A day at the races: Stylish guests wow at the Saudi Cup

Entrepreneur and influencer Pierette Yammine showed off a regal, ice blue number by Dubai-based label Baruni Fashion. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)
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Updated 02 March 2020

A day at the races: Stylish guests wow at the Saudi Cup

RIYADH: All eyes were on Saudi Arabia as the world’s most valuable horse race kicked off over the weekend — and there was something for everyone, including fashion fans.

Style-lovers descended on the Saudi Cup in Riyadh wearing their race day best, with women giving Audrey Hepburn’s character in Hollywood classic “My Fair Lady” a run for her money with their chic abayas and colorful dresses.

Stylish racing gear was on full display in the form of an array of creative headpieces flaunted by some women in the Red Sea Pavilion.

Arab News caught up with Evelyn McDermott, founder of the Evelyn McDermott Millinery, which was the exclusive milliner for the Saudi Cup and had a dedicated booth for those who wanted to pick up a last-minute headpiece.




Milliner Evelyn McDermott (right) boasted a dark green jumpsuit with a signature headpiece. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)

“My brand is a Dubai-born brand and I’ve been making the hats for about seven to eight years now, she said, before adding, “it’s been the most phenomenal thing ever to be invited here to Saudi Arabia (and) to be the exclusive milliner to the Saudi Cup has just been so wonderful. I mean the first ever Saudi Cup makes it an experience that can never be repeated so it’s been fantastic.”

For her part, McDermott capitalized on one of the style trends of the day — wearing green.

The designer donned a jade green jumpsuit with dramatic tulip sleeves in translucent chiffon and finished off her out-there outfit with a matching head wrap — a fresh take on typical race day headpieces and the feathered looks preferred by many other women at the event.




For her part, McDermott capitalized on one of the style trends of the day — wearing green. (Arab News)

Green seemed to be a popular color, with many style conscious race goers donning various shades of the hue.

Michele Fischer, who flew into the Kingdom from the US, showed off an embroidered blue abaya, complete with tribal designs in white threadwork. Underneath, she boasted a fern green cocktail dress by Ralph Lauren and topped off the look with an ash-and-ebony feathered headpiece by Australian milliner Sonlia Fashion.




Michele Fischer showed off a fern green number. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)

Fischer told Arab News she handpicked the dark green dress in order to pay tribute to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, entrepreneur and influencer Pierette Yammine showed off a regal, ice blue number by Dubai-based label Baruni Fashion, which is helmed by former petroleum engineer-turned-designer Fadwa Baruni.




Entrepreneur Pierette Yammine showed off a regal, ice blue number by Dubai-based label Baruni Fashion. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)

Yammine accessorized the floor-grazing gown, with it’s textured cuffed sleeves and sash at the waist, with a demure white Longines watch and an attention-grabbing caramel-colored floral headpiece with wispy filaments that played in the breeze.

Attendee Liz Price followed suit and opted for a gorgeous, crinkled headpiece that resembled piled up gardenias atop her sleek hairdo. The cream-colored piece was designed by London-based milliner Rachel Trevor Morgan, whose hats are favored by Queen Elizabeth II.




Liz Price's The cream-colored piece was designed by London-based milliner Rachel Trevor Morgan. (Arab News)

 


South Asian marriage websites under fire for color bias

Updated 12 July 2020

South Asian marriage websites under fire for color bias

DHAHRAN: An online backlash has forced the matrimonial website Shaadi.com to take down an ‘skin color’ filter which asked users to specify their skin color using descriptors such as fair, wheatish or dark. The filter on the popular site, which caters to the South Asian diaspora, was one of the parameters for matching prospective partners.

Meghan Nagpal, a Toronto-based graduate student, logged on to the website and was appalled to see the skin-color filter. “Why should I support such archaic view [in 2020]?” she told Arab News.

Nagpal cited further examples of implicit biases against skin color in the diaspora communities – women who are dark-skinned are never acknowledged as “beautiful” or how light-skinned South Asian women who are mistaken as Caucasian consider it a compliment.

“Such biases stem from a history of colonization and the mentality that ‘white is superior’,” she said.

When Nagpal emailed the website’s customer service team, she received the response that “this is what most parents require.” She shared her experience on a Facebook group, attracting the attention of Florida-based Roshni Patel and Dallas-based Hetal Lakhani. The former took to online activism by tweeting the company and the latter started an online petition.

Overnight, the petition garnered more 1,500 signatures and the site eventually removed the filter.

“Now is the time to re-evaluate what we consider beautiful. Colorism has significant consequences in our community, especially for women. People with darker skin experience greater prejudice, violence, bullying and social sanctions,” the petition reads. “The idea that fairer skin is ‘good’ and darker skin is ‘bad’ is completely irrational. Not only is it untrue, but it is an entirely socially constructed perception based in neo-colonialism and casteism, which has no place in the 21st century.”

Overnight, the petition garnered more 1,500 signatures and the site eventually removed the filter.

“When a user highlighted this, we were thankful and had the remnants removed immediately. We do not discriminate based on skin color and our member base is as diverse and pluralistic as the world,” a spokesperson said.

“If one company starts a movement like this, it can change minds and perceptions. This is a step in the right direction,” said Nagpal. Soon after, Shaadi.com’s competitor Jeevansathi.com also took down the skin filter from its website.

Colorism and bias in matrimony is only one issue; prejudices are deeply ingrained and widespread across society. Dr. Sarah Rasmi, a Dubai-based psychologist, highlights research and observations on how light skin is an advantage in society.

The website took down the skin filter following backlash.

“Dark skin tends to have lower socio-economic status and, in the US justice system, has been found to get harsher and more punitive sentences.

“These biases for fair as opposed to dark skin comes from colonial prejudices and the idea that historically, light skin has been associated with privilege, power and superiority,” she said.

However, in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter protests, change is underway.

Last month, Johnson & Johnson announced that it will be discontinuing its skin whitening creams in Asian and Middle Eastern markets, and earlier this month Hindustan Unilever Limited (Unilever’s Indian subsidiary) announced that it will remove the words ‘fair, white and light’ from its products and marketing. To promote an inclusive standard of beauty, it has also renamed its flagship Fair & Lovely product line to Glow & Lovely.

“Brands have to move away from these standards of beauty and be more inclusive so that people – regardless of their color, size, shape or gender – can find a role model that looks like them in the mass media,” said Dr. Rasmi.