Home help: Regional brands seek popularity boost

Home help: Regional brands seek popularity boost
Karen Wazen launched her eyewear brand in 2018. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 May 2020

Home help: Regional brands seek popularity boost

Home help: Regional brands seek popularity boost
  • Homegrown fashion has been gaining ground, and could benefit from sustainability and ‘buy local’ trends post-COVID

DUBAI: Traditional dressing may have been contemporized but it has never been forgotten in the Middle East. One of the region’s most celebrated designers, Rami Al-Ali (whose client list includes British screen star Helen Mirren, Oscar-winning costume designer Hannah Beachler and Egyptian actress and singer Yousra) says that there is a growing “back-to-the-roots” movement that started a few years ago. 




Rami Al-Ali is one of the region’s most celebrated designers. (Supplied)

“A lot of the younger generation — representing our new clientele — are much more patriotic and seeking to keep their identity intact. They are very much pushing for local products, cause they speak their language. They have a global way of thinking, but they want to keep the aesthetic traditional,” he explains.

Well-known fashion influencer and entrepreneur Karen Wazen agrees. It was one of the reasons that she launched Karen Wazen Eyewear in 2018. As an influencer she has always enjoyed mixing regional labels with international brands. 

“Noor Hammour, Madiyah Al-Sharqi and shoemaker Andre Wazen are a few of my favorites; they have a distinct style language. My brand was born out of a passion of sunglasses and towards my community,” says Wazen, whose sunglasses are available through luxury fashion retail platform Farfetch.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

VICKY’s now available online

A post shared by Karen Wazen Eyewear (@bykarenwazen) on

Not all regional fashion brands are so lucky with distribution. Even now, when you walk into regional branches of international department stores such as Bloomingdales, regional representation is lacking. 

“Regional brands understand the aesthetics, culture, and heritage of the region, so their products are a perfect fit, but it was quite a challenge to convince buyers to take a risk and invest,” says Al-Ali. 

Often, it is independent concept stores that give local designers a home.  Urbanist is a store in Dubai’s Box Park, launched five years ago by Sandra Hakim. Originally, the merchandise was roughly split 80/20 between international and local designers, she says. But today, it is closer to 50/50. “Demand for local talent has continued to increase every year,” notes Hakim. 

It is a similar story at L’Edit, another popular concept store in Dubai, founder Rumana Nazim tells Arab News. 

“We started off with brands mainly from London, New York and Australia but very quickly started stocking local brands,” she says. “There’s a great support system in this region, where women from here are proud to wear homegrown labels, so we are definitely seeing more local brands being pushed out and spoken about.” 

During Ramadan, there is greater demand than ever for local labels. Comfortable, modest dressing with a sense of glamor is what many women in the Middle East are looking for in the holy month, so kaftans are, naturally, extremely popular.




This design is by Rami Al-Ali. (Supplied)

Dubai-based influencer and luxury consultant Rosemin Madhavji notes, “During Ramadan I’m always in modest maxi dresses or kaftans. Local designers are at an accessible price point, and — most of the time — produced locally, which allows you to customize length and sleeves et cetera.”

Of course, Ramadan this year coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant economic troubles, making it even more important to support regional brands. Faiza Bouguessa, founder of ready-to-wear label Bouguessa, says, “Today, more than ever, we need to support our favorite local businesses to help them survive this difficult time. We need to keep in mind that they are the most fragile and that behind each one of these businesses there are people — and often families — that rely on their salaries. If money is an issue, just posting a picture of your favorite piece you bought from that brand can help.”

Fans of Bouguessa’s label include Beyoncé and Priyanka Chopra, but she says it is her regional clientele who are the backbone of her business. “Middle-Eastern people consume local brands a lot and are very supportive of homegrown talent,” she tells Arab News.

But there is still plenty of potential for growth, stresses Bahrain-based Saudi designer Deema Ajlani.

“The region is fiercely loyal and proud to wear local when it comes to specific items of clothing like kaftans and abayas, but this does not necessarily translate into the realm of ready-to-wear,” she says.

 

Aljani hopes that, as countries around the world look to boost their local economies, all aspects of regionally designed fashion will become increasingly popular.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Ife dress is a perfect look for Eid. Shop it online now. . www.deemaajlani.com . #eid #readytowear #deemaajlani

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“Regional fashion has always had something to offer, and it has definitely stepped up its game in the past decade. I personally am an advocate of buying local and love nothing more than to nurture local products and businesses,” she says. “We should all be supporting local — also from a sustainability angle — now more than ever.” 


In interview with Oprah, Meghan says British royals refused to make her son a prince because of his dark skin

In interview with Oprah, Meghan says British royals refused to make her son a prince because of his dark skin
Updated 41 min 6 sec ago

In interview with Oprah, Meghan says British royals refused to make her son a prince because of his dark skin

In interview with Oprah, Meghan says British royals refused to make her son a prince because of his dark skin
  • Harry: my father Prince Charles stopped taking my calls
  • Interview with Oprah Winfrey follows break with royals

LOS ANGELES: In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday, Harry and Meghan described painful discussions about the color of their son’s skin, losing royal protection and the intense pressures that led the Duchess of Sussex to contemplate suicide.
The interview with Oprah Winfrey was the couple’s first since they stepped down from royal duties and the two-hour special included numerous revelations.
Harry told Winfrey that he felt trapped by royal life and was surprised that he was cut off financially and lost his security last year. He also said he felt his family did not support Meghan, who acknowledged her naivete about royal life before marrying Harry, as she endured media attacks and false stories.
Meghan, who is biracial, described that when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” The statement led Winfrey to ask “What,” incredulously and sit in silence for a moment.
In a rare positive moment in the interview, Harry and Meghan revealed their second would be a girl. The interview opened with Winfrey gushing over Meghan’s pregnancy and lamenting that COVID-19 protocols kept them from hugging.
The interview aired Sunday night in the United States, a full day before it will air in Britain. The revelations aren’t over: Winfrey teased additional bits of the interview would be shown Monday morning on CBS.
In response to a question from Winfrey, Harry said he wouldn’t have left royal life if he hadn’t married Meghan, but that it was their relationship that revealed the strictures of royal life.
“I wouldn’t have been able to, because I myself was trapped,” Harry said. “I didn’t see a way out.
“I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped,” Harry said, before adding, “My father and my brother, they are trapped.”
Harry acknowledged that he does not have a close relationship presently with his brother William, who is heir to the throne after their father, Prince Charles.
The prince disputed rumors that he intentionally blindsided his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, with his decision to split. He suspects the rumors came from the institution.
“I’ve never blindsided my grandmother,” he said. “I have too much respect for her.”
Meghan, too, was complimentary toward the queen, despite saying at one point she realized some in the palace were willing to lie to “protect other members of the family.”
“The queen has always been wonderful to me,” Meghan said.
Winfrey at various points in the interview ran through headlines about Meghan and at one point asked about the mental health impact. Meghan responded that she experienced suicidal thoughts and had sought help through the palace’s human resources department, but was told there was nothing they could do.
Meghan said she grew concerned about her son not having a royal title because it meant he wouldn’t be provided security.
Meghan said digesting everything during while pregnant was “very hard.” More than the “prince” title, she was the most concerned about her son’s safety and protection.
“He needs to be safe,” a teary-eyed Meghan recalled. “We’re not saying don’t make him a prince or princess, whatever it’s going to be. But if you’re saying the title is going to affect their protection, we haven’t created this monster machine around us in terms of click bait and tabloid fodder. You’ve allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe.”
Meghan said it was hard for her to understand why there were concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin color. She said it was hard for her to “compartmentalize” those conversations.
Harry, too, said there are lasting impacts about Meghan’s treatment and his relationship with his family.
“There is a lot to work through there,” Harry said about his relationship with his father. “I feel really let down. He’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And Archie is his grandson. I will always love him, but there is a lot of hurt that has happened.”
Harry said the royal family cut him off financially at the start of 2020 after announcing plans to step back from his roles. But he was able to afford security for his family because of the money his mother, Princess Diana, left behind.
Sunday’s interview special opened with Meghan describing how naive she was about the ground rules of royal life before she married her husband, Harry, nearly three years ago. “I didn’t fully understand what the job was,” she said. She also noted that she did not know how to curtsy before meeting Queen Elizabeth II for the first time, and didn’t realize it would be necessary.
“I will say I went into it naively because I didn’t grow up knowing much about the royal family,” Meghan said. “It wasn’t something that was part of conversation at home. It wasn’t something that we followed.”
As Meghan Markle, the actor starred in the TV legal drama “Suits.” She married Harry at Windsor Castle in May 2018, and their son, Archie, was born a year later.
Meghan said she and Harry were aligned during their courtship because of their “cause-driven” work. But she did not fully comprehend the pressure of being linked the prestigious royal family.
“It’s easy to have an image of it that is so far from reality,” she said. “And that’s what was really tricky over those past few years, is when the perception and the reality are two very different things. And you’re being judged on the perception, but you’re living the reality of it. There’s a complete misalignment and there’s no way to explain that to people.”
At the top of the interview, Winfrey ran through several key points: that the production was following strict COVID-19 protocols, no topic was off limits and that Meghan and Harry were not being paid for the special.
Royal interviews that aren’t tied to a specific topic are rare, and prior televised sessions have often proved problematic. Prince Andrew’s 2019 BBC interview about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein led to his own departure from royal duties after he failed to show empathy for Epstein’s victims.
Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal duties began in March 2020 over what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess.
In Britain, the interview is seen as poorly timed. It will air while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather Prince Philip remains hospitalized in London after undergoing a heart procedure.
It is unclear what public reaction, if any, the queen and other royal family members will have to Sunday’s interview. The UK’s Sunday Times newspaper, citing an anonymous source, reported that the queen would not watch it.


Saudi Ministry to launch fashion promotion’s third phase

Saudi Ministry to launch fashion promotion’s third phase
The exhibit is intended to explore the ways in which Muslim women embrace and express style. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2021

Saudi Ministry to launch fashion promotion’s third phase

Saudi Ministry to launch fashion promotion’s third phase
  • The ministry aims to attract and encourage talent in the emerging Saudi fashion industry to promote local brands on the local and international levels

RIYADH: The third phase of the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s fashion incubation program will kick off on April 11 in an effort to promote the fashion sector and cultural entrepreneurship in the Kingdom.

Startups wishing to participate in the third phase can register on  https://engage.moc.gov.sa/fashion_bootcamp between March 7 and 15.

For five months, the selected startups will work together with the help and support of experts and specialists to develop their ideas and projects, and qualify them to compete in the market.

The ministry aims to attract and encourage talent in the emerging Saudi fashion industry to promote local brands on the local and international levels. It also seeks to establish an integrated and comprehensive fashion system that relies on exchanging expertise among specialists, young entrepreneurs and startups.

The fashion incubation program is divided into three phases: Fashion Hackathon, Fashion Bootcamp, and Incubator, providing participants with an intensive training and fashion-related concepts.


Elie Saab presents glamorous Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection

Elie Saab Fall 2021 Couture collection. Supplied
Elie Saab Fall 2021 Couture collection. Supplied
Updated 07 March 2021

Elie Saab presents glamorous Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection

Elie Saab Fall 2021 Couture collection. Supplied

DUBAI: Lebanese couturier Elie Saab presented his eponymous label’s Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection on Saturday. 

A celebration of strong women, the over-80-piece offering boasted both daytime and evening options and was punctuated with glamorous, heavily-embellished gowns, pleated maxi skirts, expertly-tailored separates and flared jumpsuits. Some of the looks were paired with bold, over-the-knee leather boots and opera gloves or dangling crystal-embellished earrings.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

The color palette was largely monochromatic, with bursts of blush pink and lime. Meanwhile, lashings of marabou feathers, tiny sequins, beads and ruffles added an extra dose of glamour. 

With a global pandemic that rendered virtually every red carpet event redundant and prompted many to cancel special occasions like weddings in addition to the Aug. 4 explosion in Beirut, it’s safe to say that 2020 was a difficult year for the Lebanon-born designer. 

“I think that what the Lebanese people have suffered since the fourth of August and onwards is by far worse than war,” Saab told Arab News. “It has been a very difficult time for all of the Lebanese people. I do not know if sometimes the Lebanese forgot about COVID-19 only to come out of the terrible disaster of the 4th.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

However, the designer assured Arab News that the couture collection was not severely impacted by this difficult period.

“People were not interested (in couture) and those who had events postponed them,” he said. “But afterwards, the machine started working again all by itself, as it should,” the designer added.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

“Thankfully, we’re doing very well in couture. We did not feel a difference in numbers

between this year and the previous one,” he shared.

The couturier has been keeping quite busy. He recently debuted Elie Saab Maison, an elegant lineup of furniture, lighting, rugs and home accessories, and only last month he launched  a 28-piece collection of watches comprising stainless steel and diamonds.


Priyanka Chopra teams up with chef behind popular Dubai restaurant

Priyanka Chopra is launching a restaurant called Sona in New York. File/AFP
Priyanka Chopra is launching a restaurant called Sona in New York. File/AFP
Updated 07 March 2021

Priyanka Chopra teams up with chef behind popular Dubai restaurant

Priyanka Chopra is launching a restaurant called Sona in New York. File/AFP

DUBAI: Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas has teamed up with chef Hari Nayak, the culinary talent behind Dubai’s Masti eatery, to launch an Indian restaurant called Sona in New York, she announced on Instagram on Saturday.

“I’m thrilled to present to you SONA, a new restaurant in NYC that I poured my love for Indian food into. SONA is the very embodiment of timeless India and the flavors I grew up with,” Chopra poste d on Instagram.

“The kitchen is helmed by the incredible Chef @harinayak, a masterful talent, who has created the most delicious and innovative menu, taking you on a food journey through my amazing country. SONA is opening later this month, and I can’t wait to see you there! This endeavor would not have been possible without the leadership of my friends Maneesh Goyal and David Rabin. Thank you to our designer Melissa Bowers and the rest of the team for realizing this vision so clearly,” she added.

The new outlet is a collaboration with restauranteur David Rabin and entrepreneur Maneesh Goyal.

In January, Chopra kickstarted her own hair care line. Named Anomaly, the brand is vegan, eco-friendly and in the affordable price bracket.


Britney Spears’ Mideast-born beau Sam Asghari reveals how the couple met

Britney Spears and Sam Asghari met in 2016. File/AFP
Britney Spears and Sam Asghari met in 2016. File/AFP
Updated 07 March 2021

Britney Spears’ Mideast-born beau Sam Asghari reveals how the couple met

Britney Spears and Sam Asghari met in 2016. File/AFP

DUBAI: In a new interview with Forbes, US-Iranian actor and fitness enthusiast Sam Asghari opened up about the beginnings of his relationship with US popstar Britney Spears.

The 27-year-old met the “Baby, One More Time” singer in 2016 during a music video shoot for “Slumber Party,” but he admitted that he was hesitant about being in the clip.

“I wanted to do TV, I wanted to do film,” he told the publication. “I didn’t want to… be known as a music video actor, but a good friend of mine was working on a project and they referred me to the team that was picking out the leading role for ‘Slumber Party.’”

"My girlfriend now, at the time, personally picked my picture and she wanted me to be cast in the music video," he continued, referring to Spears.