Inspired by Bianca Jagger, SemSem is celebrating powerful women

Abeer Al-Otaiba resonated with Bianca Jagger’s advocacy for the social and human rights of disadvantaged women and girls. (Supplied)
Updated 11 July 2019

Inspired by Bianca Jagger, SemSem is celebrating powerful women

DUBAI: Inspired by the iconic British actress and human rights activist Bianca Jagger, Egyptian designer Abeer Al-Otaiba’s fashion label SemSem has released its Resort 2020 collection which also draws inspiration from the 1970s disco scene.

Apart from looking to her most iconic style moments, Al-Otaiba also resonated with Jagger’s advocacy for the social and human rights of disadvantaged women and girls.

In a released statement, Washington-based Al-Otaiba said, “Every season, I look at ways to integrate our signature geometric detailing with graceful wearable silhouettes. This season, I wanted to make a powerful statement about the core of our brand identity and show a new direction for the future of SemSem.”

In the Resort 2020 collection, fabrics are hand-painted and lamé is tie-dyed in rich, saturated tones of blue and pink to create patterns that are SemSem’s own.


The label’s ensembles have been worn by Hollywood’s who’s who, including Blake Lively, Taylor Swift and Kourtney Kardashian and this collection promises to be a fan favorite too, with beautifully embellished bustiers alongside signature tailored pants and dramatic skirts in elegant neutrals, silvers, blacks and whites.

Pleated, bias-cut gowns and soft Egyptian cotton separates are also featured — they are perfect for day-to-night dressing.

Fluid crepe silks are mixed with custom-dyed ostrich feathers, jacquard lame pieces and cashmere to add an element of texture to the collection.


Having shown at Paris Fashion Week in 2018 and regularly written up in Vogue magazine, SemSem has brought a sense of jet-set chic to the ready-to-wear market.

But the line’s ethos isn’t only about red-carpet glamour; encouraging mothers to instill a sense of global awareness and dedication to philanthropy in their daughters lies at the heart of SemSem’s mission, according to the brand.

A philanthropist with a degree in civil engineering and stints spent living across the Middle East, Europe and the US, Al-Otaiba created SemSem in 2014 as a way to celebrate women and children across the globe. Bestowing the label with her daughter’s nickname, Al-Otaiba’s label has matured in a few years.

 “In addition to engineering, my Arab roots have always inspired our design aesthetic,” Al-Otaiba told Arab News in an earlier interview. “SemSem is a brand deeply rooted in my heritage and represents the Eastern and Western cultures where I grew up. Our designs have a global vision, born from my experiences living in different parts of the world and a strong love of my Arab culture. Informed by the cultural aesthetic of the Middle East and the Mediterranean, gentle architectural layers and glamour punctuated by delicate restraint are hallmarks of my designs.”

‘The Sky is Pink’: Priyanka Chopra disappoints, Zaira Wasim shines

Farhan Akhtar and Priyanka Chopra Jonas star in the film. (AFP)
Updated 13 October 2019

‘The Sky is Pink’: Priyanka Chopra disappoints, Zaira Wasim shines

CHENNAI: Director Shonali Bose may well be termed the “mistress of misery.” Her characters, invariably women, have been suffering souls.

Whether it be in “Amu,” set in the aftermath of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, or “Margarita with a Straw” and its story of a teenager with cerebral palsy, Bose’s protagonists have been largely unhappy.

Her latest feature, “The Sky is Pink” — unnecessarily long at 159 minutes — is based on the real-life tale of a girl who dies at an early age from complications arising out of an immune-deficiency illness. Aisha (Zaira Wasim) tells us not only her own sad story, but also that of her parents, Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Niren (Farhan Akhtar).

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar attended "The Sky Is Pink" premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. (AFP)

When Aditi falls pregnant, she has already lost a child to the disease, but religious compulsion pushes her to go ahead. Predictably, the baby girl, Aisha, develops the same problem. The parents, who live in New Delhi, rush her to London. Since they cannot afford the treatment, which involves a bone-marrow transplant, Niren broadcasts a plea from a radio station that raises a large amount of money.

But years later, the bubbly Aisha falls seriously ill, and the effect of her decline on her brother, Ishan (Rohit Saraf), and her parents makes up rest of the plot.

“The Sky is Pink” essentially explores the way marriages fall apart after a child gets sick. But Bose weaves into this storyline several distracting features, including Ishan’s budding love affair, which is rocked every time there is crisis in Aisha's life.

Bose’s film could be compared to Mehdi M. Barsaoui’s debut, “A Son.” Set in Tunisia in 2011 after the “Jasmine Revolution,” it also deals with a couple’s turmoil after their son is shot and wounded by a sniper. Barsaoui intelligently scripts how the couple crack under the pressure and their relationship begins to totter. There is not a single scene that is at odds with the plot.

In contrast, “The Sky is Pink” digresses into marital jealousy and a string of dramatically charged moments, diluting the core theme.

Akhtar, who is an excellent actor, seems out of sorts in this setting, while Chopra Jonas fails to convey a mother’s emotional pain and seems far too dolled up to adequately portray a character in torment. In fact, the only high point is the fine acting by Wasim.