyadh-born Nour Al-Tamimi and creative director Lebanese Basma Chidiac, the brand supports emerging artists by providing them with a platform to gain recognition. With minimal lines and stitching, the high-top grain leather sneakers are presented as a blank canvas for each artist to creatively showcase their artwork. The limited-edition sneakers are numbered from one to 300, making each pair a collectible. Inspired by asphalt and street art, the soles feature a unique grainy recycled rubber. In future, a portion of the revenue will be donated to a charity selected in collaboration with each artist. Nou Project sneakers can be found on www.thenouproject.co