Meet the Dubai-based designer who wowed at London Fashion Week

Having spent her life in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Amira Haroon stunned stylish crowds in London this week. (Photos supplied)
Updated 17 September 2017
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Meet the Dubai-based designer who wowed at London Fashion Week

LONDON: Designers from the Middle East made waves at London Fashion Week, the latest edition of which is set to wrap up on Tuesday.
Fashion Scout, the international showcase for fashion pioneers, is the UK’s largest independent, globally-recognized platform for emerging and established design talent during London Fashion Week. This year, they featured a Dubai-based designer who succeeded in impressing the style-savvy crowd.
The Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) and the FAD Institute of Luxury, Fashion and Style Dubai (FAD) chose to spotlight designer Amira Haroon at the event as part of their bid to provide Dubai-based designers the opportunity to be seen on the global stage.
For her SS18 collection, shown in the stunning surroundings of the Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden last Friday, Haroon drew inspiration from US pop culture and paid tribute to the great talent Whitney Houston, whose music and timeless style inspired many generations of musicians and designers alike.
Arab News had privileged access backstage as Haroon worked with her team to ensure that every detail was right in the run-up to the catwalk show. Amazingly, considering the pressure and hubbub around her – a creative blur of make-up artists, hair stylists, models and a general sense of urgency with the clock ticking down to show time – Haroon seemed to be an island of calm.
“It’s exciting and stressful but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be,” she said.
She has been on a tight schedule with a plethora of tasks to get through.
“I’ve been here in London for two days and there were a lot of last minute things that needed to be done. We had to check that we had the right models, the rights shoes — we have been sponsored by Aperlaï, Paris, a fabulous shoe brand. There were a few last-minute glitches — new shoe sizes had to be arranged for some of the models — and we also changed some looks around,” she explained.
On the day of the show, London was on high alert due to a terrorist attack on an underground train. “I woke up to that news — a very sad and worrying incident for London but I should say that we are used to this as we are from the region in the world where these things happen,” she said.
Haroon was brought up in Saudi Arabia and currently resides in Dubai. She attended the Parsons School of Design and launched “The Amira Haroon RTW label” in 2011. The brand’s signature style fuses modernity with cultural influences and versatility. She has had several showings in the Middle East but this is her first in London.
“Everyone here has been very supportive. It is highly organized — everyone has their job list and are trying their best.
“DDFC and FAD have been very kind to allow me this opportunity. DDFC is taking a major interest in how the fashion industry in the region is developing. This was a selection process, there were eight designers shortlisted and then we presented to a jury. The jury was very scary because there were big names from the international fashion industry on the panel. It’s an honor to have been selected,” she said.
Thomaz Domingues, senior manager of strategy and industry development at the DDFC, explained the competition procedure.
“We give an open call to our members every season. They go through a judgment process and the selected designer gets to come here with a fully-sponsored show in partnership with FAD.
“We are tasked with helping to develop the creative industries in Dubai, the UAE and the MENA region.”
Shivang Dhruva, founder of FAD, shed light on the organization’s role, saying: “We have been engaging with Fashion Scout for the past four years. We incubate and promote talent from across the Middle East and Asia. In addition to training, we support our designers to showcase on international platforms and expand their retail and business profiles.”
Haroon’s collection was notable for the elegance of the designs and the wonderful color palette and detailing. The clothes somehow managed to look both classic and contemporary and it was easy to spot the influence of Whitney Houston in the designs and styling of the models. This was a triumph of a London debut for Haroon and her vision of strong, independent women who showcase their personalities through their style.


Beyoncé wears Tunisian-French design in viral video

Updated 20 June 2018
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Beyoncé wears Tunisian-French design in viral video

DUBAI: Beyoncé and Jay-Z stunned fans by dropping a surprise joint album this week, and the artistic video for the lead track, “Apes***,” sees the Grammy-winning queen of pop wearing a turban by French-Tunisian milliner Donia Allegue.

The nine-track album “Everything Is Love” dropped Saturday on the Tidal music streaming service that Jay-Z partially owns, before the couple released it on Spotify on Monday.
The pop diva and hip-hop superstar announced the album from the stage in London as they wrapped up the British leg that opened a global tour.

The couple also put out an elaborately choreographed video that takes place inside the Louvre museum in Paris for “Apes***,” AFP reported.

The video opens with the couple standing regally in front of the “Mona Lisa” — Jay-Z in a light green double-breasted suit, Beyoncé in a lavender pantsuit — and features a squad of scantily clad dancers moving sensually in front of Jacques Louis David’s “The Coronation of Napoleon.”

In a later scene, Beyoncé dons a floor-length black turban by Donia Allegue with a nude-colored bodysuit by French design house Cadolle. According to Vogue Arabia, Allegue revealed that the headpiece took eight hours to create and is made of six meters of tulle.

“Honored and proud to have adorned Queen @beyonce (with) an exceptional headpiece for her grandiose clip,” the design house posted on its Instagram page this week.

The video is a veritable treasure trove of sartorial high points chosen by stylist Zerina Akers, who scored the latest designs from international runways, as well as custom pieces from various high-end brands.

Fashion aside, the album, driven by warm, sultry soul with a largely hip-hop cadence, marries the styles of the two artists but is more consistent with the recent direction of Jay-Z.
The two stars have recorded together previously, notably on the Beyoncé-led single “Drunk in Love,” but the album comes after an especially public window into their marriage.
Beyonce on her last solo album “Lemonade” in 2016 revealed infidelity on the part of Jay-Z, who a year later asked forgiveness on his own album “4:44.”

This year, as the title of “Everything is Love” implies, their relationship is apparently swell.

On the final track, the joyously brassy “Lovehappy,” the two acknowledge past pain but also their efforts to reconcile.

“We’re flawed / But we’re still perfect for each other,” Beyoncé sings.

As two of the most prominent African Americans in pop culture Jay-Z and Beyoncé have played increasingly visible political roles, from campaigning for former president Barack Obama to championing the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Everything is Love” offers a paean to African American identity in “Black Effect,” which opens in Beyoncé fashion with a monologue about self-love before a haunting soul sample.
Jay-Z on the song name-checks Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American shot dead in 2012 by a neighborhood watchman in a Florida gated community, and raps, in a twist on performers’ rote calls for crowd gesticulation, “Get your hands up high like a false arrest.”