Guerlain’s master perfumer Thierry Wasser on why the Gulf is a constant source of inspiration

Guerlain’s master perfumer Thierry Wasser on why the Gulf is a constant source of inspiration
The nose behind some of the maison’s most iconic fragrances, Thierry Wasser joined Guerlain in 2008. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 April 2023
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Guerlain’s master perfumer Thierry Wasser on why the Gulf is a constant source of inspiration

Guerlain’s master perfumer Thierry Wasser on why the Gulf is a constant source of inspiration

DUBAI: Guerlain’s master perfumer Thierry Wasser is no ordinary man.

The nose behind some of the maison’s most iconic fragrances, Wasser joined Guerlain in 2008 to fill the shoes of his predecessor, Jean-Paul Guerlain. This made him the fifth-ever perfumer in the house’s history and its first non-family name.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Wasser was recently in Dubai to reveal Guerlain's latest bee bottle, designed in collaboration with Lebanese designer Nadine Kanso, and he spoke to Arab News about his role at Guerlain and how the Gulf Cooperation Council region continues to inspire him.

The maison’s latest perfume, Reve d’Amour, housed in a bottle designed by Kanso, is one Wasser described as a festival of white flowers.

He said: “I also wanted something linked to Nadine, which is the cedar wood – it’s the emblem of Lebanon.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Middle East, specifically the GCC region, is important to Wasser. He noted an encounter with an Emirati man 15 years ago, which led to the creation of Santal Royal in a bee bottle designed by artist Tarek Benaoum.

“I created Santal Royal after a conversation with an older gentleman who said, ‘you European people don’t know how to design a big wow perfume.’ And he explained to me what a fragrance means for an Emirati.”




Guerlain's latest bee bottle, designed in collaboration with Lebanese designer Nadine Kanso. (Supplied)

From that conversation, Wasser learned how some Emirati men rub rose oil on their nose and beard before greeting someone.

“GCC, for me, isn’t only about business but also a source of inspiration. The significance of fragrance here is profound compared to Europe and America,” Wasser added.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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He pointed out that strength, diffusion, and long-lastingness were very important in the region.

“In Europe, you put perfume on your skin. Here, very often, it’s on the clothes. And if you learn about the longevity of the composition on clothes versus on the skin, you write your formula rather differently,” he said.

Wasser became a perfumer by chance and revealed that his initial trade was medicinal herbs.

“I got kicked out of school when I was 15 because I found it boring and got a diploma in botany instead,” he added.




Lebanese designer Nadine Kanso. (Supplied)

During the 1970s, the Swiss national joined Givaudan Perfumery School in Geneva, where he discovered he had a knack for scents.

He said: “The head of the school was struck by my ability to describe scents using words – that was my strong point.”

After graduating, he worked in Paris and New York before his appointment at Guerlain. His experience at the maison has been unique compared to his roles at other companies.

“Guerlain is very specific compared to its competition. Since 1828, they manufacture everything they sell – there are no frozen pizzas in the kitchen.”




Thierry Wasser became a perfumer by chance and revealed that his initial trade was medicinal herbs. (Supplied)

He learned the art of manufacturing and sourcing from and with Jean-Paul Guerlain.

“Previously, I was only designing fragrances. With Guerlain, everything starts from scratch. I spend 35 percent of my time sourcing flowers in the fields,” he added.

From the Indian state of Tamil Nadu comes jasmine, vetiver, and mimosa while pepper is sourced from Madagascar. With a vertically integrated supply chain, Wasser is often knee-deep in flower fields and knows his suppliers well.

He said: “Jean-Paul Guerlain was sourcing the bergamot from the south of Italy from the same family, which is now in its third generation.

“Fragrance is incarnated by the people who pick the flowers and transform them into the oil. So, when I smell a rose from Bulgaria, it has a meaning to me because I know the pickers and transformers. There is an emotional charge to all those different ingredients, and that’s why I think our fragrances are alive,” Wasser added.


Arab designers take over Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet

Arab designers take over Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet
Updated 25 February 2024
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Arab designers take over Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet

Arab designers take over Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet

DUBAI: Arab designers Saiid Kobeisy, Waad Aloqaili, Tony Ward, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad had their moment at the 2024 Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on Saturday in Los Angeles.

First up, Keltie Knight was all here for bows and their big comeback. The Canadian TV personality wore a stunning strapless gown from Lebanese designer Saiid Kobeisy featuring a gigantic black bow on the bodice as well as tiny tulle beaded bows across the entire piece.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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US actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph put Saudi fashion in the spotlight, donning a strapless, black gown from couture label Waad Aloqaili. Founded in 2019 by sisters Waad and Ahlam Aloqaili, Waad Aloqaili Couture, the eponymous label produces bi-annual collections inspired by “personal experience and the collective female journey,” as seen on their brand website.

Meanwhile, Hollywood star Reese Witherspoon opted for a fiery red look, wearing a bright gown from Lebanese couturier Elie Saab’s spring 2024 haute couture collection.

Witherspoon walked the red carpet in a strapless floor-length dress featuring a high slit and scooped neckline. The gown, crafted with a pleated bodice and gathered wrap skirt, was styled with a pair of Gianvito Rossi heeled sandals.

English actress Hannah Waddingham, known for her roles in “Game of Thrones” and “Ted Lasso,” channelled her best Marilyn Monroe, in a glimmering ruby couture gown from Lebanese label Tony Ward. Her deep red off-the-shoulder gown featured a thigh-high slit and long train.

English actress Hannah Waddingham, known for her roles in “Game of Thrones” and “Ted Lasso,” channelled her best Marilyn Monroe, in a glimmering ruby couture gown from Lebanese label Tony Ward. (AFP)

US actress and comedian Abby Elliott, of “Bear” fame, was elegance personified as she opted for a sleek black gown from Lebanese label Zuhair Murad’s Spring-Summer 2024 ready-to-wear collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Cast members from FX’s “The Bear,” available to stream on Disney+ in the Middle East, won in three categories at Screen Actors Guild Awards, including Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, Ayo Edebiri for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series and Jeremy Allen White for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series.

Christopher Nolan’s hit biopic “Oppenheimer” dominated this year’s Screen Actors Guild awards.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The cast of the biographical epic won for best ensemble, ahead of “Barbie” and “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Cillian Murphy picked up male actor in a leading role, while Robert Downey Jr won for male actor in a supporting role for playing Lewis Strauss in the film.

Lily Gladstone took home female actor in a leading role for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” beating Emma Stone and Margot Robbie.


Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series

Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series
Updated 25 February 2024
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Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series

Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series

DUBAI: Through an open-call competition, Palestinian director Saleh Saadi was selected by MENA-based broadcasting network OSN to film his upcoming six-episode series, “Dyouf” (meaning “guests” in Arabic). 

Saadi submitted his project in response to OSN’s Writer’s Room mentorship program, which was also organized by The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, that aims to support aspiring filmmakers and writers from the region. 

Originally from the bedouin village of Basmat Tab’un, Saadi has previously created two social-themed short films that dealt with his native Palestine: “Borekas” (2020) and “A’lam” (2022).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The filmmaker says that he did not grow up in an environment that had a film institute, let alone an overall industry, but that didn’t stop his creativity, which began at home with simple means. 

“My family doesn’t have an artistic background. Their focus was to give us a good life, but they used to take pictures of us with a small camera,” Saadi told Arab News. “My siblings would film with a video camera and make little plays. . . I don’t know why it stuck with me.”

From a young age, he taught to edit and filmed sketches with his family members, who acted in his creations. “To them it was good fun, but I took it seriously,” he recalls. Saadi grew up “glued to the television set,” watching sitcoms. He also admires the work of notable Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, whose films have been shown at the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

Saadi’s winning submission “Dyouf,” a dramedy which is in the process of development, centers around the protagonist Shadi, who returns to his homeland after living abroad and feels lonely. His mother has set up a guesthouse that is being frequented by tourists. 

Each episode, delving into the themes of relationships and identities, will focus on one tourist. “Through these guests, we understand the country more. One of the main characters is the country,” Saadi explains. “It shows a certain reality, the day-to-day life and little moments of the day. I think different people will be able to relate to the show in different ways.”

Saadi adds that shooting in Palestine comes with its own set of tricky challenges, from funding to on-site disturbances. “Things are more and more difficult. I don’t want to be cheesy, but it’s also become more and more important. There are difficulties from start to finish, where anything can happen.”

Despite the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, Saadi is heartened by how Palestinian cinema is slowly on the rise in the region and abroad, through film festivals and cultural events. “I am very happy because I feel like there are more films on Palestine. They tell our stories,” he said

“We have so much love for our people, our family and our land. All kinds of art have an important role to play. Through art, we are showing that, despite all difficulties, the love is still there.”  


Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway

Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway
Updated 24 February 2024
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Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway

Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway

DUBAI: US-Dutch-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid, a staple on Versace runways, made a remarkable return to the Italian brand’s catwalk this week during Milan Fashion Week.

The supermodel stunned the runway in a black sheer, collared dress featuring intricate button-down detailing and a daring thigh-high slit. Complementing her ensemble, she sported black latex gloves and accentuated her look with sharp eye makeup.

Hadid was joined by other part-Arab models, including Imaan Hammam, who is Moroccan, Egyptian and Dutch, and Loli Bahia, who is French Algerian.

Hammam donned a printed blazer layered over a brown top. (Getty Images)

Hammam donned a printed blazer layered over a brown top, completing her ensemble with black tights and thigh-high leather boots. Just like Hadid, she accessorized with latex gloves and striking eye makeup.

Bahia wore a black mini-dress. (Getty Images)

Bahia opened the runway show in a black mini-dress, complementing her ensemble with a bold pop of color courtesy of a fiery red purse.


From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom

From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom
Updated 24 February 2024
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From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom

From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom

LOS ANGELES: From working in finance to gracing the stage and screen, Yasmine Al-Bustami has emerged as a dynamic talent on the rise.

Known for her roles in “The Originals,” “NCIS: Hawai’i” and “The Chosen,” the actress was born in Abu Dhabi to a Palestinian-Jordanian father and a Filipino mother.

Al-Bustami grew up in Texas and began work in the world of finance, but soon found that she was not fulfilled and began to dig for something more exciting.

“I had never taken acting classes or anything, but I knew to get auditions you needed an agent,” she said. “So I just emailed all the Dallas agents and one of them was so sweet, emailed me back … I was sending in my business resume, too, I didn’t even have an acting resume. I was like, ‘this is where I went to university. I have a finance degree.’ None of that. They don’t care.

“And (the agent) goes, ‘well, clearly, you have no idea what you’re doing. Go to class. And here are some acting class recommendations.’ Then from that, I just kept taking classes in Dallas, then moved to Los Angeles,” she said.

Al-Bustami began with a brief appearance in a health-related commercial before making her television debut in “The Originals,” appearing in the recurring role of Monique Deveraux, a villain in the first season.

The actress was born in Abu Dhabi to a Palestinian-Jordanian father and a Filipino mother. (Getty Images)

Today, she has a role in hit spinoff “NCIS: Hawai’i” and the historical drama “The Chosen,” which recently moved to the theater.

“On ‘The Chosen,’ I play Ramah,” she said. “And when you meet her, it’s in season one. I’m in one of the episodes, episode five, and I basically work with Thomas the Disciple, and we have a little bit of romance there. We are very flirtatious with each other, and then you start to see that develop from seasons two to now, the season that is out right now is season four.”

Part of the challenge Al-Bustami faced was gaining the approval of her parents and finding roles true to her ethnicity.

On the latter note, she has scored a role representing women of color in the dark comedy show “Immigrants.”

“We just finished the pilot and that is by my friend Mustafa Knight, and it’s basically how we have described it is like ‘Friends,’ but with color,” she said.

“I’ve never been more proud to be an immigrant because now I also have an outlet to express that to people through storytelling,” the actress added. “It’s a different kind of gratefulness whenever you get the opportunity to play something that you are actually.”

The show is described as a dark comedy series following the “misadventures of six unlikely friends through their trials and tribulations on what it really means to be American in America.”


Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion

Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion
Updated 24 February 2024
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Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion

Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion
  • From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event
  • The Saudi Cup carries a prize fund of $35.4 million, with the $20 million Saudi Cup race itself maintaining its position as the most valuable race in the world

RIYADH: The Saudi Cup, the Kingdom’s annual international horse race, returned this weekend in Riyadh for its fifth edition with a head-turning display of fashion.

From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event that takes place Feb. 23 and 24.

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, special adviser to the chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, spoke to Arab News about fashion at the event — and the vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the event. 

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal wore an intricately embroidered tulle covering over a robe with embroidered detailing on the cuffs. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)

He “really had a vision, and not just for fashion, but he had this idea that he wanted the event to represent our culture and our heritage in every way possible,” she said.

“I have to say I am delighted and super excited by it and especially this reintroduction of our heritage to the younger generation … (and) seeing what this younger generation is doing with that, you know the experimentation,” she added.

Princess Nourah donned an intricately embroidered tulle covering over a robe with embroidered detailing on the cuffs from Art of Heritage.

Influencer and model Rakan Alhamdan also showed off attire inspired by his country.

“Today, I’m wearing Siraj Sanad — he’s a Saudi (designer) in Jeddah. As you can see, it is heritage-style clothing with three embroidered triangles which Najd is known for,” he said, referring to the Saudi region of Najd which is famous for its triangles visible in architecture and embroidery.

Influencer and model Rakan Alhamdan. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Other guests showed off a rainbow of colors at the fashion-forward event, with modern takes on Saudi attire spotted across the venue — from gemstone-covered burqas to elegant kaftans complete with heavy embroidery.

The Saudi Cup carries a prize fund of $35.4 million, with the $20 million Saudi Cup race itself maintaining its position as the most valuable race in the world.

- Additional reporting by Hams Saleh