Calligraphic classics go under the hammer at Sotheby’s

Calligraphic classics go under the hammer at Sotheby’s
Sotheby’s ‘Arts of the Islamic World & India’ sale was held March 31. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 April 2021

Calligraphic classics go under the hammer at Sotheby’s

Calligraphic classics go under the hammer at Sotheby’s
  • Highlights from Sotheby’s ‘Arts of the Islamic World & India’ sale, held March 31

Illuminated Qur’an copied by Ahmad Al-Rumi, dated 1447 CE

This manuscript, Sotheby’s said, “represents an outstanding calligraphic feat by one of the foremost practitioners in the history of the Islamic Arts of the Book, Ahmad Al-Rumi. He is known as a master of the six pens and was held in great esteem at the Timurid Court. … A small number of works by the scribe are known, including only one other Qur’an, rendering the manuscript to hand both extremely important and rare.” In this manuscript, Al-Rumi displayed his mastery of the art, using four different scripts — “a strong and angular Muhaqqaq interspersed with a fine and balanced Naskh for the main text, an elegant Thuluth for the surah headings, with the addition of Tawqi on the final page” — with extraordinary skill. “The colophon page is extraordinary, as not only do we see the text in four scripts, but also the use of the musalsal method, in which a pen isn’t lifted from the page, resulting in a seamless ‘chain’ of calligraphy,” Sotheby’s added in the catalogue notes. Sold for £378,000.

Illuminated Qur’an made for the chief justice of Jerusalem and Nablus, dated 1514 CE 

This remarkable complete copy of the Qur’an was scribed by master calligrapher Abu Al-Fadi Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Shafi Al-Sunbati Al-Araj — a royal scribe to a Mamluk sultan and a student of Yasin Al-Jalali — and is dated 1514 CE. The piece was commissioned by a former chief justice of Jerusalem and Nablus, Jalal Al-Din Abu Al-Waffa Mohammad Ibn Junis Al-Hanafi, and was later owned by Hajj Uthman Kanoo Isma’il, who was mayor of Yanbu Al-Bahr, in Hijaz. The verses are written in the Naskh script, with surah headings in larger gold Thuluth script outlined in black. “The generous use of gold and silver in the illumination and text illustrates the wealth and prestige of the patron of this Qur’an,” the catalogue notes said. It also sold for £378,000 at the auction.

A compendium of works relating to the Hajj, from the 18th century

This manuscript contains two works — the first is an essay on Makkah, the Hajj, and the measurements of the Great Mosque; the second is a copy of the “Futuh Al-Haramayn,” a famous guidebook to the cities of Makkah and Madinah, originally written in the early 16th century, which included instructions for pilgrims on the rituals of the Hajj and the religious sites they could visit. This book, written in Nasta’liq script with important words written in red ink, also contains 19 illustrations of Makkah and Madinah. Sold for £50,400 at auction.

10th-century Qur’an leaf in gold Kufic script (12-18k sterling)

A real rarity — this folio containing five lines to the page of gold-colored script is part of one of just a handful of Qur’ans in which gold Kufic script was used. It would, the auction house explained, “have been a lengthy and expensive process, indicating a commission at the highest level of patronage.” It is believed to have originated from the Near East, and sold for £37,800 at auction.

Bifolium from the ‘Five Surahs,’ circa 1370

Pages taken from a manuscript of selected Qur’anic chapters (1, 5, 18, 34, and 35) that all begin with the phrase ‘Al-hamdulillah.’ The pages have been traced back to a manuscript that gives the name of the scribe as Abdul Qayyum Ibn Muhammad Ibn Karamshah-I Tabrizi. Sotheby’s cited calligraphy expert David James as describing Tabrizi’s work here in the Muhaqqaq script as, “Faultless perfection … equaled only by Suhrawardi in the Qur’an produced in Baghdad in the early years of the 14th century.” Sold for £37,800.

Illuminated Mamluk Qur’an from Egypt or Syria in the 14th century

“This lavishly illuminated section comes from what must have been an impressive Qur’an in several volumes,” said Sotheby’s of this manuscript — in which the verses are written in Muhaqqaq script and separated by gold florets, while the titles are written in white Kufiq script on blue backgrounds with gold embellishments. The 42 leaves of the manuscript are bound in leather. “Its decoration and illumination recall both Ilkhanid court production (and) early Mamluk manuscripts, rendering it testament to these cross influences at the beginning of the 14th century,” the catalogue notes continue. Sold for £50,400.

Mid-14th-century Qur’an leaf attributed to Arghun Al-Kamili

Pages from a Qur’an that is believed to have been scribed by Al-Kamili, one of the most prolific calligraphers working in Baghdad in the middle of the 14th century CE — a time when the Iraqi capital was the center of the calligraphic arts. Al-Kamili was one of the six famous pupils of Yaqut Al-Mustasimi — the secretary of the last Abbasid caliph, and was, Sotheby’s said, “renowned to a point that illuminators of his manuscripts signed their work in a wish to stress their association with him.” This leaf is written in Rayhani script and its verses are separated by blue and gold rosettes. It was expected to fetch around $20-25,000 at auction.

Illuminated Qur’an copied by Abdullah Al-Qadir Al-Husayni in the 16th century

“This magnificent and well-preserved Qur’an has all the hallmarks of the most refined manuscripts of the Safavid period,” the catalogue notes said. Copies of the Qur’an were traded between the Ottoman and Safavid empires despite the animosity between them, and Qur’ans such as this were often offered as gifts to the Ottoman court by Safavid envoys. This particular manuscript is written in Naskh script and contains some fine examples of full-page illumination.


Gigi Hadid is collaborating with Buddy Valastro from ‘Cake Boss’

Gigi Hadid is collaborating with Buddy Valastro from ‘Cake Boss’
The 26-year-old model spent the entire day as a baker’s apprentice. Instagram
Updated 20 June 2021

Gigi Hadid is collaborating with Buddy Valastro from ‘Cake Boss’

Gigi Hadid is collaborating with Buddy Valastro from ‘Cake Boss’

DUBAI: Gigi Hadid spent an entire day interning at Buddy Valastro’s — star of America’s reality TV hit “Cake Boss” — Carlo’s Bakery in New Jersey this week.

“Best. Day. Ever,” the part-Palestinian model wrote alongside an Instagram carousel featuring piping bags and a selfie with Valastro. “Somethin’ coming soon from Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and his biggest fan/newest Carlos Bakery intern. Thank you to the whole famiglia for the warmest welcome. Big, big love,” she added.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Valastro reposted the selfie on his personal page and wrote about his newest pastry chef: “You may know Gigi Hadid as a world-famous supermodel, but she’s also the sweetest person ever and one amazing cake decorator, too!”

While neither the catwalk star nor the Cake Boss offered up details about their collaboration, the two have a longstanding relationship.

The self-proclaimed biggest fan of “Cake Boss” revealed that she’s been watching the show for a decade and that there almost isn’t an episode that she’s missed.

Valastro memorably made the mother-of-one’s “everything bagel cake” that brought her to tears for her 25th birthday.

She wrote at the time that she “10/10 would be a Carlo’s intern whenever needed.”

Hadid also commissioned the famous baker to make the cake for her partner, former One Direction star Zayn Malik’s 28th birthday in January in the shape of a Bradford Football Club jersey.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Moroccan-Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi is the face of a new fragrance

Moroccan-Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi is the face of a new fragrance
The 22-year-old is the face of La Perla’s signature scent. Instagram
Updated 20 June 2021

Moroccan-Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi is the face of a new fragrance

Moroccan-Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi is the face of a new fragrance

DUBAI: La Perla, one of the most luxurious womenswear labels, is starting its own cosmetics collection, La Perla Beauty. Launching next month, the new offering consists of four body-care products, five makeup products for the lips and eyes and nine fragrances, with Moroccan-Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi as the face of its signature scent.

“Proud to be the face of the very first signature fragrance by La Perla Beauty,” wrote El-Maslouhi to her 30,600 Instagram followers, alongside a campaign video for La Perla’s new signature fragrance shot by director Massimiliano Bomba where the catwalk star answers a series of rapid fire questions.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MALIKA (@malika.elmaslouhi)

El-Maslouhi, who was born in Milan to a Moroccan father and an Italian mother, first teased the exciting news on social media back in May. The model posted a couple of behind the scenes snaps of herself clutching the glossy black and white fragrance bottle, captioning the carousel of images: “You have no idea how excited I am for this one!”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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In the four years since she started out, the 22-year-old has racked up an impressive number of campaigns.

The breakout model has lent her face to a number of renowned fashion houses, including Calvin Klein Swim, Zadig & Voltaire, Off-White, Ralph Lauren and Lanvin.

She has graced the runways of fashion houses that most models can only dream of, such as Dior, Chanel, Valentino and Jacquemus.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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When she’s not modeling collections, she’s helping to design them.

She recently teamed up with London-based retailer Ishkar on a range of necklaces handcrafted by jewelers in Kabul, Afghanistan.


Kevin Hart in a new form struggling with parenting a toddler in ‘Fatherhood’

Kevin Hart in a new form struggling with parenting a toddler in ‘Fatherhood’
‘Fatherhood’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied
Updated 20 June 2021

Kevin Hart in a new form struggling with parenting a toddler in ‘Fatherhood’

Kevin Hart in a new form struggling with parenting a toddler in ‘Fatherhood’

CHENNAI: Father-daughter relationships on screen come in many forms. While one of the best I have seen was the 2016 “Toni Erdmann” from Germany, the Paul Weitz-directed “Fatherhood,” now on Netflix and starring Kevin Hart, is rather different. Here, the focus is on a very young girl and her bonding with her widowed father.

The movie opens with Matthew Logelin (Hart) standing in a church completely devastated by his young wife’s death just hours after their baby girl, Maddy, is born. Based on Logelin’s 2011 bestseller, “Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love, “ Weitz’s work is a tender tale of how a young father grapples with bringing up his infant girl, juggling between his strenuous corporate job and the demands of the baby.

The film stars Kevin Hart and Melody Hurd. Supplied

When she never stops crying, his friend suggests he use some kind of sound to lull her into sleep. And it works. His mother-in-law and his own mom both offer to stay with Matthew, but he says he wants to do it all by himself, playing both father and mother.

Even his two best friends, Jordan (Lil Rel Howery) and Oscar (Anthony Carrigan), are not sure that Matthew would be able to handle fatherhood. They have known him for years as one who took life easy and did not think much about responsibilities.

The emotional film touches on the relationship between a single father and his daughter. Supplied

But Matthew proves them all wrong, and the first half of the movie follows him through the ups and downs of single parenting, from changing diapers to sleep training.

A touching relationship evolves between the father and daughter, and we see her grow up into a perky five-year old, full of questions and pranks, but her father, in spite of pressing work assignments, never loses his patience. The tragedy seems to have completely elevated him into a finer human being, and he even lets go a relationship with his girlfriend when he finds that it comes in the way of his caring for Maddie.

With “Fatherhood,” Hart has transformed himself into a more serious actor. Supplied

“Fatherhood” is a tearjerker, and we see a very different side of Hart, who has been well known for comedy roles in films such as “Think Like A Man,” “The Secret Life of Pets” and “About Last Night.”

He has been a brilliant stand-up comedian, but with “Fatherhood” he has transformed himself into a more serious actor. It came as a lucky break for him when he was being accused of bitterly homophobic utterances.

“Fatherhood” appears to have pushed all these into the shadows, with Hart giving a wonderfully nuanced performance. But it is Maddy’s Melody Hurd who is completely adorable and a natural.


Moroccan-British model Nora Attal turns heads at Dior Cruise 2022 collection

Moroccan-British model Nora Attal turns heads at Dior Cruise 2022 collection
Nora Attal showed off a sporty look during the Dior 2022 Cruise collection show in Athens. Getty Images
Updated 19 June 2021

Moroccan-British model Nora Attal turns heads at Dior Cruise 2022 collection

Moroccan-British model Nora Attal turns heads at Dior Cruise 2022 collection

DUBAI: French fashion house Dior this week returned to live audience shows with an extravagant presentation of its partly-sports inspired 2022 Cruise collection in Athens’ Panathenaic stadium, the 4th-century site of the first modern Olympic Games, 70-years after an iconic Dior shoot at the Acropolis.

Dior’s Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri enlisted models, including Moroccan-British star Nora Attal, to showcase the sport-infused designs that made up the collection in the presence of celebrities that included film star Catherine Deneuve, model Cara Delevingne and “The Queen’s Gambit” actress Anya Taylor Joy, as well as Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

Nora Attal showed off a sporty look during the Dior 2022 Cruise collection show in Athens. Getty Images

Dior also broadcasted the event live on social media, television and in public areas in Greece.

For Chiuri’s first focused foray into athleisure, Attal wore a striped, waterproof unitard with an attached hood, paired with matching shorts and futuristic sneakers. A pair of scuba-inspired goggles, studded wristbands and an oversized bowling bag completed the look.

“The Queen’s Gambit” actress Anya Taylor Joy was one of the stars in attendance. AFP

The 22-year-old, who made her runway debut in 2017, is a catwalk fixture at the house of Dior. She has walked in plenty of shows for the Parisian maison, including the most recent Fall 2021 ready-to-wear show in March. 

She also turned heads at the French maison’s socially-distanced Spring 2021 ready-to-wear show in Paris, as well as at the brand’s Spring 2019 couture, Spring 2018 ready-to-wear and Fall 2018 couture shows, among others.

Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri focused on athleisure for the cruise collection. AFP

The Dior Cruise 2022 collection — which featured a color palette of mostly black, white, grey, gold and blue — also boasted suits inspired by jackets and pants worn by iconic German-American actress Marlene Dietrich.

Peplos, the robe traditionally worn by women in ancient Greece, was also a major source of inspiration for the show’s eveningwear components.

The work of Greek artisans was featured in the collection, including a tailor and embroiderer from Argos in the Peloponnese, a silk factory in the northeastern town of Soufli, and a maker of fisherman’s caps from the port of Piraeus.

The work of Greek artisans was featured in this collection. AFP

Additionally, after receiving the green light from Greece’s top archaeological advisory body to have photoshoots in some of the country’s cherished ancient sites, such as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the temple of Poseidon at Sounio and the temple of Zeus at Nemea, Dior presented the photographs from the shoot during the runway show.

 


French fashion house Balmain seeks inspiration from Arab divas for Resort 2022 line

French fashion house Balmain seeks inspiration from Arab divas for Resort 2022 line
Balmain resort 2022. Supplied
Updated 19 June 2021

French fashion house Balmain seeks inspiration from Arab divas for Resort 2022 line

French fashion house Balmain seeks inspiration from Arab divas for Resort 2022 line

DUBAI: Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing grew up not knowing who his birth parents were. He was adopted by a French couple from the region of Bordeaux when he was a baby. It wasn’t until very recently that the young designer discovered his genetic heritage. His mother is from Somalia and his father is Ethiopian. His parentage is set to be explored in a forthcoming Netflix documentary, “Wonder Boy,” launching on June 26. It will follow Rousteing’s 10-year tenure at Balmain, in addition to his search for his biological parents.

Due to the pandemic, Rousteing has been unable to visit Somalia or Ethiopia, though he has been vying to go. Instead, he has taken to researching the Horn of Africa and was particularly moved by a visit to the exhibition “Arab Divas: From Oum Kalthoum to Dalida” currently taking place at the Arab World Institute in Paris for Balmain’s Resort 2022 collection. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The exhibition’s influence is palpable throughout the new collection, which Rousteing has dubbed “perhaps his most personal offering to date,” especially when it came to the jewelry.

The designer also reflects on his Ethiopian and Somali heritage in the collection by way of loose silhouettes, strong patterns and rich textures.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The offering comprises 60-looks, and offers both womenswear and menswear in the form of roomy ponchos, silky kaftans and mini dresses for women as well as bomber jackets, loose trousers and sharply-tailored, embellished blazers for their counterparts.

The new collection marked the 75th anniversary of Pierre Balmain’s debut presentation with Balmain’s 2022 Resort Collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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In celebration of the milestone, the designer chose to revive the archival labyrinth print, invented by Pierre Balmain and reintroduced by Rousteing, splashing it on oversized hobo bags, floor-length coats, palazzo pants, wrap skirts and crop tops. “The clients really like it, so we played with it even more,” he said.

Another highlight of the collection is a pair of fur shoes that are notably cruelty free– the footwear consists of a mix of faux fur and long-haired goat fur sourced from the goat-milk industry.