Barbara Tfank brings her signature look to Harrods

Barbara Tfank brings her signature look to Harrods
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Barbara Tfank brings her signature look to Harrods
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Barbara Tfank brings her signature look to Harrods
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Barbara Tfank brings her signature look to Harrods
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Barbara Tfank brings her signature look to Harrods
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Updated 15 September 2015

Barbara Tfank brings her signature look to Harrods

Barbara Tfank brings her signature look to Harrods

Barbara Tfank designs the kind of clothes that women dream of wearing; elegant and timeless in wonderful, richly textured fabrics sourced from Italy and France. Arab News caught up with Tfank in London this week; she was in the capital for the launch of her collection at Harrods in the midst of preparing for her upcoming show at New York Fashion Week.
She looked immaculate in one of her own beautifully cut, jewel-like dresses. What was immediately notable was that Tfank wears her clothes — the clothes do not wear her, and that is something that the top fashion people already know. It’s why you see leading fashion editors from, for example, Vogue wearing her designs. The clothes confer effortless elegance of the kind associated with Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly or Elizabeth Taylor.
It’s a testimony to her reputation that First Lady Michelle Obama wears her designs. Tfank recalled how her husband e-mailed her early one morning to inform her that he had just turned on the TV (he was visiting relatives in England) only to see Michelle Obama meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace in one of her dresses.
She subsequently had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Obama, and naturally, felt a little apprehensive. She received a call from James Costos, now serving as US Ambassador to Spain, who sought to reassure her about what to expect during the meeting. He told her that Mrs. Obama is a very warm and friendly person and that she should relax and be ‘laid back’ about the upcoming meeting. Tfank laughed as she recalled her response: “Laid back! I can’t be ‘laid back’ — I’m from New York!” she told the ambassador.
However, when she came face to face with Mrs. Obama, Tfank found her nerves dissolving as the First Lady complimented her on her talent and gave her a great confidence boost by saying how much she loved wearing her clothes. She subsequently acted as a mentor at the first ever Fashion Education Workshop held by Mrs. Obama at the White House.
Recently, at the State of the Union Address, Mrs. Obama looked stunning in a Tfank sapphire blue twill dress which she wore for the President’s State of the Union address in the House of Representatives.
“When Mrs. Obama was photographed in a sea of people wearing dark suits she looked luminescent,” remarked Tfank.
Tfank has a fast growing reputation as a sought after designer but it’s a path that she had to make a determined effort to follow. After receiving her BA from Skidmore College and MA from Stanford University, she initially worked in museums. But in her mid-twenties she came to a point where she knew she had to change her career track.
“I knew I had to change my career, and I remember saying to my family ‘I’m going into fashion’ and they said ‘Oh my goodness! After all that education!’
But she had the courage to follow her instincts and this ability to embrace change and be flexible served her well in a career that saw her moving between fashion and film.
“I was able to segue quite effortlessly,” she said.
Her work as a stylist brought her to prominence when she dressed the actress Uma Thurman for the Oscars in 1995. Tfank dressed Thurman in a flowing lilac Prada gown with a chiffon wrap. It was a triumph — high fashion on the red carpet.
“They say it was the moment that changed Oscar dressing. The image went onto the cover of Women’s Wear Daily which was amazing for me. I was a design consultant — I wasn’t expecting anything from it,” recalled Tfank.
Her experience in the film industry gave her special insights into what works and what doesn’t when it comes to dressing for the Oscars.
“It was the most brilliant education imaginable. I learnt about lighting and how fabric looks during the day and the evening. One of my big observations about the Oscars is that so often when all that flash bulb lighting hits a dress it just washes it out. You hear people saying – ‘Oh, that daffodil yellow was so beautiful! And you think — ‘Daffodil yellow? — it looked white!’
Her eye for design also benefitted from some extraordinary mentoring during her early training from the revered American fashion and portrait photographer, Richard Avedon.
“He was such a genius. He used to show me photographs of Dovima (the celebrated 1950s American model) in Paris. I was just a New York kid and I landed up in his studio and he was pulling me aside and showing me photos because he knew I loved the history of fashion. I was fascinated by what people wore in different decades. I loved wearing all my mother’s clothes — I was doing vintage before anyone,” she said.
The influence of her mother is something Tfank recognizes as being very important in nurturing her early love of fashion.
“I was very lucky to have a mother who loved clothes and loved to shop. I was taken by my mother one summer to my very first fashion show which was Chanel couture in Paris. I was a teenager and I remember being so stimulated. Couture shows at that time were very quiet and there were only important customers present. The models were amazing. I remember my mother having to tell me ‘calm down!’. I noticed everything; I remember asking her why all the models wore beige shoes with black tips and she told me it was because this style elongated the leg. I was, in fact, getting a very good instruction. I also accompanied my mother to Hermes; my mother was buying and I was looking and learning.
“Our relatives were very chic women and I saw them wearing Yves Saint Laurent. They loved the fact that I was so interested in fashion because they were working in that area as well,” she reflected.
All of this rich experience and exposure to the very best that the design world has to offer made Tfank determined to stay true to the core elements of couture that involve a respect for cut and understanding of fabrics that cannot be acquired without hard work, talent and dedication.
“When I decided to set up my own company I thought: “I must respect the past. I will do what is modern and cool and elegant but I have to bring forward the smart things that people used to do; the way they cut clothes. Because today things can look very sloppy,” she commented.
This disciplined approach and refusal to compromise on quality paid off.
“I was very lucky; my very first collection was bought by Barneys in New York. Everyone was wearing black at the time and I came in with brocade, and they said, ‘This is fantastic! Where did you find this?”
Ladies all over the world will be glad to hear that Tfank designs for a wide range of shapes and sizes. It’s something she feels quite passionate about — she feels that fashion is something that should be available to all.
“I feel fashion has been quite prejudiced. I am a woman designing for women and there are a lot of men designing for women who don’t think about the things that women think about. I have a lot of knowledge about what makes women happy and feel good about themselves. I love working with people of all sizes,” she said.
Singer Adele can testify to her ability to create designs that bring out the best in women regardless of their dress size. Tfank was asked by Vogue to design a dress for Adele for the Grammy Awards when she appeared after making her first album.
“She was nineteen years old — she had just made her first album and had been nominated. She came in wearing a loose tunic and when I saw her hour glass figure I said, ‘Adele — we are going to cinch you in at the waist.’
“She embraces her body — she is not insecure. People who are a size zero are more insecure than she is. It’s unfair to expect everyone to be a size zero,” she observed.
Another aspect of Tfank clothes that many women appreciate is that they are cut to perfectly accommodate jewelry. “They love that I make necklines that are appropriate for necklaces and I do bracelet length sleeves,” said Tfank who herself loves to wear jewelry.
Women also appreciate the exclusivity. They can be confident when wearing a Tfank creation that they will never have the experience of turning up to an event only to see another women in the same outfit.
“All the garments are made in the US — in New York and Los Angeles. There are no short-cuts for production; each piece is cut individually, by hand — we don’t do mass manufacturing. Because it is so exclusive you don’t ever run the risk of going to a party and seeing someone else in the same outfit. In a way that’s worked to my advantage because there are lots of brands that are much better known than mine but women come to me because they value the exclusivity,” she said. Tfank plans to take her wonderful designs that include a range of beautiful cocktail coats that can be worn either formally or informally (Sharon Stone teamed hers with jeans) to the Middle East market.
As she explained: “I am working with Niche Arabia which is a wonderful organization. We met at the White House which is an auspicious beginning for an association! I’m hoping to go to the region and expand into that part of the world. I have met a lot of people in Saudi and Dubai. The Middle East is such an important influence — I see the influence in décor and textiles. The culture has such a history of beauty and richness.”
She is planning to visit Saudi soon where she is sure to find a warm welcome from women who appreciate beautifully made clothes which are guaranteed to make the wearer feel and look like a million dollars.
Barbara Tfank is planning to be at Harrods on Sept. 27,28 ,29 and 30 where she will be available to meet and greet customers. Her collection can be seen on the Harrods website.

Email: [email protected]

Lebanon’s financial collapse hits where it hurts - women’s beauty

Lebanon’s financial collapse hits where it hurts - women’s beauty
Plastic surgery in Lebanon is still priced in US dollars, just as they were before the collapse of the national currency. (AFP)
Updated 20 April 2021

Lebanon’s financial collapse hits where it hurts - women’s beauty

Lebanon’s financial collapse hits where it hurts - women’s beauty
  • Cosmetic surgery decreases, botox remains indispensable

BEIRUT: The face mask, used as a measure against the spread of COVID-19, has forced Lebanese women to change their beauty and make-up habits.

The array of cosmetics that were usually worn have been stripped back to merely mascara because socializing is out and social distancing is in.

But the beauty regimes of Lebanese women have been affected by the country’s financial crisis as much as the global health crisis.

Lebanon’s cosmetic and plastic surgery sectors, which are leaders in the Middle East region, are also feeling the pinch.

Dr. Elie Abdel Hak, who is head of the Lebanese Society of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery, said the sector had experienced a decline.

“Reconstructive surgeries make up no more than 4 percent of our work, while the largest percentage is for cosmetic surgeries for women looking for perfection,” he told Arab News.

Medical centers and cosmetic doctors are scattered across Lebanon and are not confined to Beirut. Specialisms include plastic surgery, non-surgical plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery.

The internet is loaded with addresses of beauty centers in Lebanon offering packages for cosmetic surgery with accommodation, even tourism and entertainment programs.

“There are 104 plastic surgeons in Lebanon, 50 percent of whom have branches outside Lebanon, specifically in Gulf countries,” said Abdel Hak. No doctors had quit Lebanon, he added, they were just moving between home and their clinics abroad. “This helps them continue to pump fresh money into their work in Lebanon.”

Plastic surgery in Lebanon is still priced in US dollars, just as they were before the collapse of the national currency. While other medical disciplines have reduced their profit rates to keep up with people’s living conditions, some cosmetic doctors are still charging their clients in dollars.

“Pharmacies do not sell botox injections or filler substances, there are intermediaries between the importer and the doctor,” said pharmacist Samer Sobra, who owns a business on upscale Verdun Street.

He noted an ease in demand for the creams used after filler injections. They were being imported in smaller quantities than usual as they were excluded from state support.

“This means that these small cosmetic touches that take place in medical clinics have receded. The price of some post-botox or filler creams have risen from LBP6,000 ($4) to LBP60,000 due to the collapse of the national currency. Some creams that used to cost LBP300,000, are now priced at more than LBP1 million.”

Some women who had not been affected by the financial situation were following their doctors abroad for cosmetic procedures, according to Sobra.

The price of a nose job in Lebanon ranges from $2,000 to $3,000, while liposuction ranges from $2,500 to $4,000 and the cost of a tummy tuck ranges between $3,000 and $8,000.

Abdel Hak said that, nowadays, his customers first asked him what the dollar rate was. “My answer is always that I am not a money changer. If you want to buy dollars, there is one on the ground floor.”

Lebanon’s currency reached a new low against the dollar on the black market, hitting LBP15,000.

Its fall has led to soaring prices. A nose job now costs LBP25 million, a sum that many people cannot secure unless they are paid in dollars.

Women often used to resort to bank loans for plastic surgery when the dollar exchange rate was only LBP1,505, with some banks even making attractive offers in recent years for such loans.

Alice Abdul Karim Samaha, a drug distributor for import companies, said the demand for cosmetic medical supplies had been relatively low due to high prices and the migration of doctors.

“The price of a needle of filler is $250. Some cosmetic doctors reduced their prices, deciding to sell a filler needle for LBP2 million, instead of LBP3 million, and LBP125,000 according to the black market price. The doctors decided to reduce their profits so that they don’t lose customers.”

Samaha said it was “very expensive” now for a woman to appear attractive and beautiful. “This is no longer limited to the cost of plastic surgery, but also the prices of hair dyes and nail polish have become extortionate.”

But Abdel Hak believed that women would never stop searching for ways to improve their beauty.

“Women during the lockdown were depressed. The more they look in the mirror, the gloomier they are. Resorting to aesthetic corrections helps lift their spirits. The cheapest and the most sought-after option now is botox injections. Our profession has been affected by the economic crisis. When a person has a headache, he goes to the doctor, but botox is not a medical necessity and in this sense our work has declined but not stopped. Our career will go through a period of stagnation in the medium term, but will recover later because women are demanding and the face mask does not prevent them from beautifying themselves.”

He said that plastic surgeons and doctors were currently “living on their laurels” with their savings held in banks. They were waiting for developments to make a decision - and leaving Lebanon may be one of these decisions.

But he stressed that Beirut would remain the best medical hub in the region because of its scientific history, diverse culture and high levels of experience.

The sector used to attract clients from across Europe and nowhere could replace Lebanon, he said.

“In light of the crisis, Arab women are still coming to us. Money provides advanced technologies but does not provide expertise. Turkey tried and did not continue.”

Lebanese style icon Karen Wazen fronts Ralph Lauren campaign with her children

Lebanese style icon Karen Wazen fronts Ralph Lauren campaign with her children
Lebanese influencer and designer Karen Wazen stars in new Polo Ralph Lauren campaign with her children. Instagram
Updated 20 April 2021

Lebanese style icon Karen Wazen fronts Ralph Lauren campaign with her children

Lebanese style icon Karen Wazen fronts Ralph Lauren campaign with her children

DUBAI: Lebanese influencer and designer Karen Wazen was recently tapped to front a new campaign for Polo Ralph Lauren, and she is sharing the spotlight with her family. Wazen features in the campaign images with her three children, twin girls Karlie and Kay, and her son George.

“Ah so happy to share with you our Family Campaign for @PoloRalphLauren!!” exclaimed the Dubai-based fashion blogger on Instagram, alongside the campaign images. “There are no words to explain the love and emotions I have for my family... they’re my biggest blessing and pride,” she added, thanking Polo Ralph Lauren for “capturing these beautiful moments together.”

It’s not the first time that the American brand has shone a spotlight on an Arab family for a major campaign.

Back in December, the label released a campaign titled “Family is Who You Love,” featuring a diverse cast of siblings, parents and children, among them Saudi sisters Sakhaa and Thana Abdul as well as British-Moroccan model Nora Attal and her family.

Actress Jameela Jamil defends US singer Demi Lovato in body positivity row

Actress Jameela Jamil defends US singer Demi Lovato in body positivity row
Jameela Jamil is well known for her body positivity organization ‘I Weigh.’ File/ AFP
Updated 20 April 2021

Actress Jameela Jamil defends US singer Demi Lovato in body positivity row

Actress Jameela Jamil defends US singer Demi Lovato in body positivity row

DUBAI: British actress Jameela Jamil took to her social media account to defend US singer and actress Demi Lovato due to a body positivity controversy this week. 

Lovato, who is best known for her role in Disney’s musical “Camp Rock,” recently called out a popular Los Angeles-based frozen yogurt shop The Bigg Chill, stating that the store’s diet options could lead some people to feel uncomfortable.  

"Finding it extremely hard to order froyo from @thebiggchillofficial when you have to walk past tons of sugar free cookies (and) other diet foods before you get to the counter,” said the “Cool for the Summer” singer, who has been vocal about her struggles with eating disorders in her documentary “Dancing With The Devil.” The 28-year-old urged the business to “do better” along with the hashtag #dietculturevulture.  

Jamil was quick to come to Lovato’s support, after the singer’s comments garnered some backlash online. Taking to her Instagram Stories, the “The Good Place” star wrote, “Ok, I want to try to avoid making the story bigger than it already is. But if an eating disorder advocate says she sees products that are positioned as guilt free, and it is potentially triggering, that doesn’t mean she’s too stupid to remember that diabetics exist. It just means that we need to change the marketing of products that are for people’s medical needs.”

She added: “That’s all @ddlovato was asking for. It doesn’t make her a monster. It doesn’t mean she disregards people’s illnesses. She’s just one of few celebrities reminding us to look out for mental illness. Guilt free is diet culture terminology.”

The British-Pakistani-Indian actress is a major advocate for body positivity.

The 34-year-old, who became a household name with her activism and role as Tahani Al-Jamil on NBC’s “The Good Place,” routinely takes to her platform to encourage people to respect their bodies and often gets candid about her struggles with eating disorders and body dysmorphia that she grappled with in her teenage years.

Jamil is also well known for her body positivity organization “I Weigh,” that focuses on self-worth and body positivity beyond weight, encouraging people to weigh themselves by their positive attributes, as opposed to numbers on a scale.

Moroccan-Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi stars in new Hugo Eyewear campaign

The model posed for the new Hugo Eyewear Spring 2021 campaign. Instagram
The model posed for the new Hugo Eyewear Spring 2021 campaign. Instagram
Updated 19 April 2021

Moroccan-Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi stars in new Hugo Eyewear campaign

The model posed for the new Hugo Eyewear Spring 2021 campaign. Instagram

DUBAI: There’s no slowing down Malika El-Maslouhi. This week, the Moroccan-Italian model was selected to star in the new Hugo Eyewear Spring 2021 campaign, which was shot by fashion photographer Matteo Montanari.

Featuring alongside model Parker Van Noord, the catwalker appears in a video and campaign photographs wearing key pieces from the German label’s most recent eyewear collection. For the campaign, the 22-year-old posed on a rooftop wearing the brand’s newest range of optical frames and sunglasses, paired with a mustard yellow double-breasted suit and a black, logo emblazoned Hugo Boss top.


A post shared by HUGO (@hugo_official)

The campaigns keep on rolling in for the rising star, who was born in Milan to an Italian mother and a Moroccan father.

In addition to her latest work with Hugo Eyewear, El-Maslouhi also recently appeared in campaigns for Zadig & Voltaire, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein Swim, Jacquemus and Mango alongside fellow Moroccan model Nora Attal.

Memorably, she was the star of designer Peter Dundas’ most recent collection. The Norwegian designer selected the breakout model to  showcase the brand’s glamorous new offering for Fall 2021, which was digitally presented in a look book format.


A post shared by MALIKA (@malika.elmaslouhi)

And when she’s not modeling different collections for brands, she’s helping design them.

She recently teamed up with London-based retailer Ishkar on a range of necklaces delicately handcrafted by jewelers in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

According to the online store, founded by former UAE residents Edmund Le Brun and Flore de Taisne in 2016, the Malika x Ishkar collection is set to drop soon.


A post shared by I S H K A R (

El-Maslouhi, who is signed to VIVA Model Management, made her modelling debut when she was 18 years old at the Alberta Ferretti Fall 2019 show and went on to walk for the Dior Cruise 2020 show held in Marrakech a month later.

She would go on to quit her university studies to pursue modeling full-time, gracing the runways of storied fashion houses such as Hermes and Chanel.

The model, who splits her time between Italy, France and the Netherlands, also has a few editorials under her belt, including Vogue Russia, British Vogue, Dazed Magazine and Elle France, for which she recently served as the cover star.

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan donates one million meals to new UAE campaign

The beauty mogul urged her followers on social media to donate to the campaign. File/Getty Images
The beauty mogul urged her followers on social media to donate to the campaign. File/Getty Images
Updated 19 April 2021

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan donates one million meals to new UAE campaign

The beauty mogul urged her followers on social media to donate to the campaign. File/Getty Images

DUBAI: Dubai-based beauty mogul Huda Kattan took to Instagram on Saturday to reveal she has taken part in a food drive campaign launched by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

The 100 Million Meals mission was launched to provide food parcels to disadvantaged communities across 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa in an effort to combat hunger and malnutrition, exacerbated by COVID-19. 

Kattan announced that she has donated one million meals to those less fortunate via her cosmetics company Huda Beauty.

“It’s hard to believe that in today’s world, in 2021, we’re still dealing with issues of malnutrition and that every ten seconds a child dies because of hunger. This initiative is so incredible and it’s just a reminder of how each and every single one of us has the power to make a change,” said Kattan in a video posted to her Instagram account.


A post shared by Huda Kattan (@huda)

“I’m so proud to live in a country that prioritizes world hunger,” she said, urging her 2.2 million followers to donate to the charitable initiative.

The 100 Million Meals campaign is an expansion of the 10 Million Meals campaign, which was launched in 2020 to help those worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within a week of its launch, the initiative has raised over $21,200,000 equivalent to providing more than 78 million meals, as massive donations continue to pour in from individuals and companies inside and outside the UAE.

Kattan is an avid humanitarian and often steps up to help those who need it most.

In June, her cosmetics brand, Huda Beauty, donated $500,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a civil and human rights organization that provides legal assistance to low-income African Americans, during the height of the Black Lives Matters protests that swept through the US last year. 

Before that, the US-Iraqi beauty mogul pledged to donate $100,000 — to be split between 100 different freelance makeup artists providing them with $1000 each — in a bid to help people in the industry stay afloat financially during the pandemic.