Regional designers unveil latest lines at Arab Fashion Week

SemSem Spring 2021 collection. Supplied
Short Url
Updated 25 October 2020

Regional designers unveil latest lines at Arab Fashion Week

DUBAI: The 12th edition of Arab Fashion Week (AFW) came to a triumphant close in Dubai this weekend. The occasion was quite different than usual as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic meant that the four-day-long event was strictly digital, with brands showcasing their collections virtually. 

SemSem closed out the fashion week with a glamorous Spring 2021 collection that was presented as a five-minute video shot in the designer Abeer Al-Otaiba’s US residence. 

Speaking of her new collection, the designer explained: “SemSem’s Spring 2021 collection is a statement on women’s strength, illustrated through engineered lines and geometry. For spring, the brand focused on couture plissé techniques and graphic pyramid-inspired silhouettes.”

The result was a lineup of pleated dresses and glamorous evening gowns in emerald jewel tones and Mediterranean blue modeled by catwalk star Aminata Niaria. Meanwhile, soft and luxurious silks were hand-embellished with Swarovski crystals to create dramatic kaftan-inspired looks.

The designer drew inspiration from “women, who, when faced with the challenges of 2020, continued to persevere and thrive despite the uncertainty.”

Her engineering background and Middle Eastern heritage — the designer is Egyptian — also served as inspiration during the creative process. Her mood board consisted of clippings of The pyramids, Egyptian goddesses, the Mediterranean sea as well as geometric architecture by Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando.

Dubai-based Iraqi womenswear designer Zeena Zaki also showcased her Fall 2021 collection during AFW. Inspired by “the inner beauty of women,” the new offering contains 16 distinct looks sure to suit every taste.

“The collection contains various types of fabrics to satisfy every customer’s taste,” the designer shared with Arab News, “Though, due to the pandemic, many of the needed materials were out of market and it wasn’t easy to source,” she added.



A post shared by Zeena Zaki (@zeenazaki) on

Known for her ultra-feminine, body-hugging designs, the designer chose “luxurious fabrics and harmonized colors that empower and reveal the beauty of every woman.”

Standouts include a white, off-the-shoulder gown with sheer long sleeves and a ruffled skirt that would look equally as chic floating on a red carpet as it would down the aisle. 

Other designers to present their new collections during the audience-less, digital-only event included Jordanian womenswear label Mada’En, Lebanese designer Aboud Jammal and Dubai-based couture house Amato, among many others.

Tom Hanks talks ‘News of the World’ and the comeback of Westerns

Tom Hanks stars in ‘News of the World.’ (File/AFP)
Updated 29 November 2020

Tom Hanks talks ‘News of the World’ and the comeback of Westerns

LOS ANGELES: Depending on who you ask, Westerns are either on their way out, gone for good, or making a slow comeback in Hollywood. At one point a staple genre of the film industry, the classic Western rarely makes it onto the movie theater marquee these days. Big-budget flops such as 2013’s “The Lone Ranger” have served to usher the genre out of popularity, but critical successes such as Quinten Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” “The Hateful 8” and the Coen Brothers’ “True Grit” are doing their part to keep Westerns from dying off completely. 

On Christmas Day, “News of the World” will be doing its part to keep the Western genre alive, and hopefully bag Universal Pictures a few Oscar nominations. Arab News heard more from the film’s star Tom Hanks.

“I love listening to a great story as much as I like telling one, and that’s why I was so excited about playing Kidd,” Hanks said, giving audiences a taste of what his performance has in store. “He is a storyteller. He is driven, emotional. He is noble. He is moved by a pursuit of the truth.”

Hanks plays Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a former army officer who, after the death of his family, makes his living traveling around Texas reading the news to illiterate townsfolk and entertaining with true tales from across the world.

“'News of the World' takes place in the shadow of the Civil War’s end. There is defeat. There is strife and anger. Because of the war, Kidd came back to having nothing left,” he told us. “Reading the news gave him a purpose. He got up. He collected the stories. He delivered a reading and then he moved onto the next town.”

 As he continues in his travels, Kidd comes across Johanna, a young girl who had been taken from her pioneer family and raised by the Kiowa Native Americans. 

“She has no idea who her family is,” Hanks shared. “Burdened by his own decency, Kidd is going to have to return her to her family and this coming from a man who has lost any semblance of what a family is.”

The movie is adapted from the novel of the same name by author Paulette Jiles, and while it is not based on a true story, its main characters are inspired by real people. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is based on the ancestor of a friend of Jiles’ — the similarly named historical figure Captain Adolphus Caesar Kydd — who performed readings of newspapers in the 1870s. Johanna is inspired by the more well-known historical tale of Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped and raised by the Comanche Native Americans.

Interestingly, there seems to be a disagreement between Jiles and film director Paul Greengrass about their goals in portraying the story of “News of the World.” In a 2016 interview with Texas Monthly, Jiles stated that she had no intention of making a commentary on contemporary politics with the original book, preferring to “move people into the world of imagination.”

Greengrass, on the other hand, told reporters at Vanity Fair that he saw the film, which features families and communities in conflict with each other, as representative of the societal divide in the modern-day US. With these opposing ideas woven into the fabric of the story, it will be interesting to see what audiences take away after watching.

It is clear what Universal is hoping to take away, and that is an Oscar. “News of the World” sees Hanks and Greengrass working together again after their previous collaboration, 2013’s “Captain Phillips.” While not an Oscar-winner, “Captain Phillips” received six nominations as well as attention at the Golden Globes and other award shows. With the film releasing at the tail end of the Oscar season, and a road-tested team of director and star, “News of the World” could be Universal’s best shot at an award for the 2020 film year.

Between award season dreams and the hopeful continuation of the Western genre, there is a lot riding on “News of the World.” At its core, however, the movie promises A-list performances and a compelling story full of action and heart.

“Kidd goes through something that saves him as much as he saves Johanna. She gave him a true purpose,” Hanks told us. “His real message is ‘when you have love in your life you will be alright.’ That’s what all great stories are. It’s just pure love for another human being.”