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

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.

Rihanna to launch her own luxury fashion label

Updated 17 January 2019

Rihanna to launch her own luxury fashion label

  • Rihanna is in secret talks with the French giant LVMH, according to Women’s Wear Daily
  • LVMH owns brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Givenchy

PARIS: Pop idol Rihanna is preparing to launch her own luxury brand with the world’s biggest fashion conglomerate, according to reports Thursday.
The Barbados-born superstar, who already has her own highly successful Fenty sportswear label, is in secret talks with the French giant LVMH, according to Women’s Wear Daily (WWD).
The industry bible said the group, which owns such iconic brands as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Givenchy, is assembling a gang of top designers for the project.
LVMH, which is owned by the fashion titan Bernard Arnault, said they could not comment.
With her huge fan base and tens of millions of social media followers, Rihanna is one of the most powerful style influencers on the planet.
A regular on the front row of fashion shows, and particularly at Dior in Paris, the singer has also proved herself to be a canny creator.
As well as her Fenty line she upped sales at Puma when she became its creative director and has also dipped her toe into lingerie.
Her Fenty Beauty operation — which involved a hook-up with LVMH — racked up sales of more than $100 dollars (88 million euros) within weeks of its 2016 launch.
WWD said that her planned luxury brand, which will take in ready-to-wear as well as leather goods and accessories, could be launched alongside her ninth album later this year.
A new large-scale luxury label — especially one led by a black woman — would be a huge development in the fashion world.
The top end of the market has been traditionally hogged by historic French and Italian houses.
Despite its dominance, LVMH has not started a luxury brand from scratch since Christian Lacroix in 1987.
Black American designers have, however, been making dramatic inroads of late, with Virgil Abloh the most talked about designer at Paris men’s fashion week.
The creator, whose parents come from Ghana, now heads LVMH’s treasured Louis Vuitton menswear line as well as his own hugely cool Off-White Label.
Rihanna, 30, who shot to fame with her “Music of the Sun” and “Good Girl Gone Bad” albums, is locked in a legal battle with her father over the use of the Fenty name.
She is suing her father Ronald Fenty over the use of the family name in his company, Fenty Entertainment, according to reports on Wednesday.