81 Designs: A social enterprise that marries art with women’s empowerment

The women recreated art by Hassan Hajjaj. (Photo courtesy: 81 Designs)
Updated 09 July 2018
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81 Designs: A social enterprise that marries art with women’s empowerment

DUBAI: It started with a desire to bridge art and humanity. Emirati art graduate Nadine Malouf always wanted to do something charitable and art-related. Being half-Palestinian, setting up an enterprise that helps women affected by the refugee crisis in Palestine seemed an obvious choice, so she founded 81 Designs together with her mother, Nesrine El-Tibi Malouf, in 2016.

The brand oversees a group of refugee women as they recreate the works of leading Middle Eastern artists in the traditional “tatreez” style of cross-stitching.
The results created using this painstaking technique are as innovative as they are beautiful.

“I wanted to modernize something that has existed for hundreds of years and its legacy was fading because of the commercial uses it is being applied for,” Nadine explained. “The way the craft is usually applied (in run-of-the-mill accessories and poorly made handicraft products) is a short-sighted approach.
But we are providing a wider platform for it.”

The first capsule collection debuted at Art Dubai in 2017, in partnership with renowned artist El Seed, and sold out. This year, Moroccan contemporary artist Hassan Hajjaj worked with the women to have 14 signature pieces from his funky, nostalgia-infused “Graffix from the Souk” collection recreated in the form of embroidery art. The collection was released at the 12th edition of Art Dubai to a very warm reception — each piece was uniformly priced at $8,000.

“I think the fact that we are able to give these women structure in their lives, that they have full-time employment in such a volatile environment, is something to be proud of,” Nadine said. “Plus, by giving them the opportunity to create something, be part of something — it gives them a feeling of self-esteem, a sense of joy.”

From allowing them to get medical treatment for their families to giving an autistic child the opportunity to secure meaningful employment, the impact 81 Designs has had is significant and far-reaching. And it continues to grow, as they develop their next collection with textile label Bokja by designers Maria Hibri and Huda Baroudi.


Shanina Shaik stars in campaign for Revolve

Victoria’s Secret model Shanina Shaik. (AFP)
Updated 15 July 2018
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Shanina Shaik stars in campaign for Revolve

DUBAI: She may not be at Miami Swim Week, but Victoria’s Secret model Shanina Shaik certainly got into the spirit on Instagram, posting shots from her trip to Bermuda with US-based e-tail platform Revolve and giving a special mention to the swimwear event.
“Because it’s swim week,” Shaik captioned a photo of herself wearing a red-and-white vertically striped bikini, by swimwear label Tularosa, against a rocky backdrop in Bermuda. Miami Swim Week is set to continue until July 17 and sees swimwear designers from across the world show off their latest perfect-for-the-pool creations on the sunny shores of the Floridian city.
However, the model is on another sun-drenched shoreline for a photoshoot and launch party celebrating a collaboration between clothing brands The Naven Twins and NBD in Bermuda this week.
Shaik, whose father is Pakistani and mother is Lithuanian-Australian, wasn’t the only fashionable it-girl on the island, however. Revolve handpicked a group of stylish influencers and models to star in the Bermudian snaps.
Designer and marketing guru Draya Michele, model Kara Del Toro and influencer Jill Wallace also took part in the color-packed photoshoot.

When I spot the icecream shop ! @revolve #revolvearoundtheworld

A post shared by SHANINA SHAIK (@shaninamshaik) on

For her part, Shaik starred in a series of shots wearing a glittering array of beach-ready outfits. In one windswept photo, the model wears a lilac bandeau top with draped sleeves, paired with a jungle-print pair of high-waisted shorts — “a real-life mermaid,” the Revolve social media team captioned the picture on Instagram.
Revolve carries more than 500 menswear and womenswear brands and has a dedicated beauty section on its website, revolve.com. Launched in 2003, the e-tail website claims to have 40 million page visits per month, so it makes sense that Shaik, an already successful runway model, would jump on the bandwagon.
Shaik is newly married, having tied the knot with musician DJ Ruckus at a family-filled ceremony in the Bahamas in May. The couple promptly followed it up with a bash in Miami that was attended by likes of Bella Hadid and model Hailey Baldwin.
The model married her long-time beau Gregory Andrews on musician Lenny Kravitz’s private island of Eleuthera.
Reverend Run of Run DMC performed the ceremony as family, friends and a handful of celebrity guests gathered for the nuptials, including Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross, as well as models Nadine Leopold and Hannah Ferguson.
The happy couple got engaged in December 2015 after dating for less than a year. He reportedly presented her with two Lorraine Schwartz rings and let her take her pick. She eventually chose a gold band that featured an amethyst and a diamond, according to media reports.