Meeting of the models: Top Brazilian beauty shares advice with rising Saudi star

Taleedah Tamer made history as the first Saudi couture model on the catwalk during Paris Haute Couture Week this summer. (Getty Images)
Updated 02 August 2018
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Meeting of the models: Top Brazilian beauty shares advice with rising Saudi star

JEDDAH: Brazilian supermodel Isabeli Fontana, who appears on the recent cover of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia wearing a dress by Zuhair Murad, swaps modeling stories with Saudi’s rising star Taleedah Tamer in the summer issue.

The 35-year-old modeling veteran wears a statement dress from Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad’s spring-summer couture collection with a hat by Milan’s Pasquale Bonfilio. She also accessorizes with a Zuhair Murad necklace for another shot inside the magazine.
The Brazilian model is one of the most sought-after names in the fashion industry, having posed for the likes of Victoria’s Secret, Versace, Ralph Lauren and Valentino.
“Such a honor to be on the cover of @harpersBazaarArabia. #StayTrueToYourself #LoveYourself,” she wrote on Instagram alongside an image of the cover.
In the magazine, Fontana shares “three decades of experience with breakthrough Saudi model Taleedah Tamer about life on fashion’s frontline.”
Tamer, who made history as the first Saudi couture model on the catwalk during Paris Haute Couture Week this summer, was interviewed by Arab News last month. Tamer was born and raised in Jeddah; her father is Saudi and her mother is a former Italian model.
Both models discuss how they started in the modeling industry, the role of parents, their use of social media and dealing with fame, among other topics.
“I was 12 years old and my mom put me on a ‘manners course’ because I was a total tomboy,” said Fontana.
“Me too! I’ve never been very feminine,” Tamer said.
Tamer told Fontana that she got into modeling after helping backstage at a fashion show organized by her mother in Saudi Arabia.
“Five years later I was at a dinner and the same designer of that fashion show saw me and said, ‘Wow you’ve grown up and you’re so much taller.’ We did a shoot in the desert and I posted about it on Instagram and that’s how it all started for me,” Tamer said.
Asked for what advice she would give to someone starting in the industry, Fontana said: “This world has changed so much and sometimes it seems that what’s selling right now isn’t natural at all — it’s very plastic and unreal. But I think it’s just a phase. So my best advice would be to just be yourself.”
Fontana said she felt discriminated against for being “too beautiful” and she did not get jobs because of that. Tamer, meanwhile, said she has had her share of negative comments but it has largely been positive.
“I have had negative comments such as ‘Oh, she’s Saudi so she shouldn’t be doing that,’ but I’m grateful because it hasn’t been that bad. I think the majority of our generation is so mature and enlightened. They just want to share positivity and grow and evolve. You’ll always get negative people, but I don’t take it to heart.”


Pakistani tailor adds former US president to star-studded list of clients

Updated 15 February 2019
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Pakistani tailor adds former US president to star-studded list of clients

  • The 36-year-old outfitter has built a customer list of famous names from the sporting, show business and political worlds
  • His family enterprise was established more than 100 years ago and operated from large shop premises in Kolkata, India

KARACHI: It is probably safe to say that tailor to the stars Sarfraz Akbar has the market for celebrity clients all sewn up.

The 36-year-old outfitter has built a customer list of famous names from the sporting, show business and political worlds through his reputation for making high-quality garments.

And now Akbar, who works for his family business at shops in an affluent neighborhood of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, can add a former American president to his star-studded client base.

During a trip to the US in July last year, he was invited by an American-Pakistani friend to meet with George W. Bush.

“I was super-excited when along with my wife and daughters we boarded my friend’s private jet and flew from Houston to Dallas,” Akbar told Arab News.

After taking measurements of the former US president, he returned to Pakistan and made several suits for him, before dispatching them to Dallas in December 2018.

“My happiness doubled when I got a call from the US informing me that the former president had appreciated my work after wearing the suits,” Akbar said.

Akbar’s father Mohammed said his son had built up a distinguished list of Pakistani personalities he has worked for. 

“By earning praise from George W. Bush, my son has not only made me proud but it’s also a matter of pride for all Pakistanis.”

The youngest of three brothers, Akbar has brought fame to the family name and business, his father added.

The family enterprise was established more than 100 years ago and operated from large shop premises in Kolkata. The family moved from the Indian city after the inception of Pakistan.

The business now has two shops under the “Ambassador” brand name in the Zamzama district of Karachi. 

“We could have opened dozens of outlets, but we believe in quality. The materials we use are imported and we focus on precision,” said Akbar. 

“It’s handmade, customized work. We don’t sell readymade stuff.

“However, we’re now getting people coming to us from other cities wanting to have their wardrobes from the tailor of George W. Bush. Some clients even ask to have their photos taken with me.”

Akbar said he has always had big ambitions. Following matriculation in 1999, he continued his studies but opted at the same time to focus on the family business with a view to taking it to new heights after his graduation.

When the Indian cricket team toured Pakistan during 2005-2006, Akbar made clothes for all the Indian players. 

“Almost all the Pakistani players including Wasim Akram, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sarfraz Ahmed and Shahid Afridi — the latter being a regular customer – have worn our wardrobes too,” Akbar said.

He also designed kurta shalwar clothing for West Indian player and Peshawar Zalmi skipper, Darren Sammy, during the last season of the Pakistan Super League.

Akbar also has a long list of political clients including Pakistan’s former leader Pervez Musharraf, incumbent President Dr. Arif Alvi, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Sindh Gov. Imran Ismail. “I made a waistcoat for Imran Khan after he was sworn in as the premier of Pakistan,” he said.

Summing up his achievements to date, Akbar said: “You can be proud of yourself and your family, but you just need to focus on your work and work hard.”