‘Stories from Arabia’ weaves its magic at London Fashion Week

An image from 'Stories From Arabia' show at LFW. (Supplied)
Updated 19 February 2019
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‘Stories from Arabia’ weaves its magic at London Fashion Week

  • “Stories from Arabia” took place on Saturday
  • It was a multi-designer show

LONDON: Arab designers showed off their talent on the side-lines of London Fashion Week with a rich show of their new collections.

The event, dubbed “Stories from Arabia,” took place earlier this week in the palatial surroundings of the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in the heart of London’s Covent Garden where a packed-out audience of enthusiastic fashionistas were treated to a parade of cutting edge fashion. From the fresh, young, stylish street wear of Kuwaiti label EAU to the stunning, jewel-colored gowns by Omani label Atelier Zuhra, there was something for everyone.

Perhaps the most beautiful designs of the night were those of Kuwaiti designer Najwa Al-Fadhli. The models — with their translucent, radiant faces and wavy hair brought to mind the rich, languid society girls of The Great Gatsby — drifted down the catwalk in shimmering gowns that seemed to float in the air. Al-Fadhli chose a soft, pearlescent color palette for her latest collection.

She spoke to Arab News backstage and explained why she chose to take part in the show.  

“This experience is important because it connects me to Europe,” she said.

She added that her Autumn/Winter 2019 collection, titled “Unexpected Dreams,” is a celebration of femininity and embodies her belief that all women should have the chance to live out their deepest desires.

Giving off a completely different vibe was the exuberant, stylish street wear of EAU. These looks can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion, and have an effortless appeal. The fabrics used in the collection include cotton, tulle and scuba with flashes of fuschia and pink adding youthful zest. The phrase “Don’t Judge Me,” appears in the collection, symbolizing the designer’s desire for more empathy in the world.

Another spectacular showing was that of Atelier Zuhra of Oman. Designer Rayan Al-Sulaimani spoke to Arab News about the inspiration behind the sculpted gowns in brilliant primary shades of red, purple, green, blue and yellow. All, she explained, were based on gemstones — sapphires, rubies, emeralds, amethysts and citrine.

Asked to describe the fashion scene in the Gulf, Al-Sulaimani said: “It is very competitive and we are seeing a lot of Arab designers, each with their distinct talent, showcasing their work internationally.”

The founder of the event, Jalila Elmastouki, was equally impressed by the talent on show and elaborated on her plans to expand the “Stories from Arabia” platform beyond the British capital.

 “Building on our success at London Fashion Week, we want to take ‘Stories from Arabia’ to New York, Milan and Paris. We want people to see the talent of Arab designers and how they can bring something new to the fashion industry,” she said.


Millions of women still landless despite global push for equality

Updated 4 min 35 sec ago
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Millions of women still landless despite global push for equality

  • Throughout rural areas in Zimbabwe, for example, widows routinely find themselves harassed and exploited by in-laws claiming the property their husbands left behind
WASHINGTON: Millions of women worldwide are still unable to access and own land despite laws recognizing their rights, researchers and campaigners said on Monday as they urged countries to bridge the gap between policy and practice.
Patriarchal attitudes toward women and girls and a lack of knowledge of their own rights “prevent millions of women from owning land,” said Victoria Stanley, senior rural development specialist at the World Bank.
“Only 30 percent of the world’s population own land titles, and women are often the least likely to have any land registered,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of a World Bank conference in Washington, D.C.
“Stand for her land,” a campaign launched on Monday by the World Bank and advocacy groups including Landesa and Habitat for Humanity International, aims to change that by promoting better implementation of land laws for women.
Globally, more than 400 million women farm, yet only about 15 percent of farmland is owned by women, according to Landesa.
That inequality exposes women to all manner of rights abuses, rights activists say.
Throughout rural areas in Zimbabwe, for example, widows routinely find themselves harassed and exploited by in-laws claiming the property their husbands left behind.
Although Zimbabwe’s constitution gives women and men equal rights to property and land, in many rural communities tradition overrides national legislation, experts say.
Godfrey Massey of Landesa Tanzania said the existence of laws in itself does not necessarily translate into better access to land for women.
“Women can own land just as men, but few women are aware of this in Tanzania,” he said, calling for more initiatives at the community level to raise awareness of land rights.
“We’ve seen trainings lead to a rise in women joining village land councils or realizing that their husband can’t mortgage the family land without their consent,” he said.
Rajan Samuel of Habitat for Humanity India said that efforts to improve land rights must acknowledge cultural norms like India’s centuries-old Hindu caste system.
“You can have all the policies in the world, if you don’t engage the community from day one you won’t succeed,” he said.