Portuguese designer Tony Miranda heats up AFW

Models walks the runway during the Tony Miranda show in this composite photo. (Arab News)
Updated 12 May 2018

Portuguese designer Tony Miranda heats up AFW

DUBAI: Portuguese designer Tony Miranda brought romance to the catwalk at Arab Fashion Week in Dubai on Friday night.

Over the course of his distinguished career, the haute-couture designer has dressed some of the world’s most glamorous women, including Brigitte Bardot, whom he describes as “a woman ahead of her time.”

“She had a rebel spirit,” Miranda said of the iconic French actress and model. “So dressing her with the aim of achieving a classical effect was a challenge.”

Miranda’s enviable client list also features many stylish Arab men, including royals such as Prince Turki, and the late Prince Saud Al-Faisal was a client.

Speaking of his Middle Eastern male clients, Miranda told Arab News: “The Gulf client is very sophisticated. He knows what he wants and likes, but also values professional opinion. He is concerned not just with the exclusivity of the fabric, but with the smallest detail — down to the particularity of the button.”

He would not be drawn on his extensive list of female clients around the world, saying only that confidentiality is paramount to his relationship with each woman.

Miranda’s stellar career began in Paris, and he credits his mother for nurturing his creative spirit. “My mother was a very important and valuable influence in my life,” he said. “Not just professionally, but also personally, as she always allowed me to dream.”

Aged 18, he joined the house of Joseph Camps, considered one of the greatest masters of French haute couture. “It was a fantastic time when everything was possible,” Miranda said. “This was a time when the body was valued, and accuracy and professionalism went hand-in-hand with design and artistic knowhow.”

In 1967 he joined Ted Lapidus, where he quickly rose to the position of creative director. He launched his own atelier in 1979, quickly followed by his own Tony Miranda boutique on the exclusive Rue Cambon in Paris.

In the late 1980s, however, he brought his talent and training back to Portugal, where he has been a major influence since opening his atelier and boutique in the city of Guimarães in 1989.

He has championed the development of haute couture in his homeland and put Portugal on the international fashion radar. As he expanded his empire of stores and ateliers he continued to attract prestigious clients from the aristocracy and high society and the worlds of entertainment, politics and finance. Many regularly visit his exclusive private lounge in Lisbon.

The fashion industry in his homeland has, he said, “changed dramatically over the last 20 years.”

Arab Fashion Week in Dubai offers another opportunity to see the exquisite designs of this master craftsman who continues to evolve and surprise many, decades on from his haute-couture training in Paris. And he says Gulf women are the focus of the collection in Dubai.

“For my showing,” he explained, “I put a particular focus on the romantic and sophisticated aspects which I think personify UAE women.”

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.