Malika El-Maslouhi: The breakout star to watch this Fashion Month

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Updated 09 February 2020

Malika El-Maslouhi: The breakout star to watch this Fashion Month

DUBAI: Fall 2020 Fashion Month kicked off in New York this week and it appears that part-Arab model Malika El-Maslouhi’s is off to a great start.

The rising star, who was born in Milan to an Italian mother and a Moroccan father, is proving to be a force to be reckoned with since taking the Spring 2020 runways by storm last season — she walked for prestigious fashion houses, including Chanel, Dior, Hermes and Moschino to name a few. Now, she’s back to dominate the Fall 2020 ready-to-wear shows, which are currently underway in the Big Apple.

The 20-year-old’s season kicked off with Rag & Bone, where she joined the likes of Candace Swanepoel, Grace Bol, Isabelli Fontana and fellow Moroccan model Nora Attal on the runway.  Next, she graced the Brandon Maxwell catwalk, wearing a white halterneck top tucked into a reflective skirt and paired with brown knee-length boots and a matching side-strap bag.

She wasn’t the only model of Arab descent to strut down the American womenswear label’s runway at Manhattan’s American Museum of Natural History on Saturday. The Milan-based beauty walked alongside part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid, as well as Attal.

El-Maslouhi made her modelling debut when she was 18-years-old and has captivated the fashion industry since. In addition to gracing the runways of storied fashion houses that most models can only dream of, the rising fashion star has also appeared in international campaigns for the likes of Jacquemus and Off-White. Meanwhile, she was recently selected as the face of Vogue Arabia’s December 2019 cover, alongside four other models of Arab descent.

Indeed, as the fashion industry continues its bid to become more inclusive, Arab women are beginning to make a name for themselves while simultaneously shattering pre-conceived notions and stereotypes.

El-Maslouhi — alongside other breakout stars, which include part-Algerian Hayett McCarthy, Moroccan-Italian Rawiyaa Madkouri and Egyptian Leila Karim Greiss — represent a new generation of Middle Eastern and North African women who are breaking barriers.

The up-and-comers join more established names such as part-Moroccans Imaan Hammam and Attal as well as US-Dutch-Palestinian sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid.


Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

“Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story, but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. (Supplied)
Updated 24 February 2020

Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

CHENNAI: Sooni Taraporevala gained immense fame by writing for Mira Nair’s films, such as “The Namesake,” “Mississippi Masala” and the Oscar-nominated “Salaam Bombay.” In 2009, Taraporevala stepped behind the camera to helm a small movie called “Little Zizou” about the Parsi community. It was a hit, and three years ago, she took up the camera again to create a virtual reality short documentary about two boys from Mumbai’s slums who became renowned ballet dancers. 

Taraporevala converted her documentary into a full-length feature, “Yeh Ballet,” for Netflix, and the work, though with a somewhat documentary feel, is fascinating storytelling — a talent we have seen in her writings for Nair. 

Happily, “Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story (of the kind “Gully Boy” was), but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. The film begins with a breathtaking aerial shot of the Arabian Ocean on whose shores Mumbai stands — an element that points toward the director’s background as a photographer. 

The film chronicles the lives of Nishu and Asif Beg. (Supplied) 

A story inspired by true events, “Yeh Ballet” chronicles the lives of Nishu (Manish Chauhan) and Asif Beg (newcomer Achintya Bose). The two lads are spotted by a ballet master, Saul Aaron (British actor Julian Sands) who, driven away from America because of his religion, lands in a Mumbai dance school.

Nishu and Asif, despite their nimble-footed ballet steps, find their paths paved with the hardest of obstacles. When foreign scholarships from famous ballet academies come calling, they cannot get a visa because they have no bank accounts. And while Asif’s father, dictated by his religion, is dead against the boy’s music and dancing, Nishu’s dad, a taxi driver, feels that his son’s passion is a waste of time and energy.

Well, all this ends well — as we could have guessed — but solid writing and imaginative editing along with Ankur Tewari’s curated music and the original score by Salvage Audio Collective turn “Yeh Ballet” into a gripping tale. It is not an easy task to transform a documentary into fiction, but Taraporevala does it with great ease. Or so it appears. Of course, the two protagonists add more than a silver lining to a movie that will be long remembered — the way we still mull over “Salaam Bombay” or “The Namesake.” But what I missed was a bit more ballet; the two guys are just wonderful to watch as they fly through the air.