DUBAI: This past week at US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Senator Bernie Sanders struck a pose that instantly went viral. Wearing a Burton coat and handmade mittens gifted to him by a local teacher almost three years ago, Sanders waited for the inauguration to start, bundled up, with his arms and legs crossed. Almost instantly, the image became a meme.
Now, Lebanese diva Haifa Wehbe decided to jump on the bandwagon by sharing her own version of the Bernie Sanders meme on Twitter — and fans can’t get enough.
“The most funny meme I’ve seen in my life,” commented one user.
“The best meme so far,” agreed another fan.
Social media users superimposed the 79-year-old into a number of different scenarios, art works and pop culture tropes, including rapper Drake’s “Views” album cover, inside Edvard Munch's “The Scream,” and sitting front row next to Frank Ocean during fashion week.
Fans even edited the senator and his famous upcycled gloves into the pottery making scene from the classic film “Ghost” starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze;
Just days after the image was seen and memed around the world, Sanders’s camp released an image of the Senator on a sweatshirt, which immediately sold out and saw 100% of the proceeds go toward Meals on Wheels Vermont.
Scroll down for some of the funniest and most creative Bernie Sanders memes.
Malika El-Maslouhi is the star of the Dundas Fall 2021 collection
Updated 46 min 18 sec ago
DUBAI: Norwegian designer Peter Dundas presented the Dundas Fall 2021 collection this week with a little help from Malika El-Maslouhi. The fashion heavyweight tapped the Moroccan-Italian rising model to showcase the glamorous new offering, which was digitally presented in a look book format.
The 22-year-old, who was born in Milan to an Italian mother and a Moroccan father, features in the look book, shot by fashion photographer Charlotte Wales in London, wearing 31 looks that range from draped minidresses and velvet pantsuits to slender duster coats and the brand’s newest category — hosiery.
“If we’re ever allowed to go out at night again, I promise I’m stepping out in @dundasworld,” wrote El-Maslouhi on Instagram alongside a carousel of videos and photos that included backstage clips from the shoot. “What a fun day it was and loved to rock these looks. Thank you for having me,” she added.
Indeed, the collection is perfect for post-lockdown revelry.
Inspired by the glamour of the 1930s and the 1970s, the collection was punctuated with flowy wide-leg trousers, tailored jackets worn over lavish dresses, fringed tops and skirts, feathered cardigan dresses and lots of animal print.
The London-based designer chose rich and luxurious fabrics such as velvet and charmeuse and details like ostrich fur and sequins to dream up the latest offering.
El-Maslouhi, who is signed to VIVA Model Management, made her modelling debut when she was 18 years old at the Alberta Ferretti Fall 2019 show and went on to walk for the Dior Cruise 2020 show held in Marrakech a month later.
She would go on to quit her university studies to pursue modeling full-time, and completely captivate the fashion industry in the process.
In addition to gracing the runways of storied fashion houses such as Hermes and Chanel, the rising fashion star has also appeared in international campaigns for the likes of Jacquemus and Zadig & Voltaire, and was selected as the face of Calvin Klein swimwear.
Meanwhile, the model, who splits her time between Italy, France and the Netherlands, was also recently selected as the cover star of the latest edition of Elle France.
Valentino collaborates with Mideast’s Magrabi on sunglasses for summer
Updated 27 February 2021
DUBAI: Sunglasses might be a small accessory, but they have a large impact. The importance of a great pair of shades can’t be understated, especially in our region where the sun shines virtually all year round. Fortunately, the sunglasses market is brimming with stylish and wearable shapes to suit all faces and styles. The most recent pair to hit our radar is the new Valentino x Magrabi sunglasses. Dubai-based fashion influencers Maram Zbaeda and Zoya Sakr were recently spotted rocking a pair.
The Italian luxury maison has collaborated with the regional eyewear brand on a limited-edition range of sunglasses that hit shelves this week.
The exclusive collaboration is limited and features just 30o pairs of bold, square-shaped sunglasses engraved with “Valentino Magrabi Edition” inside the temple. The acetate shades also boast smoked lenses and the iconic VLogo Signature in gold metal on the side for an added statement.
Each pair comes enclosed inside a sleek red box bearing Valentino’s distinctive logo, alongside a unique authenticity card and serial number, so it would also make a covetable gift to give and to get.
The exclusive collaboration is available to purchase at Magrabi stores across Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Kuwait, and with summer just around the corner, consider picking up a new pair—or two, for the even sunnier days ahead.
Saudi Fashion Commission CEO Burak Cakmak unveils plans for the future
Updated 27 February 2021
DUBAI: Last week it was announced by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture that Burak Cakmak had been appointed to lead the Kingdom’s Fashion Commission, one of the 11 bodies under the Kingdom’s Ministry of Culture, to help develop the country’s burgeoning fashion industry.
“I was honored to have a chance to join the team at the Fashion Commission to lead the implementation of an ambitious strategy to build a robust fashion industry in Saudi Arabia,” said Cakmak, a former Dean of Fashion at the Parsons School of Design in New York, to Arab News.
“Saudi Arabia has all the key elements for building a successful fashion industry today. With traditions and heritage to inspire, its creative community keen to build new businesses and a fashion conscious young population engaged in retail and social media with fashion. Saudi (Arabia) is in a great place to become a key influencer in the region and globally,” he added.
In his new role as the CEO of the Fashion Commission, Cakmak will be responsible for a string of tasks, including supporting and empowering talent, professionals and entrepreneurs in the local fashion industry, developing and regulating the fashion sector as well as encouraging finance and investment.
“One of my main focus areas is to identify opportunities for Saudi to create fashion solutions that are innovative, technology driven, sustainable and aligned with the expectations of the 21st century global consumer,” said Cakmak of some of the changes he would like to implement in his new role.
“As we are building and growing a relatively new industry in the country, we need to ensure we don't repeat the mistakes of the West from the past century. This means that we need to focus on building new business models that are able to manage social and environmental impacts, (and that are) transparent and innovative in the way they engage the consumer.”
In addition to managing and developing the fashion sector in Saudi Arabia, Cakmak also hopes to shine a positive spotlight on the Kingdom’s burgeoning fashion scene.
“At the moment there is not enough information available about the creativity coming out of the Kingdom to the rest of the world,” he noted. “The richness of the country’s heritage and crafts, as well as its designers, with both traditional and modern takes on Saudi fashion, is a great starting point for us to start shaping perceptions around the Saudi creative industry.”
In the past two years alone, Saudi Arabia has rolled out a series of changes that can be attributed to Vision 2030, a plan that focuses on modernizing Saudi culture, diversifying its economy away from oil, attracting new global investments, and supporting small local businesses. One of the areas that is showing real potential is the country’s fashion sector.
“Recent initiatives around tourism and a deeper focus on diversifying local economic sectors have been a great catalyst in stimulating the fashion industry,” Cakmak said.
Indeed, the country’s fashion sector is rapidly on the ascent. In the last couple of years, the country hosted its first-ever Fashion Week in Riyadh in 2018, the Dubai-based Arab Fashion Council opened up an office in Riyadh and Saudi fashion designers are getting more recognition than ever as they lay the groundwork for a real, thriving fashion industry.
“Mohammed Khoja’s brand, Hindamme, produced a jacket embroidered with the words ‘24 June 2018’ – the date women in Saudi started driving, which was acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London as part of their permanent fashion collection. Meanwhile at the end of last year, the brand of Saudi sisters – Sarah and Siham Albinali – Lurline, was declared joint second runner-up in the Vogue Arabia Fashion Prize. And one of Mohammed Ashi’s creations was worn on the red carpet by Oscar-nominated director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay at the Academy Awards in 2017,” recalled Cakmak, highlighting some of the many success stories from Saudi Arabia.
But despite growing interest and support from events like Arab Fashion Week, a lot of brands struggle with a lack of access to capital and resources necessary in a functioning fashion ecosystem. Cakmak hopes to change that in his new role.
“A brand can only succeed if they are able to couple creativity with a sound business strategy,” he explained, adding “I am working closely with the Fashion Commission team and the Ministry of Culture to ensure we are creating the right infrastructure to develop the industry. First and foremost, we want to support fashion entrepreneurs with the right regulatory frameworks relevant to the fashion industry. As we assess the local fashion ecosystem, we are identifying areas for new job opportunities and fashion businesses that can be created locally to support a growing fashion industry in Saudi Arabia.”
Cakmak received a bachelor’s degree at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey in 1997.
His career in the fashion industry began in 2000, serving as Gap Inc.’s senior manager of social responsibility. After eight years, he relocated to London and was hired by European conglomerate Kering to lead sustainability strategies for the luxury group’s brands — including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga — as its first director of corporate sustainability.
He was appointed as dean of fashion at Parsons School of Design in 2016, where he made it his mission to educate the next generation of fashion creatives about the importance of environmental and social responsibility.
With his 15-year-strong background in sustainability, Cakmak hopes to make the topic a key focus in his new role in Saudi.
“As the Fashion Commission, we are keen to bring the latest tools for measuring and reporting on the sustainability impact to local brands and share knowledge on how to build more sustainable business models for the fashion industry,” he shared.
“Made in KSA will be a key focus to create short supply chains where we can encourage on-demand production and mass customization to minimize returns and left-over inventory for the industry,” he added of his strategy to minimize the impact of the fashion supply chain in the Kingdom.
As for his long-term goals for Saudi’s fashion sector, Cakmak just wants to position the country as a key player in the global fashion industry.
“In collaboration with the Fashion Commission team, Ministry of Culture and all other relevant government entities, I hope to put in place the incentive and infrastructure to achieve this goal,” he said.
“I have worked with fashion businesses all across the globe and have a good understanding of the opportunities and challenges they face. I also have a good view on the latest developments in the industry, and access to a global network of experts who we can tap into to shape the future of fashion in the Kingdom. I am really excited to be a catalyst to bring such positive change to the country.”
What We Are Reading Today: European Passerines by Tomasz Cofta
Updated 27 February 2021
Opening up new frontiers in birdwatching, this is the first field guide to focus specifically on the identification of European passerines and related land birds in flight. Showcasing 850 stunning and remarkably lifelike color illustrations from acclaimed bird artist Tomasz Cofta, produced using the latest digital technology, backed up with more than 2,400 photographs carefully selected to show typical flight profiles, it provides detailed and unsurpassed coverage of 205 European passerines and 32 near-passerines. This cutting-edge book brings a new dimension to birdwatching, the concise and authoritative species accounts presenting novel yet essential information on the flight manner of individual birds and the structure and behavior of flocks — features that are key to identification, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. It also includes precise transliterations of flight calls, supported by sonograms, and links to a unique collection of hundreds of online audio recordings. Beautifully designed and written in an accessible style, this book will appeal to birdwatchers of all abilities.
Syrian artist Tammam Azzam: ‘To be an artist is an endless dream’
The acclaimed Syrian artist on challenges, loss and optimism
Updated 26 February 2021
LONDON: It must be strange for artists to hear people theorizing about their art. Talking to Tammam Azzam, you get the sense that, while he is happy to engage and listen, the Syrian artist is not particularly interested in adding layers of rumination to what he has already expressed on canvas.
“Sometimes even the artist cannot realize the message because there is no message — just a visual language,” he says. “Even I don’t know exactly what it means.”
Part of the reason that people want to talk about the ‘meaning’ or ‘message’ in Azzam’s work is that his images are so powerful. When you look at his photomontage “Bon Voyage” — showing a shattered Syrian apartment block suspended by balloons in front of the burning Twin Towers — you feel a flood of mixed emotions. Azzam explains the thinking behind the piece: “This image is about the evil and imbalance in our world. Every life is important, whether American or Syrian, and it is right that 9/11 is commemorated every year. But who is commemorating the Syrian casualties?”
Azzam’s 2013 “Syrian Museum” photomontage series, in which he inserted famous masterpieces into scenes of destruction from the ongoing civil war in his country, garnered international attention. Asked why he juxtaposed Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” with the mangled wreckage of a bombed-out building, he answers: “Besides my love and admiration for Van Gogh, I chose to show his night sky — full of energy and movement — to make a sharp contrast between beauty and destruction.”
Another striking image from the same series shows Paul Gauguin’s “Tahitian Women on the Beach” transplanted into an arid landscape with a UNHCR refugee tent in the background. “This came from seeing women around the camps just sitting and waiting — actually for nothing,” he says. “Gauguin’s women were sitting and contemplating and I just put them in a different location, situation and atmosphere.”
Much of the global attention was focused on “Freedom Graffiti,” which superimposed Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” onto a ruined apartment block. It was the final image in the series and Azzam was taken aback by the publicity it attracted.
“It’s strange, because as an artist I was just creating my work. I don’t know the secret behind that,” he says. “I spent a year working on this project and after the Klimt I felt that there was no need to go further,” he said. “I am always questioning myself: ‘How long am I going to use this technique and why?’”
Azzam studied fine art at Damascus University, specializing in oil painting. And after graduating, he went into graphic design. The combination of those two disciplines clearly informs his work, and he mentions the German-based Syrian artist Marwan Kassab Pashi — whose workshop he attended at university — as a major influence.
In 2011, Azzam was forced to flee his country. He was assisted by Ayyam Gallery, which has helped him and other artists start new lives in Dubai and Beirut. For Azzam, the pain of leaving was amplified by the loss of his studio and materials, on top of the cultural shift.
“It took me three years to adjust to living in Dubai. It’s another system and mentality. Everything was different. And very expensive. In Damascus I had my studio and my materials. In Dubai I felt everything was lost; I couldn’t go anymore to the old souk where I used to get my materials,” he says. “Before Dubai I never thought about creating digital art, but because I was a graphic designer for 10 years in Syria, that helped me make the shift.”
After five years in Dubai, he moved to Germany in 2016 taking up a residency at the Hanse Institute for Advanced Studies in Delmenhorst. Once again, he found himself grappling with the challenges of adapting to a new environment, culture and language. In 2018, he moved to Berlin where he now lives. His family is scattered due to the war.
“Like so many Syrian families, we are dispersed around the world,” he says. “It’s sad, but it’s nothing compared to what’s happening to people still in the country and unable to leave. My parents are still in the village where my father, a writer, has his library. He is still writing. They are not in a conflict area, but daily life is difficult with just a few hours of electricity each day and no gas for heating.”
His parents, he says, were always supportive of his desire to be an artist. “I was lucky,” he says. “It was my dream from a young age. To be an artist is an endless dream.”
In Germany, his focus recently has been on collage. “It was a new step for me — a big challenge to use a new medium,” he says. Even in this new medium, however, the message remains consistent. One recent work is a representation of a building with its façade blown out, revealing glimpses of wallpaper, painted walls, and fabrics, all exposed to the elements. “I saw so many building like this,” he says. “Totally destroyed with interiors that used to be full of life and color.”
His next show is at Berlin’s Kornfeld gallery in April and that is the focus of Azzam’s carefully structured days at the moment.
“I work every day, alone. It is very important to me to work otherwise I can’t do anything,” he says. “I feel optimistic even with all the bad daily news. We will find good things alongside the bad.”