Lebanon’s Ashi Studio takes over Cannes

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone took to the red carpet on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 12 May 2018

Lebanon’s Ashi Studio takes over Cannes

  • Lebanese design house Ashi Studio is taking over the red carpet at Cannes
  • Bollywood star Deepika Padukone chose to wear the brand

DUBAI: Lebanese design house Ashi Studio is pulling out all the stops at the Cannes Film Festival and has already dressed two international stars for their jaunt on the red carpet.
Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone took to the red carpet on Friday before the screening of the film “Ash is Purest White (Jiang hu er nv)” at the 71st edition of the festival. She statuesque star wore magenta Ashi Studio gown and could not stop smiling, giggling and apparently enjoying herself in the larger-than-life dress.
Her face was framed by huge pink ruffles, while the train of the voluminous, tiered skirt seemed almost never ending — she took special care as she strode up the famous steps at the film festival, taking the hand of a lucky usher who was presumably more than happy to help.
The brand also dressed British-Thai actress Araya Hargate for the same premiere. Hargate wore dramatic feathered jumpsuit with a V-shaped plunging neckline.
The white outfit stood out in a sea of traditional gowns due to its bootleg cut and heaping of fine, feathery wisps. Although the Abominable Snowman does come to mind, Hargate’s expertly curated jewelry and tight up-do place this outfit just on the right side of the blurred line between high fashion and hilarity.
Women are making headlines at Cannes, and thankfully it isn’t just for their outfits. They are the heroes of a new wave of films at the film festival, where Hollywood’s #MeToo moment may have just spawned its first big budget all-female blockbuster.
AFP reported that Jessica Chastain caused a stir Thursday by revealing a dream team cast of female talent including Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Lupita Nyong’o of “Black Panther” fame and Fan Bingbing for her new $75-million Bond-style caper called “355.”
The “Interstellar” and “Zero Dark Thirty” star said she came up with the idea after serving on the Cannes jury last year where she found the depiction of women in the line-up “quite disturbing.”
With little or no female-led action films in Cannes’ more commercial market, she decided to do something about it.
The top secret project leaked out when the A-listers were spotted meeting potential backers in a five-star Cannes hotel.
Chastain quickly went public, tweeting: “Top secret no more. Mission accepted.” And she walked out in style with her co-stars to promote the project.
“I love ‘Jason Bourne,’ the Bond films and ‘Mission Impossible,’ and I asked myself why, apart from ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ there has never been a female spy movie like that,” she said.
While fellow Hollywood stars Cate Blanchett and Kristen Stewart — who lead this year’s majority female jury — have been preaching empowerment at Cannes, other women are doing it for themselves in a series of new movies at the festival.
They go from an Icelandic eco-warrior outrunning the island’s army to Kurdish women fighters battling Daesh.
“Girls of the Sun,” with Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani heading a brigade of Yazidi women out for revenge on extremists, is only one of a number of estrogen-fueled films where women go well beyond the cinematic stereotypes.
Another contender in the running for the Palme d’Or top prize — Jia Zhangke’s “Ash is the Purest White” — has a young dancer pick up a pistol to defend her man from rival Chinese mobsters.
And among the festival’s most praised films so far is “One Day,” which follows a Hungarian working mother through a grueling 36 hours as she tries to juggle her job with the demands of her three children and a husband who may be about to stray.
The Hollywood Reporter raved about how it makes “painfully visible how much self-effacing effort goes into... the least appreciated job on the planet: being a mother.”
“No one thanks her but everyone expects her to remember and do a million little things every day,” it added.

SemSem’s Ramadan line has a charitable twist

US-Somali model Halima Aden has worked with SemSem in the past.
Updated 22 May 2018

SemSem’s Ramadan line has a charitable twist

Famed French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent once said that the city of Marrakesh taught him color. It seems that the Moroccan city has struck again, serving as the inspiration for SemSem’s bold Ramadan line this season.

With its mélange of cultural currents and cosmopolitan charge, the bustle of Marrakesh is manifest in SemSem’s red-based collection. A brassy fire-engine trench and gilded-blush maxi are among the highlights of the edit, available exclusively at luxury e-tailers The Modist and Ounass.

For those seeking bold, iftar-appropriate looks this season, SemSem’s berry-red jumpsuit or high-low hemmed jacquard top are both beautiful, souk-inspired statement pieces.  Floral prints appearing throughout the collection recall the Majorelle garden, Saint Laurent’s lush Marrakesh property. 

Separates, including tailored pants befitting the refined city-stroller, can be paired with the collection’s pleated tops or layered for dramatic effect. 

Self-consciously eschewing derivatives of slouched kaftans, the pieces all feature refined, structured cuts. True to the brand’s aesthetic, SemSem’s Ramadan collection is an unabashed ode to modern, metropolitan femininity.

 Founder Abeer Al-Otaiba, who originally hails from Egypt, says this year’s Ramadan edit was “deeply personal.

“I wanted it to be beautiful, impactful and reflective of my heritage,” Al-Otaiba said.  “I enjoy the sense of purpose Ramadan represents and I try to embrace all that it has to offer. Creating this collection is an extension of this time of introspection and celebration.”

A dedicated philanthropist with a degree in civil engineering and stints spent living across the Middle East, Europe and America, Al-Otaiba created SemSem in 2015 as a way to celebrate women and children across the globe. Bestowing the label with her daughter’s nickname, Al-Otaiba’s vision has allowed SemSem to mature in a few short years, emerging at the forefront of the luxury, ready-to-wear market.

With lines for both women and girls, the brand has become a favorite of multi-tasking mothers seeking balance and an elegant wardrobe with a charitable sense of purpose. Every season, Al-Otaiba teams up with a non-profit promoting the well-being of women and children. 

This year, 10 percent of the sales from the brand’s Ramadan collection sold at Ounass will go to causes supported by the Dubai Cares charity.

Previously, Al-Otaiba sought to raise awareness about maternal mortality rates and youth illiteracy, supporting organizations working across Africa to empower women and children. 

Insisting on the confluence of doing good and dressing well, SemSem has become a celebrity favorite, worn by conscientious Hollywood moms like Blake Lively and Kourtney Kardashian. 

Showing at Paris Fashion Week and regularly written up in Vogue, SemSem has brought a jet-set chic to mother-daughter wear. 

But the line’s ethos isn’t about red-carpet glitter. Encouraging mothers to instill a sense of global awareness and dedication to philanthropy in their daughters lies at the heart of SemSem’s mission. It’s a perfect conversation — and the perfect conversation-provoking ensembles— to have this Ramadan season.