AFW shows modest fashion all the way from Louisville, Kentucky

The Somali-American sisters founded their brand FLLUMAE in February 2014. (FLLUMAE)
Updated 11 May 2018
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AFW shows modest fashion all the way from Louisville, Kentucky

  • The sibling-driven brand has landed on the sunny shores of Dubai and just showed off its Cruise collection aboard the newly-inaugurated Queen Elizabeth II floating hotel
  • The siblings began taking orders from their local community, revamping revealing dresses into covered-up fashion that was still en vogue and not frumpy

DUBAI: The Kentucky-based Saidi sisters are shaking up modest style and proving that faith-friendly fashion is nothing if not funky, fresh and fabulous.

The Somali-American sisters founded their brand FLLUMAE in February 2014 and within a year-and-a-half were showing off their designs at the pinnacle of all things fashion – New York Fashion Week (NYFW).

Now, the sibling-driven brand has landed on the sunny shores of Dubai and just showed off its Cruise collection aboard the newly-inaugurated Queen Elizabeth II floating hotel, as part of the sixth edition of Arab Fashion Week (AFW) in Dubai.

Set to run until May 12, AFW is bringing together 18 international designers from 13 different countries who are showing off their designs in what has been billed as the world’s first floating fashion week.

Founded in Louisville, Kentucky, FLLUMAE started out as a bid to tackle the lack of modest fashion at the time.

“When we were growing up, if we liked a dress we would be like ‘oh my god, I love this dress, but it doesn’t have any sleeves,’ so we would take it home and sew some sleeves on there,” Fahima Saidi, one of the four sisters behind the brand, told Arab News.  

The siblings began taking orders from their local community, revamping revealing dresses into covered-up fashion that was still en vogue and not frumpy.

“Finally, we decided to commit and we took a big risk, we all left our professions to work on this business as designers,” Saidi said, adding that she used to be a medical interpreter before her jump into the fast-paced world of high fashion.

It has been an “amazing journey” since then, and the brand made it to NYFW far sooner than the sisters had planned.

“It happened so quickly, I thought it would take five to seven years to get to the level of presenting at NYFW, but it was a year-and-half and we were there,” she said of their 2016 debut at the coveted fashion event.

“It is one of our favorite moments, because when we presented our collection the whole crowd stood up and clapped for us.”

From the concrete jungle to the lapping waves of Dubai’s Port Mina Rashid, Saidi said the sisters’ decision to take part in AFW was partly motivated by the desire to “help our brand be recognized in that region of the world.”

On Thursday night, models took to the catwalk in FLLUMAE’s signature mix of fringed pants and dresses, gorgeous floral embellishments and bright mix of candy colors — and the crowd lapped it up.

“It is high, mainstream fashion and it caters to women of faith — and not just women of faith, but any woman. You don’t have to be a woman of faith to wear our clothing.

“If you are a modest-clothing wearer, it’s a plus because this line gives you stuff to wear that is fully lined and (you can be) fully-dressed in a comfortable way,” Saidi said.


Interview with the director and stars of ‘The Lion King’

Twenty-five years later, director Jon Favreau has brought “The Lion King” to life again for a new generation. (Supplied)
Updated 18 July 2019
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Interview with the director and stars of ‘The Lion King’

  • Jon Favreau, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner discuss Disney’s latest blockbuster remake.
  • ‘We’re trying to live up to people’s imagination of what they remember ‘Lion King’ being,’ says Favreau.

DUBAI: There are few movies as resonant as Disney’s 1994 classic “The Lion King.” From its beautiful animation and memorable songs by Hans Zimmer and Elton John to its devastating emotional punch, the film has become a touchstone for an entire generation, one of the few films that unite nearly every person who has seen it across the world.

Now, 25 years later, director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “The Jungle Book”) has brought “The Lion King” to life again for a new generation. Sitting in London, the first thing Favreau asks Arab News is whether we were part of the “Lion King” generation, and we were, mentioning to Favreau just how expansive the film still feels to us.

 Chiwetel Ejiofor, Director and Producer Jon Favreau and Donald Glover attend the World Premiere of Disney's "THE LION KING" in Hollywood. (AFP)

“That’s part of the challenge here! We’re trying to live up to people’s imagination of what they remember ‘Lion King’ being. We would watch it next to one another and there’s certain sequences that hold up incredibly well that we tried to follow shot-for-shot like (the opening sequence) ‘Circle of Life,’ but there’s other areas where we had the opportunity to update it and make it feel a bit more grounded in reality,” Favreau tells Arab News.

Remaking it for a new generation seems obvious, but — to borrow from another Disney classic — it was a Herculean task for Favreau and the huge animation team that supported him. This version remains fully animated, but uses cutting-edge technology to make the entire film photo-realistic. The characters, story, and songs remain, but the film looks more like a David Attenborough nature documentary than an animated movie.

It wasn’t just the technology that proved challenging, either. Making sure that audiences still connect with these beloved characters without the expressiveness of classic Disney animation was something that gave Favreau pause.

(Supplied)

“I worked on ‘Jungle Book,’ so I had some experience in this area,” he says. “Pretty early on, we got to try some different things and when you go to human, you think it would make you feel more but it really feels kind of bizarre, at least to me. I was limited if we were to go photo-real. If you go stylized like Pixar it’s great, you can do whatever you want. If we go ‘Madagascar’ you can make them stick their tongues out. The minute you start hitting photorealism, you hit the uncanny valley when you push the performances beyond what the real animal could do. Part of what makes it look so real is we limited what we allowed the animators to do.”

To be sure that audiences would connect with the characters, Favreau relied a lot on the voices that supported them, bringing in an all-star cast including Beyoncé as Nala, Donald Glover as Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa.

“If you look at a character like Pumbaa, to me he’s the most fun example, because when people saw pictures of Pumbaa they were like, ‘Oh my god! That’s horrifying! That thing looks like a monster!’ But when you watch the movie and you hear Seth Rogen’s voice coming out of it and the way the animators animated his body and what the character represents and feels, you have a tremendous connection to it. It’s a testament to the power of using techniques that we borrowed from documentaries or other films, where we limit ourselves to not anthropomorphize the characters,” says Favreau.

(Supplied) 

Eichner and Rogen both tried to remain true to the characters, but also stay true to themselves. “My idea from the beginning was that Jon cast us for a reason,” says Eichner. “He could have cast pretty much any actors. Anyone would have killed to do these roles and be in this movie. It wasn’t the right time to try a new persona. It would have been very strange had I all of a sudden had a deep resonant baritone. I figured he wants Seth to sound like Seth and me to sound like me — or at least what our public comic personas sound-like — and hopefully they’ll complement each other, which they did. Our goal was not to try a new character but to be as funny as possible together.”

As funny as Rogen and Eichner are in the film, it is still aimed firmly at kids — something Rogen hadn’t really considered prior.

Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen at the World Premiere of Disney's "THE LION KING" in Hollywood . (AFP)

“It wasn’t something that even occurred to me until we were making the movie and I was performing the bully scene,” he says. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is for kids!’ I have never done anything that was ever trying to instill any wisdom into kids in any way shape or form.”

The film’s wisdom, like the original, is far-reaching, exploring truths not only of family and loss, but of the corrupting nature of ambition and power, which Ejiofor explored in his role as Scar.

“Often, when people are obsessed with power and status, they aren’t really worried about what they do with it, they’re just concerned about getting it. It’s not something that’s connected to any kind of nurturing aspect for a community or anybody else. It becomes about the nature of obsession — obsession with power and status, and maybe status more than power, even though they are related,” says Ejiofor. “That’s one of the things that’s engaging and fun about the film and its themes.”