Lana El-Sahely gets biker chic in Paris

The Dior SS'19 show was an ethereal treat. (AFP)
Updated 26 September 2018

Lana El-Sahely gets biker chic in Paris

  • Lana El-Sahely showed off her style at Paris Fashion Week
  • Dior led Paris Fashion Week with a new modern dance piece by choreographer Sharon Eyal

DUBAI: Lebanese fashion blogger Lana El-Sahely showed off her style at Paris Fashion Week, posing for cameras at the coveted Dior show earlier this week.

Dior led Paris fashion week on a sensual dance Monday with a spectacular show woven around a new modern dance piece by choreographer Sharon Eyal to kick off the nine-day extravaganza.

For her part, El-Sahely wore a quirky patchwork skirt paired with a leather biker jacket over a delicate lace top. She finished off the look with a peaked cap and chunky boots.

On the catwalk, icily restrained models brushed past writhing dancers in a performance specially created by the acclaimed Israeli in a fog of mist and falling paper petals.

Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri told AFP that using dance was “an act of liberation” to break free from the catwalk corset.

Gucci — which quit Milan for the French capital to show its spring summer collection — later got in on the act by taking over a Paris theater and having singer Jane Birkin, her back turned to most of the audience, sing her 1983 hit “Baby Alone in Babylone.”

With K-pop superstar Kai mobbed outside by fans, Gucci’s designer Alessandro Michele served up an extra large helping of the oddball 1970s kitsch which has made him such a hit with millennials.

Mickey Mouse manbags, wacky Y-fronts, sleeping mask shades, underpants on the outside of slacks and medallions as big as mayoral chains are only a taster of some of the wacky new looks fashion’s jester-in-chief pulled from his wide-brimmed hat.

His playful, luxuriant bad taste could not be further from Chiuri’s earnest elegance.

Chiuri said she wanted to replicate dance’s “naturalness... but also its discipline” in a striking manner.

Meanwhile, Saint Laurent headlined the second day of Paris Fashion Week in an eclectic French twist on American styles that featured models walking on water.

Tuesday’s Spring/Summer collections also showcased emerging talents: from 26-year-old designer Marine Serre to the Tokyo-based house Anrealage, The Associated Press reported.

Stars such as Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Matt Dillon and Salma Hayek huddled together in front of 10 giant white palm trees as the Eiffel Tower sparkled at the stroke of 8 p.m.

Below the trees was a giant expanse of water.

Models in luxury snake boots and sparkling disco heels suddenly appeared and — forgoing the dry catwalk strip — darted sideward to walk straight across the water.

It triggered gasps from spectators, including a tardy Lindsay Lohan.

But behold, the models didn’t sink. Instead, they merely sloshed and splashed.

Designer Anthony Vaccarello was applauded for an impressive biblical-style trompe l’oeil feature for the 15-minute show that created the illusion of a sea despite the water measuring only two centimeters in depth.

One American fashion editor duly commented that designers are “ruining a lot of perfectly good shoes with these water effects this season.”


The MENA fashion designers dressing up social causes

Updated 24 August 2019

The MENA fashion designers dressing up social causes

  • How designers in the MENA region are making a different kind of fashion statement
  • The ethical fashion movement is spreading to the Middle East and North Africa

CAIRO: Fashion is about far more than just trendy outfits. The growing demand for ethical clothing is one example of how designers are seeking to leave a legacy beyond the runway.

The ethical fashion movement is spreading to the Middle East and North Africa. Recent initiatives include Talahum by UAE-based designer Aiisha Ramadan, who created coats that transform into sleeping bags for disadvantaged and refugee communities living without proper shelter.

In 2016, Cairo hosted ICanSurvive, an event to commemorate World Cancer Day. As part of the project, 32 cancer survivors were paired with fashion designers to help them create the outfit of
a lifetime.

“I consider this to be one of my biggest achievements,” said Egyptian couturier Ahmed Nabil, 28, one of the volunteers at ICanSurvive. “I still can’t let go of the moment I saw her crying from happiness when she got to wear her outfit at the event.”

Though a transformational experience for Nabil, this was not his first attempt at thought-provoking designs. He was only 23 when he launched his company, Nob Designs, in 2014 to begin a journey of exploration by designing clothes for unconventional causes and experimental concepts.

The company sells a diverse set of fashion pieces with designs that aim to inspire conversation. Nabil’s creations are much like art pieces at a gallery, but instead of being displayed on canvas, they are exhibited on t-shirts, tops, dresses and abayas.

His latest collection combines street fashion inspired by underground culture with Arabic calligraphy. The Halal Project endeavors to blur the lines between conservative and edgy to demonstrate that fashion designs can be accessible to anyone.

“It’s all about the idea of accepting one another regardless of differences,” Nabil said. “My main aim for this project is a call for all people to peacefully coexist.”

Nabil added that the shift towards tolerance is not something that just the general public needs to work on. Fashion designers themselves are sometimes biased in their perceptions.

Many millennial designers, particularly in Egypt, remain wary of exploring modest fashion, despite the trend’s rising popularity. Sometimes it is because they want to avoid defining themselves as conservative instead of being considered modern and trendy.

Fellow Egyptian designer Sara Elemary, who has been running her Sara Elemary Designs label for nearly a decade, agrees.

“Modesty is a big thing in Egypt. I can’t understand why they are neglecting it,” she said. “A woman doesn’t have to be in a headscarf to wear modest clothing. There are so many famous designers for whom modesty plays a big role in
their work.”

Meanwhile, events such as Dubai Modest Fashion Week have been promoting the concept and encouraging budding designers in the region to consider this trending domain.

“I believe that there’s a problem with modest fashion, but over the past two years, that issue has started to diminish as designers have incorporated more modest designs in their collections,” Nabil said.

The next step for him is getting into the couture domain with his long-awaited project, Nob Couture. The look of the new collection is still a mystery, but he seems determined to continue sending messages and starting discussions through his designs, which he said are inspired by his life experiences.

As for designers in the region, the time is ripe for them to start supporting the causes they believe in through their work. Whatever topic or fashion style they decide to pursue, they need to be fearless in triggering conversation in the Arab world with their creations.