Meet the Saudi style maven bringing luxury vintage fashion to the Kingdom

Rae Joseph is a Saudi lawyer and fashion aficionado. Supplied
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Updated 07 January 2020

Meet the Saudi style maven bringing luxury vintage fashion to the Kingdom

  • The fashion guru established her own fashion house called 1954 by Rae Joseph in 2017
  • The online shopping platform offers pieces by a select range of design houses

LONDON: Based between Riyadh and New York, Rae Joseph is a Saudi lawyer and style guru who is doing her bit to promote vintage fashion in the region. 

It all started on a summer’s day in New York in 2003, when Rae found herself in a café while taking a break from a shopping trip. Rae, along with her sisters, sat next to a sharply dressed older gentleman who eventually introduced himself as the owner of a of a private showroom specialising in vintage fashion. 

Rae’s interest was sparked when she entered the showroom to find treasures by the likes of Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Chanel. 

Almost 15 years of her first encounter with vintage fashion, Rae decided to establish her own fashion house called 1954 by Rae Joseph, which lists items for sale in Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf, in 2017. 

“From an artistic point of view, owning a vintage piece is like owning a piece of history, a piece of art. The pieces carry stories and I find that fascinating,” Joseph told Arab News. 




The style maven established her own fashion house in 2017. Supplied

“Vintage pieces were made in a time where quality and craftsmanship were key, so the materials used and methods of manufacturing were of a quality that no longer exists in today’s mass market. From an environmental point of view, wearing vintage is one of the most sustainable options,” she added.

The online shopping platform offers pieces by a select range of design houses, including Celine, Prada, Cartier and Fendi, among others. 

Handbags, chic scarves and jewelry items are listed alongside their price in dollars and Saudi riyals, as well as a short description of the piece. A gallery of detailed photos show the condition of the item, including close up shots of the stitching and links in some cases. 




The online shopping platform offers pieces by a select range of design houses, including Celine, Prada, Cartier and Fendi, among others. Supplied

“The pieces are carefully curated from top vintage showrooms around the world, primarily in New York and Europe, many of which cater to Hollywood red carpets and leading fashion magazines,” the entrepreneur said.

But how has the idea been received by potential clients in the Gulf? 

 “There are people who have always loved and shopped vintage in Europe and the US. Usually those people are extremely excited to see there is a local brand that curates high quality vintage (items) in the region. The other category are people who may have heard of vintage, but don’t necessarily understand what it really means,” she said.

According to the fashion guru, vintage pieces are ideal for a woman “who is unique, has a strong sense of personal style and someone who appreciates art and is open to mixing different styles and trends to create her own independent look.”


Lebanese luxury soap brand sees boost in sales amid pandemic

Updated 27 May 2020

Lebanese luxury soap brand sees boost in sales amid pandemic

DUBAI: In 1999, Syrian-Palestinian fragrance connoisseur Hana Debs Akkari pursued her passion project in Lebanon by founding a sophisticated soap company called “Senteurs d’Orient,” or “Fragrances of the East” in French.

Akkari envisioned that her handcrafted soaps would symbolize the beloved floral essences of the Middle East, particularly the Levant, which is reportedly the world’s oldest soap-making region.

With the pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Akkari’s small, family-run luxury soap business has witnessed an increased demand in their natural products nearly twenty years since its founding.

Portrait of Sarah Akkari, CEO of Senteurs d’Orient. (Supplied)

“Since the pandemic was declared, we saw a spike in our online sales,” said Lebanese-Canadian and New Yorked-based Sarah Akkari, Hana’s daughter and CEO of Senteurs d’Orient, to Arab News. “People are washing their hands more often, and their hands are becoming drier as a consequence. So, they’re also looking for a natural soap, such as the ones we offer. Our antibacterial soaps are packed with different nourishing ingredients like glycerin, Shea butter and Vitamin E.”

Operating from Lebanon, Senteurs d’Orient’s factory is run by a diligent team of chemists and artisans, many of whom are women as female education and empowerment in the workforce is at the heart of the company’s ethos.

Engraving soaps at the Lebanon factory. (Supplied)

After mixing the chemical-free ingredients by hand, the soaps are air-dried for 10 ten days and later machine-molded and carefully hand-wrapped. True to the company’s name, the delicate floral scents of gardenia, jasmine, tuberose, and rose of Damascus draw their inspiration from eastern gardens.

To show support for the selfless medical workers, some of whom reached out to Akkari and expressed interest in Senteurs d’Orient’s soaps, she recently donated nearly 500 packages to doctors and nurses from four American hospitals — two in Los Angeles, one in New York and another in New Jersey.

Each package is an ‘Oriental Trio Box’, containing three bars of soap, the shapes and engravings of which are inspired by the decoration of ‘maamoul’, the Levant region’s quintessential pastry.

“When you’re facing this type of crisis and you’re receiving emails from doctors and nurses or anyone on the frontlines, it’s a not a request you can reject,” explained the 32-year-old entrepreneur. “It’s something that we really wanted to be part of and it brought us much satisfaction knowing we could contribute in this way.”

The company has expanded its international presence and line of therapeutic products, creating bath salts, multi-purpose oils and thinly sliced, single-use soap leaves. (Supplied)

Under the leadership of Akkari, the company has expanded its international presence and line of therapeutic products, creating Mediterranean orange blossom bath salts, multi-purpose oils and thinly sliced, single-use soap leaves of amber and tea flower.

It is the authenticity of Senteurs d’Orient’s products that Akkari hopes will come through.

“You feel the fragrance is coming straight from the flower,” she said.