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.


Nora Attal has her day in the sun in Marrakesh

Updated 19 March 2019
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Nora Attal has her day in the sun in Marrakesh

DUBAI: British-Moroccan model Nora Attal posed up a storm in Marrakesh’s golden sunlight for a new campaign by fashion brand Zara.

The in-demand model shared snaps from the campaign, photographed by Christian Macdonald, on her Instagram account.

The collection of photographs show Attal modelling looks from Zara’s laid-back Spring/Summer 2019 collection against a backdrop of rippling sand dunes. Her featured ensembled include kaftans and long-length cardigans with hefty stripes in a clay-and-beige color palette.

Attal is no stranger to fronting campaigns — in January, the model was chosen as one of seven rising stars to feature in British fashion house Alexander McQueen’s latest campaign.

The Spring/Summer 2019 collection photoshoot was shot by British fashion and documentary photographer Jamie Hawkesworth and featured Attal wearing a number of cowboy-inspired looks.

The year has gotten off to a busy start for Attal, who was similarly in demand in 2018, when she took to the catwalk for Elie Saab, Loewe and Dior during Paris Fashion Week in September and starred in Italian fashion label Versace’s summer advert campaign.

In May, luxury e-retailer Farfetch launched in the Middle East with a little help from the young model.

She starred in a photoshoot wearing pieces from collections on sale on the platform. The colorful photographs were accompanied by a snappy, chatty interview with the young model.
Readers got the chance to gain insight into her earliest fashion memories and learn some off-the-cuff facts about the star.

“Recently I’ve been obsessed with noughties trends. Everyone was so cool and effortless back then. Now I go out in a full Juicy Couture tracksuit with no shame,” she told Farfetch at the time.

“If I wasn’t a model, I’d probably be at university, studying to get into something like criminal investigations, profiling or law,” she added.

Attal finished off 2018 by hitting the sand dunes in the UAE — however, this time it wasn’t part of a high-end photoshoot, but rather a day of fun.

The model enjoyed an afternoon of sandboarding in the emirate of Sharjah and even posted a snap on Instagram at the time.

“Apparently sandboarding is a thing,” she captioned the sunset shot.