Sonia Ben Ammar rules catwalk at D&G’s NY show

Sonia Ben Ammar (far right) attends the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (AFP)
Updated 10 April 2018

Sonia Ben Ammar rules catwalk at D&G’s NY show

DUBAI: Tunisian model Sonia Ben Ammar — a rising star in the fashion world — walked for Dolce & Gabbana in New York on Sunday. The 19-year-old was part of a dazzling catwalk lineup for the Italian label’s extravagant Spring 2018 Alta Moda Fashion Show at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, alongside superstar models including Karlie Kloss, Ashley Graham, Taylor Hill, Romee Strijd, Karen Nelson, Joan Smalls, and Naomi Campbell.
The audience was equally celeb-replete, with a front row including actors Dakota Fanning, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jamie Foxx and Diane Kruger, alongside Lady Kitty Spencer (D&G’s editorial model and the late Princess Diana’s niece), while Italian actress Isabella Rossellini introduced the show. Rossellini reportedly quoted the famous lines from Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses”. Presumably ironically.
As “Vogue” said in its coverage of the event: “People watching has always been part of the fun of fashion shows, but nothing comes close to D&G Alta events.”
Sunday was the third night of a D&G extravaganza at the Met. On Saturday, the label showed its latest menswear collection, while Friday was jewelry night — with “Sex & The City” star Sarah Jessica Parker modelling.
Paris-born Ammar wore a sparkling metallic silver-grey/black suit and crown tiara for her catwalk appearance (one of the more understated headdresses on display Sunday). She was also joined on the catwalk on Sunday by Somali-American hijabi model Halima Aden, wearing a D&G printed suit. Aden is one of the biggest names in the burgeoning modest-fashion industry, and said on Instagram, “Walking for Dolce & Gabbana was a dream come true.”
Ammar, meanwhile, used her Instagram feed to thank “the geniuses Stefano Gabbana and Domenico, who amaze me every single time!”
Ammar, who splits her off-runway time between Paris and Los Angeles, made her runway debut in 2017 for Miu Miu and quickly found herself in demand from some of the biggest labels around. Aside from her modelling career, she has also appeared in a couple of French movies (no surprise, as her parents are Tunisian director Tarek Ben Ammar and actress Beata), and is keen to launch a music career too. In May 2017, she told “Vogue Arabia” that she had been recording music for “over a year” and that she would release something “soon,” citing Michael Jackson as her musical inspiration. She has previously posted YouTube cover versions of Justin Bieber (she’s apparently good friends with Bieber’s ex, Selena Gomez) and Calvin Harris songs, among others.
In that same interview, she described her style as “eclectic and unfussy,” adding “I like to mix boyish clothes with sexy and elegant pieces, without trying too hard.”
Ammar has even had her own shot at a celeb couple partnership with a twist, having reportedly spent a few months dating Brooklyn Beckham — himself a product of a major-league celeb partnership between football star David and former Spice Girl Victoria. Alas, a second-generation all-star marriage failed to materialize from that romance.

TheFace: Dr. Lama S. Taher, the successful fashion designer whose one dream was not enough

Dr. Lama S. Taher (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 20 April 2018

TheFace: Dr. Lama S. Taher, the successful fashion designer whose one dream was not enough

  • Lacking in financial assistance but armed with grit, perseverance and passion, a young Saudi woman fashion designer launches her own brand while pursuing further studies, and succeed in both

I was born and raised in Riyadh and moved to London in 2004 to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree, followed by a Master’s degree in Mental Health.

Eight years ago, when I started on my Ph.D. in Psychology, I felt compelled to go into fashion design. Armed with grit, perseverance and passion, I took the plunge and launched my own brand, LUM, in May 2010.

I had no financial assistance and no fancy business plans — but I believed in it. No one else did, except my older sister who stood by me.

In spite of its humble beginning, the brand was well-received in the Kingdom and the Gulf region. But my father, a physician, was not convinced. I placed a bet with him, vowing to make substantial sales and revenue within one month. On July 1, 2013, I won that bet, making him my number one supporter.  In 2016, I achieved my academic dream, obtaining a Ph.D. in psychology at City University London.  

But it was not easy. Enduring sleepless nights and homesickness, I persevered to meet high academic demands. Meanwhile, the LUM business continued to flourish.

People asked why a successful fashion designer would pursue a doctorate in psychology. I was constantly asked to pick one — but my heart was in one and my mind was in another. 

Few believed I could achieve both. At times, I too doubted myself.

Today, I am an assistant professor at Dar Al Hekma University in Jeddah, supervising award-winning researchers. I am also a Saudi designer and manager of a successful fashion brand sold in the GCC, New York and Los Angeles.  I share my story to empower women to pursue their dreams, to believe in themselves, to fight for what they want.

People still ask: “Why both?” 

I reply, smiling: “Because one dream was not enough.”