BIBISARA brings magic of the steppes to sands of Arabia

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A previous design by BIBISARA. (Photo courtesy: kfw.kz)
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A previous design by BIBISARA. (Photo courtesy: kfw.kz)
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Tamara Al-Gabbani
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Arwa Al-Ammari
Updated 11 April 2018

BIBISARA brings magic of the steppes to sands of Arabia

LONDON: When BIBISARA founder Asem Altynbekova was preparing for her show at Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh, she spent some time considering what her home country of Kazakhstan and the host country have in common. First, she reflected, they are Muslim countries, and secondly they have magnificent, inspirational landscapes — the boundless steppes of Kazakhstan and the immense deserts of Saudi Arabia. 
As a designer who takes great pride in her culture and heritage, she was keen to bring a sense of this to Riyadh. She succeeded. Her wonderful collection is steeped in tradition. 
BIBISARA is named after her maternal grandmother, and Altynbekova recalls a childhood steeped in music, dancing and creativity. Her mother, she said, could turn her hand to sewing anything, including the latest fashions, and her rich collection of fabrics were always strewn around the room. 
“The sounds of the sewing machine were the sweetest notes of my childhood,” she told Arab News. 
Even so, her career path wasn’t straightforward. Altynbekova started out studying international relations before shifting to interior design. She followed that up with a spell working for the family construction business. It wasn’t until she was 27 that she finally followed her heart and launched BIBISARA. 
“There is something inside me that helps me go boldly forward without the fear of doing something wrong,” she said. 
Her exclusive AFW collection, she said, “tells us about the Muslim woman’s multifaceted nature. It highlights the ability of women to create and protect the family hearth. The ancient ornaments on the outfits, reflecting the sense of abundance and family well-being, represent this aspect. The black pearls and beads are like stars, twinkling in the sky over the desert. The long, light, chiffon plume, waving in the breeze, creates a mirage, an oasis of femininity and elegance. 
“The BIBISARA brand, like a fresh stream from the steppes of the Eurasian continent, has organically evolved into the aura of mysterious Saudi Arabia,” she continued. “Only the nomad will understand the Bedouin. Only the steppe is comparable to the desert .We feel the unity of our states in our understanding of the spirit of freedom and the winds of change, and our new BIBISARA brand collection reflects it.”
Altynbekova, who has previously participated in Kazakhstan Fashion Week, sees her participation in Arab Fashion Week as a great opportunity to move into the international market while staying true to her cultural heritage. 
“It’s a huge honor for me,” she said. I am happy that I am one of the witnesses and a participant,” she said.
Today, since we are a young brand, our main sales market is our native country Kazakhstan, and we only recently started to come out on the market, but as you see we do not stand still.”

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Gigi Hadid visits Senegalese women’s shelter

Gigi Hadid visited a supported shelter for women and girls who have been victims of abuse in Senegal
Updated 20 min 29 sec ago

Gigi Hadid visits Senegalese women’s shelter

  • Her father came to the US as a refugee before he became a billionaire real estate developer
  • The 24-year-old documented her work with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Dakar on social media

DUBAI: American-Palestinian supermodel Gigi Hadid visited a supported shelter for women and girls who have been victims of abuse in Senegal on Monday.  

The 24-year-old documented her work with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Dakar on social media.

“After being raped and/or impregnated from a sexual attack, it is common that these girls are shunned from their families and kicked out of their homes. Some women travel from very rural parts of the country, some even coming from other countries (one girl we met today is from Libya),” she wrote on Instagram.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Today we visited a @UNICEF supported shelter, for women and girl victims of abuse, in Dakar. After being raped and/or impregnated from a sexual attack, it is common that these girls are shunned from their families and kicked out of their homes. Some women travel from very rural parts of the country, some even coming from other countries (one girl we met today is from Libya). After traveling sometimes to many cities trying to find their ground, most girls learn about this home through word-of-mouth; no one will be turned down and they will be supported physically, emotionally, and psychologically here. Employees and volunteers of the shelter, lead by the founder Mona Chasserio and her colleague Danielle Hueges, shown in the photos, encourage the girls to share and find community through their hardship. They are taught to find the positive in their motherhood and relationship with their child, to love and care for them properly, and to nurture their passions, whether it be garment making, agriculture, sports, etc. and learn a skill set that will help them be able to enter the workplace upon their departure from the shelter. Not only have about 250 children been born in this shelter in the last 10 years (15 births have taken place between October and November of this year, and the youngest mother being only ten years old), but there are also orphans who are brought to this shelter by Senegal’s Ministry of Justice. Mothers and their children will stay at the shelter until it is agreed upon by themselves and the leaders that they have the confidence, strength, and skills they need to re-enter their communities, and orphans will stay til about 8 years old, when they are permitted by the government to enter a nursing home to be adopted. Their greatest tool is one called “Rapid Protection,” which is a 24/7 SMS system put in place by UNICEF that enables community members trained in child protection and this specific system (1,222 at this time to cover the 1.5 million people in this region) to be informants of abuse (physical, sexual, neglect, etc.) in their area. As soon as these cases have been reported through SMS, with the age and sex of the victim... (cont ↓)

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) on

She shared a video and several images of girls and women at the camp, detailing the conditions they live in and UNICEF’s work in the area. “Employees and volunteers of the shelter … encourage the girls to share and find community through their hardship,” she wrote.

UNICEF has set up a tool called “Rapid Protection,” which is a messaging system that enables community members trained in child protection to be informants of abuse in their area, Hadid said.

The cause of the refugees is one that is close to Hadid’s heart. Her father, Mohamed Hadid, came to the US as a refugee before he became a billionaire real estate developer. Last year, she visited the Jamtoli refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where she met with Rohingya refugee children.