Lifestyle – Daily News Egypt https://dailynewsegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Mon, 25 Sep 2017 18:45:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Suki Designs: heritage as seen by contemporary designers  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/09/14/suki-designs-heritage-seen-contemporary-designers/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/09/14/suki-designs-heritage-seen-contemporary-designers/#respond Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:00:31 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=635868 "Our brand aesthetic depends on the essential link between modern casual that goes hand in hand with an ethnic flair." Says co-founder

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In a country, where art and heritage decorate the old alleys while museums stand tall at each corner, flaunting a Fatimah-hand metal bag comes as a natural morning decision.

In a small workshop hidden in Cairo, a mother and daughter work hand in hand to turn the country’s most iconic memoirs into carry-able tokens of fashion. Sometimes they put their effort into modernizing a popular local motif, while at other times they resort to reviving forgotten techniques.

Mervat Refai and Mai Ezzat are a mother and daughter duo that have always enjoyed art. After experimenting with various media, luckily for Egyptian women, bags came in as a new medium two seasons ago.

“We have always had an interest in both art & fashion. We even took several classes together since I was in college. We have both always went back to art at each and every important phase in our lives; meanwhile, we have studied art at many different points. We love the notion of creating something from scratch together,” said Ezzat.

In a country, where art and heritage decorate the old alleys while museums stand tall at each corner, flaunting a Fatimah-hand metal bag comes as a natural morning decision.
(Photo Handout to DNE)

While one of them might spend a day or two to master a new moulding technique, the other would more often take charge of the intricate filigree occupying centre stage of their best-selling bag.

“Originally, I started this because I simply wanted to paint and start my own business, when my mother joined in to help she discovered how much she really enjoyed this.” Ezzat added “At the time, my mother already had many paintings along with her custom-made chairs and tables, which she hand paints and draws on.”

Few months before their first collection came to the day light, Ezzat’s plan was to merely experiment. Driven by the fact that she wanted to have the utmost freedom to explore and take more risks, the duo ventured away from common concepts and techniques.

“Bags were not the first thing on my mind when I started; it was more of a coincidence. I never thought this is what I would be doing.” Ezzat elaborated “At first, I just wanted to paint on different materials and leather was one of them. Then, before I knew it, I started taking an interest in leather goods.”

In almost a year and with two catchy collections, the ladies behind Suki Handbags managed to convince fashion-savvy customers to give up their high-end logo leather bags for a number of colourful handmade alternatives. The Egyptian brand depends on hand-painted genuine leather accessorized with a rainbow of patterned fabrics.

With that said, the brand’s true head-turner is the new metal line. The limited edition designs borrow inspiration from the country’s rich culture, while the “Kaf” metal hand comes in the shape of a Fatima hand, “Zamzameya” turns traditional flasks into a fashion statement. Furthermore, the “Shifteshy” bag is a true advocate of an old technique, which represents an essential cornerstone in Egyptian craftsmanship.

“It has always intrigued me that our culture is absolutely affluent with a diversity of cultural and artistic references. Nonetheless, when I started researching I was further amazed with the number of concepts that could be adapted from local heritage.” Ezzat added “our brand aesthetic depends on the essential link between modern casual that goes hand in hand with an ethnic flair.”

The founders’ artistic background is highly evident in each of the brand’s designs. Whether it is the versatility seen in their foldable bags or in the selection of colourful stones rooted in the Shifteshy bag, Ezzat and Refai are always keen to offer collector pieces.

Even though the golden age of metal and leather craftsmanship in Egypt is fairly gone, the couple insist on sourcing their materials and manufacturing their bags locally as they both believe that the designs have a unique identity that will only further shine when kept authentic.

“In terms of production, any design with brass is often much more tricky. Unfortunately, craftsmanship is a family business that used to be passed from one generation to the next. However, recently many have abandoned their ancestors’ craft to go and work in other fields,” said Ezzat.

Aside from depending on brass, their metal line embraces few catchy; yet, difficult details. While the “Kaf” is embellished with dainty tassels, the “Shifteshy” bag reinterprets the old method to create detailed see-through ornament.

After becoming a regular at every summer party in coastal destinations as well as breakfast outings in the capital, Suki designs is clearly becoming a new local favourite. Meanwhile, the founders remain to surround themselves with their passion for art as well as a group of trusted craftsmen in preparation for a new collection and a much anticipated international outreach.

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Kurtis Paul hand-held accessories for modern gentlemen https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/09/14/kurtis-paul-hand-held-accessories-modern-gentlemen/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/09/14/kurtis-paul-hand-held-accessories-modern-gentlemen/#respond Thu, 14 Sep 2017 12:00:43 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=635869 For years and years, men have contemplated the components of a woman’s bag. One glossy publication after the other, asked the same question; what is often found in a woman’s closest companion and why would one person need so many options of the same accessory? With fashion changing and evolving, handbags have crossed gender boarders …

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For years and years, men have contemplated the components of a woman’s bag. One glossy publication after the other, asked the same question; what is often found in a woman’s closest companion and why would one person need so many options of the same accessory?

With fashion changing and evolving, handbags have crossed gender boarders to reach a whole new demographic. Season after season, bags have become a daily accessory that many men accept as fashionable associates.

From duffel bags to business suitcases, today’s number one accessory in the men’s section comes in all sizes and shapes. It is currently common knowledge that no runway is complete without a bag and no outfit is ready to face the world without a hand-held accessory.

Kurtis Paul is a British name for handbags that appeal to men from around the globe. The contemporary brand caters for whom they define as ‘The Modern Gentleman’.

Kurtis Paul is a British name for handbags that appeal to men from around the globe
(Photo Handout to DNE)

According to the founders, he is someone, who is determined and on his way to great discoveries; always motivated by continuous self-development; intellectually and physically.

Meanwhile, his love for travel is evident in the way he enjoys experiencing different cultures. Finally, also appreciates a healthy body and lifestyle.

After captivating many modern gentlemen in their home country the brothers behind the brand currently have their eyes fixed on the Middle East. Through e-commerce, the brand has already acquired their position in many regional closets.

Daily News Egypt talked with Lloyd Thomas, one half of the winning duo, to learn more about their aesthetic, demographics and reaching out to the Middle East.

If the two of you, founding brothers, where bags; what styles would you be and what details would you bare? 

Let’s start with Kurtis, if Kurtis was a bag he would be the Donald Drawstring beach bag. It is simple, with not much going on; yet, has a purpose for which it fulfils perfectly. I on the other hand would be the Cromwell Leather Duffel bag. Obviously, I am the sophisticated one, more of an all-rounder and I like to spend a lot of time in the gym.

What does the brand’s name stand for? 

The brand was born in the back street of Manchester, for those who have not visited this great city it is a British workhorse, full of industrial buildings and a great sense of culture.

Naturally, our home town has shaped much of who we are and many of our designs are inspired by the architecture in which we are surrounded. In particular the industrial vibe has instilled in us a pride of craftsmanship and we strive for the perfect product.

Kurtis Paul exists to answer the luggage requirements of a very specific elite of male and naturally we ensure we achieve this better than anyone else.

How does your relationship as brothers reflect on the brand? 

The relationship of any team has a significant impact on the company, its ethics and how good it is at doing business. In the example of Kurtis and myself this is particularly strong in the way we approach a problem.

Being brothers we naturally have a good understanding of how the other one works; it is this asset that I believe has pushed us to where we are today.

The product range we design is by no means ‘girly’, the bags we create are specifically designed in a way that they provide perfect function with materials that are fashionable and durable.
(Photo Handout to DNE)

How would you evaluate the Middle-Eastern market? What is your best-selling design in the Middle East? 

The Middle-Eastern market is certainly on the rise, there have been dips in the Mid-East fashion scene; but, in recent years it feels like a new lease of life has been injected.

We now get a lot of interest from these regions, in particular since launching the Arnold Canvas Duffel bag we have seen this become the best seller in the region. I believe it is the simplicity of design that resonates with the wardrobe of places like Saudi Arabia, United Emirates and Qatar.

Bags are often associated to women, why do you choose to target men only? 

I would agree with this generalization; however, there has definitely been a cultural shift over the past 3-5 years. The boundaries between genders is blurring and men are looking for new ways to personalize, accessorize, and stand out.

The product range we design is by no means ‘girly’, the bags we create are specifically designed in a way that they provide perfect function with materials that are fashionable and durable.

The choice to target men was made because this is the market we could most influence, we could see that male luggage needed to be re-invigorated.

What are your near-future plans? 

The future is an exciting place for Kurtis Paul, in the near term it is our intent to spread the message. Engaging with our loyal followers as much as possible and continue to pour our heart and soul into the products we make.

It is our intent to widen our reach with America, we feel the hipster vibes of L.A and such would really resonate with the brand.

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Reem Jano turning arabesque windows into fine jewellery  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/09/07/reem-jano-turning-arabesque-windows-fine-jewellery/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/09/07/reem-jano-turning-arabesque-windows-fine-jewellery/#respond Thu, 07 Sep 2017 14:30:06 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=635456 "Each window has its own story, hence design. On the other hand, when the light passes through these windows, new designs emerge naturally," says Reem Jano

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With a backpack strapped to her shoulders, she goes to meet the buildings she often refers to as business partners.

Even though she has walked through these alleys more than she can possibly remember, they still keep surprising her with new stories. During her regular journeys, she often passes by a window that became a colourful motif on one of her bangles or a mosque dome that she deconstructed into a statement necklace.

As she clutches her sketch book close to her heart, her eyes swipe the path ahead searching for the desired story that would ignite the first spark.

Reem Jano is a local jewellery designer that has managed to become an unexpected definition of modern Arabesque art. Her statement designs combine the authenticity of Islamic art with geometrical silhouettes and modern enamel details.

Jano is a prominent individual in the new local wave of jewellery designers, who aim to tackle global markets with local craftsmanship. After practising interior design, the artist shifted interest after studying at the Design Studio by Azza Fahmy.

Daily News Egypt sat with the designer to talk about the personal experience of turning historical buildings into contemporary fine forms of expression.

Arabesque is a traditional pattern, what did you aim to add to it?

To me, “Arabesque” is a form of Arabic art that constitutes of different geometrical shapes. Being originally an interior designer, my eye is attracted naturally to details found in mosques and buildings.

My evident keenness on adding traditional patterns to my collections is a reflection of my profound love of the exquisite details found in old Arabic mosques and interior design of historic buildings.

Photo Handout to DNE

This is where my inspiration often come from and I work effortlessly to show it in a modern; yet, authentic method.

What did you aim to communicate through Islamic art?

In my opinion, Islamic art is unique and quite distinctive. Through my designs, I always aim to communicate the spirituality of that specific era; meanwhile, I also want to give it a fashionable and chic interpretation, which can appeal to a global audience.

Which architectural parts (windows, doors, floor mosaics, etc.) inspire you the most? 

Khan el Khalili as a whole inspires me! I have to say that I am in love with the windows and the shadows created by the shutters.

If you focus on the details, you will find that each window has its own story, hence design. On the other hand, when the light passes through these wooden arabesque patterns, new designs emerge naturally.

Accordingly, the longer you keep staring at these windows, the more secrets will flicker right in front of your eyes.

Dainty jewellery seem to be making a great come back. Why did you prefer to go for statement? 

I love how a statement necklace can be simple; yet, bold at the same time. For example, the long stars necklace with dangling arabesque sphere is one of my favourites because it is quite versatile; it can be worn front, side or back.

Do you work on each piece by yourself? 

Yes, of course. I start with the design, then I create paper model, before developing a full detailed sketch and scale. Next step is often examining it and applying few modifications according to my inner gut feeling.

I constantly need to feel that this piece has a part of myself invested in its details; my designs represent me. Only then, I consider my masterpiece ready to meet the public.

Photo Handout to DNE

How did your participation in the IFS two years in a row reflect on your brand and expertise as a designer?

I represented Egypt at the “International Fashion Showcase” in London fashion week 2016 and 2017.

It has certainly garnered international attention for the brand; especially that it came after my participation with two pieces in the “Mineral Art” competition in Germany in 2014, where my pieces were selected to be exhibited at the Gemstone Museum for 6 months.

What does each international event and showcase add to your brand? 

Over the past years, being a designer and transforming raw material into wearable pieces of jewelry has always struck me as magic. I believe that Egypt consists of many civilizations that need to be represented globally in an artistic and expressive way.

I want to show people around the world the true beauty behind our culture. To me, the most-basic creative need is the ability to translate an inner vision into reality; I believe jewellery design is my tool to do so.

What is next for Reem Jano?

I have a busy agenda for the next few months. I will be working with Deliguoro, founder of Arti Star, an established jewellery brand in Milan, on a special collection.

Meanwhile, I have my eyes currently set on global expansion; on the other hand, I will continue to tell local stories through my jewellery.

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Dima Jewellery celebrates summer with Sea of Jewels  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/24/dima-jewellery-celebrates-summer-sea-jewels/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/24/dima-jewellery-celebrates-summer-sea-jewels/#respond Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:00:16 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=634683 After stepping into the cosy villa, the eye starts to absorb the details planted at each corner. While a lady sits still in a chair to get her face painted with glitter and synthetic jewels another chats with the event’s designated DJ; trying to settle on the season’s top hit. It is not long before …

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After stepping into the cosy villa, the eye starts to absorb the details planted at each corner. While a lady sits still in a chair to get her face painted with glitter and synthetic jewels another chats with the event’s designated DJ; trying to settle on the season’s top hit.

It is not long before the host sways towards the door to greet the new comers. The lady of colour and precious stones moves in accordance with her maxi chiffon dress. While her blonde hair reflects the incoming rays of sun, her layered necklaces and bangles chime in celebration of meeting a new soon-to-be fan.

Encrusted with opal and jade stones, designer Dima Rashid threw an exclusive summer party at her Sahel house to introduce the new collection. The event welcomed the brand’s loyal clients, who walked in flaunting their favourite jewellery from the brand. On the other hand, few renowned socialites and influencers also made sure to get their hands on the new pieces.

Sea of Jewels is as colourful and mesmerizing as the name might imply. The fine jewellery collection embraces Rashid’s signature gold coins and rainbow or teardrop-shaped stones. Meanwhile, it also complies with the season’s top must-have items; such as chokers and statement hoop earrings.

The hot season seems to approve the brand’s preferred hue as it demands an armour of gold layers. Therefore, Dima Jewellery rose to the occasion through reinterpreting few of the brand’s top hits. Walking the lines of the current trends, Rashid also introduced versatile necklaces and bangles that could be layered and styled in endless ways.

On the other hand, she brought back her vintage coins, which broke the internet and attracted several international buyers few seasons ago. This time the Roman-inspired pendants are mixed with hammered coins as well as doses of turquoise, ruby, chrysoprase and amethyst.

Since chokers are a controversial trend that everyone loves to hate, the designer played smart through tailoring her signature infinity coin necklace into different sizes and length options. Allowing her client to settle for a favourable summer companion, which could be styled to match any of the designer’s new masterpieces.

Rashid is a Palestinian designer that laid the foundation of her brand in Egypt more than a decade ago. In a matter of few years, Dima Jewellery effortlessly advocated precious stones as the designer is always keen on educating her clients regarding the unexplored power and effect of them.

Despite the designer’s international recognition from names as big as Harvey Nichols, Vogue and Naomi Campbell she still prefers to keep her designs quite personal as she offers extensive personalizing options for her customers.

 

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Moda Fit: e-commerce synonym for local summer attire https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/24/moda-fit-e-commerce-synonym-local-summer-attire/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/24/moda-fit-e-commerce-synonym-local-summer-attire/#respond Thu, 24 Aug 2017 10:00:29 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=634680 Our main goal was to have a well-established online shopping website, with trendy designs as well as affordable prices, says co-founder

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In a classroom hidden within a buzzing school sat two young girls swapping Barbie dresses and discussing recent fashion finds. Despite their young age, they already had the eye to recognize a princess dress from an outdated ensemble.

With days and years rapidly passing by the doll outfits were replaced with prom gowns and high heels. While their interests changed drastically, fashion still remained their common ground. At the end of every hectic week or so, the two best friends always found themselves staring at the small screen of a laptop browsing for a new statement t-shirt or a floral skirt.

Engy Ali and Rana Bablli are two young businesswomen that grew up to bring their childhood goals to reality. After years of shopping online and having to survive minor heartbreaks every time the dress did not match the online picture or the fabric proved to be of lower quality than desired, the duo decided to take matters in their own hands.

Moda Fit is a home grown e-commerce website that gives women a hustle-free opportunity to find the perfect morning dress. The online shop puts the clothes in centre stage with simple background designs and straightforward buying process. Meanwhile, it also showcases a selection of shape-flattering dresses, jumpsuits, rompers and summer sets.

Daily News Egypt sat with Ali to discuss the main concept behind Moda Fit, manufacturing in Egypt and future plans to dominate the Arab region.

Photo Handout to DNE

What is the main concept behind Moda Fit?

Since we both had a passion for fashion since early childhood, our main focus and daily routine revolved around online shopping from websites abroad such as Nasty Gal, ASOS, Boohoo, and Pretty Little Thing.

After a while, we both noticed that we constantly ended up paying double for customs when our clothes finally arrived and it was very frustrating for us. One day while discussing this matter, the idea was born.

Our main goal was to have a well-established online shopping website, with trendy designs as well as affordable prices. We felt like Egypt was also lacking in the area of high quality clothes with affordable prices, you either have affordable prices acquainted with low-quality materials, or very high prices with good quality materials.

The concept was born in February 2017 only to be implemented soon after in July 2017.

What is your customer’s profile?

Our collection targets free-spirited girls, who are sassy, young, and fun! Our customers also have an understanding of online shopping. Our customer profile also includes girls who appreciate local brands; at a time where our country needs it the most.

Where do you manufacture your designs and how would you evaluate local manufacturing?

We manufacture our designs in different local workshops. To be honest, local manufacturing has its pros and cons – however, the pros outweigh its cons.

The hardest part of Moda Fit was roaming around Cairo to find the perfect workshops to manufacture our designs, because we wanted ones that were not that expensive; at the end of the day, we still want the prices to be affordable. Furthermore, we also wanted ones that could achieve perfect finish, with no mistakes.

It took a long period of time to find what we were looking for; nonetheless, once we found them, we realized that local manufacturers are more talented than most people think. The workshops in Egypt are underrated in some ways; local workers pay attention to every detail of the design, which naturally leads to a perfect finish at the end.

With that said, we still faced the problem that almost all Egyptian brands face; TIMING! We have to go to the workshops almost every day to make sure the clothes are going to be done on time. Other than that, workshops in our country deserve more recognition.

Your designs and silhouettes highly depend on good materials. Where do you source your fabrics from and how diverse are the options available locally?

Our fabrics are all bought from local Egyptian markets such as Al Azhar, Gesr El Suez, and Wekalet El Balah. We went to all the local Egyptian markets to find the quality that we thought would best fit our designs.

It was a very hectic process; yet, it made us realize that fabrics in our country are also underrated. When we compared the fabrics to some of the clothes we bought from online stores abroad, some Egyptian fabrics were of better quality than those of the clothes we bought from abroad!

The options available are pretty diverse and convenient for our brand, since we do not need neither elaborate nor embroidered fabrics that haute couture designers struggle to source locally. Nonetheless, we often struggle to find good prints. We were aiming to launch with more colourful patterns; however, the severe lack in the local market decided else wise.

Photo Handout to DNE

Your designs and price range put you in direct competition with renowned high street brands. What would you define as an edge above this competition? 

We believe that our online shopping website is a major edge. We refused to launch without a user-friendly website because our designs are not our only core, although they are very important; the website as well as the e-commerce experience is also something we want to be recognized for.

Additionally, our designs give us an edge because they are practical, fun, and are made to fit every occasion. The price range is also important – the majority of our customers’ feedback was that they did not expect the clothes to be of good quality because the prices were affordable.

They could not believe at first that they will receive the clothes exactly how they see them on the website, some even said that the quality looks better in real life.

Where do you aim to take Moda Fit?

We aim for Moda Fit to be recognized internationally as an Egyptian online store on the same line as ASOS and Nasty Gal – we know it might seem far-fetched; but, we always aim to dream big.

However, in the near future, our target is to deliver to the Middle East and be well-recognized in the region. Also, we aim to be a one-stop shop for everything that a girl might need. We plan to surprise our customers in every new collection, with new clothing items as well as designs for every season!

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Finding good restaurants while travelling in London https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/14/finding-good-restaurants-travelling-london/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/14/finding-good-restaurants-travelling-london/#respond Mon, 14 Aug 2017 21:00:03 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=633831 Good food always makes great memories! It is especially true when you are visiting a new city. Exploring the culture of the place through its food is surely a memorable experience. However, locating an ideal restaurant in an unfamiliar place may be a tricky affair. London, for example, is a hub for food lovers, and …

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Good food always makes great memories! It is especially true when you are visiting a new city. Exploring the culture of the place through its food is surely a memorable experience. However, locating an ideal restaurant in an unfamiliar place may be a tricky affair. London, for example, is a hub for food lovers, and the city has a lot to offer. If you are confused about which restaurants to visit, the following tips may help you out.

  1. Plan a culinary walking tour

You can try booking a culinary walking tour if you visit cities like Westminster, and try to fix it at the early part of your trip. It is an ideal option that allows you to sample a variety of dishes before deciding which places you want to revisit.

  1. Read some local publications and blogs

You can do some research while planning a trip to a destination. The Internet is a treasure trove of feedback from local food enthusiasts and bloggers about various restaurants. It is quite easy to save all those addresses to your Google Map to explore once you are down there.

  1. Talk to real people

Getting live recommendations from your hotel concierge and other travellers may be a good idea. Cab drivers are another source of information. Also, post your trip plan on your social networking circles to see if anyone comes up with some handy advice.

 

  1. Search for the regional options

You can find many best restaurants in London near Westminster serving local cuisine. If you want to know about the heart and soul of a place, eat what the locals eat every day. Besides, experimenting with local cuisines is part of the fun of vacations.

  1. Avoid the top tourist attractions in the city

It is not necessary for the restaurants close to the best tourist destinations to have the best food. It is found that restaurants in the neighbourhood of major tourist destination seem to be better as they need to offer something worthy to drag in the crowd.

Some options in Westminster, London

The city is perfect for a gastronomic indulgence, and you have plenty of choices to pick from.

  • Roux Parliament Square

It is a contemporary-style luxury restaurant, where you can find an excellent mix of modern furnishing and period features. Roux Parliament Square building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the same architect who designed the famous Natural History Museum in London.

  • The Goring

A typical 5-star London hotel with luxurious settings. The place is ideal for those who want to enjoy the most traditional and delicious British food. Offering a fun dining experience, The Goring sources only fresh ingredients from across the globe under Chef Cooper. The Goring has an exceptional selection of wild herbs and truffles to complement many of the dishes perfectly.

  • Quilon

The philosophy and ambience of Quilon are simple. The restaurant aims to convey the passion for the south-west coast typical Indian cuisine. With an ongoing quest for perfect techniques and the most appropriate ingredients, the eatery offers a blend of old traditions and modern flavours.

Locating restaurants, checking their reviews and booking tables have become incredibly easy due to customised mobile apps. Make sure to download such an app on your smartphone to never have to stress about finding new places to eat!

Author bio: Mandy Bular is the executive producer of a television channel focusing on food. She used to post reviews and suggestion for the best restaurants in London near Westminster, and she also offers suggestions to the tourists.

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Deena Wagdy: a timeless declaration of strength adorned with pearls https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/13/deena-wagdy-timeless-declaration-strength-adorned-pearls/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/13/deena-wagdy-timeless-declaration-strength-adorned-pearls/#respond Sun, 13 Aug 2017 10:00:11 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=633672 "My jewelry is for women who flaunt strong sense of personal style and do not conform to rules," says designer

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Jewellery is a personal state of the art that everyone in the room can see; but, only the wearer can truly hear. For many years, earrings have whispered their secrets in her ears while rings have grabbed her fingers in solidarity during moments of need.

Personal and loud is how she has always described her daily companions. Through thick and thin, she and her jewellery have always been inseparable. With every day spent in their company, she came to learn their curves and edges. Before she knew it, her fingers started to quiver in need to create rings rather than just wear them.

As she grew, the companions became story tellers that have seen it all happen and were now taking the shape of each story in her life. Deena Wagdy is a jewellery designer that leads a new generation of local artists.

Along with her talent as well as a childhood surrounded with jewellery and craft, Wagdy is a Design-Studio alumni that has polished her talent with knowledge and practice before putting women under her charm with silver and gold masterpieces.

As elaborate and resistant as a phoenix, the local jewellery and fashion industry has risen back to glamour during the past five years. Despite the young age of this come back, entities such as the Design Studio by Azza Fahmy are giving raw talents a solid platform to shine faster and easier than those before them.

Wagdy’s first cohesive collection is a manifestation of her personal relationship with jewellery. The designer aimed to give women tokens of strength and uniqueness.

On command, fresh water pearls take center stage while silver and gold unite. Their commotion inspire power and beauty; just like the woman that chose them in the early morning. They settle on her ear lopes and stand tall in the face of the day looming ahead.

On the other hand, rubies and sapphires flump in minimal chockers before the clique decide to surround vocal cords; allowing the woman in the middle of it all to speak of her thoughts loud and clear.

The collection plays on the sharpness of geometry as well as the romance translated by a rainbow of precious stones. While lines directly draw attention to the sharpness indicated in the wearer’s character, the evident raw craftsmanship creates a window for a spontaneous desire to stand out.

Daily News Egypt sat with Wagdy to talk about a childhood among raw materials and tools, studying at the Design Studio by Azza Fahmy and jewellery business.

What encouraged you to start your own jewelry label?

I have always liked making things; working with my hands since I was a child, I used to make my own picture frames, bracelets, necklaces, and notebooks.

I love jewelry and I have always dreamed to become a jewelry designer at one point of my life. Therefore, it was natural that I enrolled in the Design Studio, where I studied “the basic techniques of jewelry making & design”. I was certified by the Design Studio and Alchimia Contemporary Jewelry Design School in Florence to professionally practice my passion.

After graduation, I took the leap to set up my own jewelry workshop at the basement of my home before I started spending at least an hour and a half working every day.

For me, jewelry is a state of mind that fills me with emotions and inspiration; therefore, it was equally important for me to work on my skills as a maker as well as a designer. Being a designer allows me to pour my ideas into elaborate sketches. On the other hand, being a maker further connects me to the piece from starting with raw materials all the way to the moment it becomes a tangible piece of art.

I wanted to have my own identity; to be able to create jewelry that talks to real women. Jewelry that understands their struggles and victories, touches their lives and most importantly empowers them.

How would you put your label into words?  

Timeless, modern, versatile, with an edge – these are the words that best define my jewelry.

My jewelry is all hand-made; one piece at a time. Each prototype is made by myself in my home studio. My line is characterized by constant opposition; blending Sterling Silver with 18K Gold or plating.

My current design aesthetic depends on combining feminine sophistication with edginess. The designs are modern; yet, versatile; you can mix and match them your way – it all depends on your mood and how you feel.

I do not like to follow trends; my jewelry is for women who flaunt strong sense of personal style and do not conform to rules. My designs are inspired by women, who are willing to experiment and are often courageous in all aspects of their lives.

Individually, each piece is an escapade of self-discovery. Each collection has a story; meanwhile, each ring and earring is an independent chapter in that story. While a ring might convey how a woman feels, another talks about her dreams; together they build an armor that can take her where she aspires.

 

What is your main inspiration? 

My inspiration comes from a broad perspective. With that said, the body is probably my starting point. I love how shapes reflect, outline, and play over the body’s curves and angles. I rarely start with an exact projection of how it will turn out; instead, I begin with how I would like to feel wearing it or how it should reflect on the woman wearing it.

Meanwhile, our rich Egyptian heritage serves as one of my major inspirations as well. I am constantly inspired by architecture, geometric shapes and various forms that my eyes regularly fall on throughout my everyday routine.

How would you evaluate the local jewelry market? 

During the past couple of years, the jewelry market has completely changed. Any observer can notice the accelerating number of new emerging talents that create beautiful pieces. The local jewelry scene has become quite competitive, which is a good thing for sure!

Do you depend on handmade work or machinery? 

All my jewelry is handcrafted. There is Zero machinery in anything I create, which makes my pieces personal and unique. I like to create the first prototype of every piece in my collection in my own studio to make sure that the piece would turn out exactly like I have imagined it, when sketching it. Then, I work with local craftsmen in Cairo to produce the quantities I need.

Can you name few individuals (designers/fashion icons) that inspire your designs & aesthetic as a designer? 

Coco Chanel is my fashion icon; on parallel, Alexis Bittar is no doubt my favorite jewelry designer.

How far did your start at the Design Studio reflect on your personality and aesthetic as a designer? 

Studying at the Design Studio by Azza Fahmy exposed me to different international artists that I closely learned from and in return inspired me in so many ways. My time at there has also empowered me to create pieces that can reflect my very own personal style. I will forever be grateful to my instructor Farah Abdel Hamid and Ulrich Reithofer in helping me learn everything I know today; they have truly supported me all the way.

In your opinion when was the golden age of local jewelry and why?

Personally, I believe that the Pharaonic era was undoubtedly the golden age for jewelry in Egypt. Ancient Egyptians valued personal jewelry, which included statement necklaces, cuff bracelets and amulets; all made from pure Gold and precious stones. The designs were absolute stunners with the most exquisite details.

 

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Summer’s first aquathlon hits the North Coast https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/03/summers-first-aquathlon-hits-north-coast/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/03/summers-first-aquathlon-hits-north-coast/#respond Thu, 03 Aug 2017 14:30:44 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=632990 300 people registered to participate at the swimming and running competition

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A burning sun, light breeze, and parties are all what Sahel (the North Coast) is about. While people hit seaside resorts, relaxing and chilling are all what they look for. However, this season, a new sports activity is joining the schedule for people who hit the number one most visited summer destination for Egyptians.

The annual Aquathlon of swimming and running will take place this weekend in Hacienda Bay. While some people seek relaxation, 300 people are about to participate in the first sports event happening in Sahel this season.

Organised by TriFactory, an Egyptian sports management company specialising in triathlon, the event aims to promote to tourism in North Coast as well as allowing people to have an unusual sort of fun time while practising sports.

 

While chilling at the beach reading and dancing is the most practised lifestyle of Sahel residents, the Aquathlon opens a gate for attendees to enjoy their time in a new experience.

 

The competition is to be performed at Hacienda Bay’s lagoon, and both individuals and groups are allowed to take part in it.

 

Lamia Hassan, TriFactory’s media officer, explained that while some people participate at similar events as athletes who train for international competitions, the majority take place for fun with their families and friends.

Participants are required to swim 750m and run for 5 kilometres. However, those who participate in teams can divide the two parts over them.

“A lot of those who take part of similar events just seek to chill and to practise some sports,” Hassan added.

Ever since the start of the summer season, the company has been organising weekly runs in Sahel.

The two-year old company is specialised in organising triathlons. This includes the annual Sahl Hasheesh Triathlon which is Egypt’s biggest triathlon event with swimming, running, and cycling event.

“We wanted to organise the Sahel event as a triathlon, but it would be harder for attendees to come all the way with their bicycles. Meanwhile, swimming and running only take someone to come fit and prepared to play some sports,” Hassan added.

The company’s events mainly seek attracting tourism, an aim that is achieved by placing annual events in touristic destinations.

“More than 30 different nationalities participated at the Sahl Hasheesh Triahtlon, as well as Aswan 42: a marathon to support and promote the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation,” Hassan asserted.

 

Moreover, TriFactory is heavily involved in promoting triathlon by training athletes of all levels for participation in the sport. In 2016 The company trained and led Egypt’s first-ever full Ironman team to success in Ironman Barcelona, Europe’s biggest triathlon and one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

 

Photos Handout to DNE

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Super Fashion: picture perfect representation of the local industry https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/02/super-fashion-picture-perfect-representation-local-industry/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/02/super-fashion-picture-perfect-representation-local-industry/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 11:00:47 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=632871 She struts in her glamorous pair of high-heeled sandals right through the metal gates, and suddenly, what was only a mere daily destination turns into a flashy runway. As she goes through the poultry fridge, the super market’s tiles reflect the fluidity of sky-blue satin and curvy details of lace. It is only minutes before …

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She struts in her glamorous pair of high-heeled sandals right through the metal gates, and suddenly, what was only a mere daily destination turns into a flashy runway. As she goes through the poultry fridge, the super market’s tiles reflect the fluidity of sky-blue satin and curvy details of lace.

It is only minutes before she sets her own garden of juicy fruits accompanied with sherbet florals planted in a captivating shade of blue. Nonetheless, madness does not evoke until she inflects her appreciation of drama and spice right on the surrounding shelves.

Water flows on the ceramic floor as gracious and fast as the tail of her dreamy dress. Meanwhile, her geometric jewelry lightens up the space with shades of gold strong enough to demand vintage shades.

This might sound close to vivid dreams of a true fashion fanatic. However, thanks to a recent editorial shoot, these couture dreams have become a tangible reality in the heart of the city’s Fresh Food Market.

Photographers Hady Ashraf and Marwan Morsy, as well as Cairo-based makeup artist Haya Bahaa and Diva Line’s stylist Amr, found themselves at the extraordinary venue and surrounded by the country’s most extravagant fashion creations, thanks to Flare PR agency. The home-grown fashion hub brought their top-notch data base to the urban supermarket to create their first, of many, Egyptian multi-brand collaborative shoots.

Each frame features a number of Egypt’s top designers. The list includes couture designer Norine Farah, statement jewelry master Reem Jano, contemporary Rafik Zaki, the ever-so-romantic Vivian Moawad, accessory designer Suki Designs, and mother-of-pearl guru Sadafa. Furthermore, the images also captured the recent designs of Hayden & Co., as well as the latest patterns of Salem Ulta Moda and the coolest rear finds of Vintage Eyewear.

With that said, the shoot’s unexpected model was also another factor of surprise. Anicée Gohar, a TV presenter, producer and director, plays the significant role of a fashion-forward introvert dying to escape the party, but not the beat playing in her head.

The shoot gave Gohar the chance to escape a metaphoric commotion in order to start her own outrageous party at a closed and serene supermarket with only her name on the guest list.

This project mainly aims to highlight the major milestones local designers have managed to achieve during the past five years. Meanwhile, it also plans to put those designers on the global fashion map.

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Wonders of Nature: Azza Fahmy expands her green haven https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/02/wonders-nature-azza-fahmy-expands-green-haven/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/08/02/wonders-nature-azza-fahmy-expands-green-haven/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 10:00:30 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=632874 After a long drive towards the west side of the capital, concrete beasts reside and green landscapes accompanied with humble houses rise to fill the horizon. The long drive might take hours, but at the end of it, an old workshop would always approach to welcome those seeking authenticity and heritage. For a few decades, …

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After a long drive towards the west side of the capital, concrete beasts reside and green landscapes accompanied with humble houses rise to fill the horizon. The long drive might take hours, but at the end of it, an old workshop would always approach to welcome those seeking authenticity and heritage.

For a few decades, the 40-year-old brand has been building a name that stands for art, quality, and technique in the most competitive sphere—the jewelry industry. Right after steeping through the wooden gates, the visitor is welcomed with an army of dedicated eyes and fingers. While few marvel at the preciseness of black and white sketches, others are moving skillfully to master meticulous detail.

The bee hive does not stop for hours. Every row of wooden working stations embraces a number of Egypt’s finest jewelry scientists. Every day, the hive starts operating from the early hours of morning until dusk. Together, they create a chain that produces and maintains one of the country’s most significant jewelry brands: Azza Fahmy.

Photo Handout to DNE

This season, the hive has been following a number of detailed sketches towards a secret garden, where lady birds befriend flowers, whilst owls gracefully flaunt their feathers, not caring about the nearby crawling snakes and their glittering ruby eyes.

After hours of heating, hammering, carving, and polishing, the hive masters their common rhythm to make the garden materialise and bloom right in the heart of their workshop. Much like themselves, their creations champion precious materials, such as gold and silver incorporated with amethyst and ruby.

Daily News Egypt spoke to the brand’s head of design, Amina Ghaly, to discuss her 2017 green haven of precious animals, jewelry trends, and global expansion.

Why did you choose to create another collection based on nature?

Within the jewelry industry, trends do not evolve as fast as they do in the fashion industry. Nature is also still a worldwide trend, which has countless aspects that had not all been tackled in our previous collection. Therefore, we wanted to explore them more in this collection and go deeper by pushing our boundaries.

The snake bangle is one of the oldest traditional jewelry pieces. What did you aim to add to it?

The snake bangle is one of the richest and most important designs for bangles. It descends from Greco-Roman origin and comes in many variations. It was worn by rich women in urban and rural areas of Egypt for a very long time. The bangles included in our latest collection have a modern twist that is fit for the women of today.

Photo Handout to DNE

If a woman is searching for one piece to buy from this collection as a fashion investment that would never go out of style, which one would you recommend and why?

Each piece is unique and speaks differently to each person. My favorite piece is not necessarily someone else’s favorite piece. Accordingly, I cannot recommend only one piece. After all, it is a very personal choice.

In your opinion, what are the top jewelry trends of the upcoming FW2017 season?

Tribal jewelry, gypsy jewelry, and intricate lace-work are a few of the top upcoming season’s trends.

In the age of machinery and technology, why does Azza Fahmy Jewelry still insist on handcrafting each and every piece?

Each hand-crafted piece of jewelry is unique and has a special tale behind it. Inspired by different cultures, each design is an expression of a thought supported by a lot of research. Meanwhile, each piece is an investment of time, which includes a process that comprises the expertise and skills of a minimum of 20 craftsmen and 60 delicate manufacturers, as well as quality operations.

Moreover, it preserves the magic of the craft and its authenticity. Each piece is a story, from our history to you.

What is next for the brand?

Industry wise, we are really focusing our efforts on our design school, The Design Studio by Azza Fahmy, in collaboration with Alchimia. The school offers students, as well as upcoming entrepreneurs, a specialized jewelry design and making programme that allows them to compete not only on a regional level, but also on a global one.

We are also looking to expand our global market, as well as our online retail boutique, which delivers worldwide.

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Fashion on Wheels: Egypt’s first mobile-shopping truck https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/07/27/fashion-wheels-egypts-first-mobile-shopping-truck/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/07/27/fashion-wheels-egypts-first-mobile-shopping-truck/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 11:00:57 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=632445 While sitting in his custom-made truck, he sips his cold smoothie to fight the burning sun before he heads to a baffled modern-day damsel in distress. As the street buzzes outside the windows, Mohamed Antar walks his client through his progressive space. They only have a few minutes to go through the latest fashion collections …

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While sitting in his custom-made truck, he sips his cold smoothie to fight the burning sun before he heads to a baffled modern-day damsel in distress. As the street buzzes outside the windows, Mohamed Antar walks his client through his progressive space.

They only have a few minutes to go through the latest fashion collections to get her ready for the approaching night. Like a contemporary fairy god-mother Antar offers his client the perfect beach-destination attire. From sundresses to over-sized shirts and a rainbow of accessories, Antar has managed to find a local answer to geographic restrictions and fast-paced summer nights.

A few weeks earlier, Antar and his good friend Ahmed Ekhtiary spent a long week juggling ideas in order to find the most feasible method to reach their audience. After founding their prêt-à-porter label, Recesses, the duo were fully aware of the growing market challenge; therefore, they aimed to depend on old-school Godzilla marketing.

Everything started rolling, when I began contemplating innovative methods to market my newly-established brand. At the time, I knew that marketing would include social media communication and blogger-powered product placements. Meanwhile, we were also trying to find a celebrity that can become our official face. However, none of these seemed to be enough.” said Antar.

After studying the market and taking a closer look at what women truly wanted, the two partners were left with the conclusion that the summer season was never set to be static.  While the country’s fashion aficionados migrate to the north coast, garments are often left untouched in the capital.

“I want to follow my audience wherever they might go. Today they are in Cairo, while tomorrow they can head to Sahel, before they decide to spend a long vacation in Gouna. The need to follow our potential clients everywhere around Egypt led us to Fashion on Wheels,” Said Antar.

Their innovative approach to retail involves a branded truck and a selection of Egypt’s finest home-grown brands. Every weekend, the Sahel-bound truck picks a hotter-than-the-sun destination in order to meet yet a new bunch of fashion-hungry clients.

The mobile truck is designed to accommodate a fitting room and urban visual merchandise. “We designed our truck to meet the most efficient and cost-effective standards.” Antar added “We were keen to make it open from all sides to give it maximum space. On the other hand, we also wanted it to be aesthetically appealing to customers while they walk beside it.”

Week after the other, Fashion on Wheels parked in front of high-traffic shopping destinations and star-studded compounds. With a welcoming layout and colourful branding, the truck managed to interrupt many random walks and attract a growing number of clients.

The open and accessible design gives the passer-by an opportunity to peak into the truck and enjoy classic window shopping. The merchandise include ready to wear tops, sun dresses, colourful skirts, statement hats and beach-worthy bags.

The vehicle currently harbours few brands including Jazzy eyewear, Camicie, Opio, HL Bags, Nezaf, Talaya swimwear, and without a doubt, Recesses.

While watching women walking into his truck with wondering eyes and roaming the space to grab their favourite picks, Antar cannot help but remember the close memory of his partner and himself discussing the logistical details behind their project.

According to the founders, the wheels started rolling only few weeks after they had the idea. “It gives me great pleasure to spend my day inside the truck and welcome people, who come to take photos with it. From my place, I can hear people passing around and talking about the truck.” Antar added “Every good comment is a reminder that “Fashion on Wheels”, the first fashion truck in Egypt, was only a personal thought a few weeks earlier, nonetheless, now every single detail has come to reality.”

Due to the seasonal trends, Sahel was an obvious port of call. “We started our journey at Sahel given the fact that it has the highest traffic during this particular season in Egypt. On the other hand, we are planning to bring our project to Cairo by the end of summer; as we have already received inquiries from many Cairenes,” said Antar.

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Jude Benhalim wears the city’s “Urban Vibrance” on her sleeves https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/07/20/jude-benhalim-wears-citys-urban-vibrance-sleeves/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/07/20/jude-benhalim-wears-citys-urban-vibrance-sleeves/#respond Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:00:16 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=631970 “Everyone moves up the scale when they have a magazine as prestigious as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar write about them; it is like getting a good grade on a school project,” says designer

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As summer covers the city, the concrete sidewalks and steel bridges embrace the maroon aura of heat and sunshine. The city buzzes with life all week long as women reach out to their rainbow of summer dresses.

While she might not fit in with the stereotypes, the vibrancy of the season speaks to her and it is only a matter of time before she complies with nature well. Despite her rebel nature and her urgency to escape the metropolis, she trades her favourite hues of grey for colour; ready to spend one more summer in the concrete jungle.

After holding her heroin’s hand until she manages to overcome her inner-weakness and find her voice among the madness, Jude Benhalim decided to continue unfolding her on-going wearable tale through a new summer chapter. Building on the massive success of Urban Rebel, the local jewellery designer chose to embrace the capital’s city lights and metropolitan valour to introduce the Urban Vibrance collection.

While Arabic calligraphy still whispers stories of womanhood and self-acceptance, silver is moulded to imitate the hidden details of contemporary architecture. On the other hand, maps were turned into motifs documented on flamboyant acrylic.

Daily News Egypt spoke with Benhalim to know more about the new collection and talk about the noticeable critic and commercial success of the home-grown brand.

What is the creative emphasis of introducing colour to your heroine’s story at this point? 

The Urban Rebel is still who she is inside. She is someone trying to make it in the city; meanwhile, each part and corner of the busy metropolis is part of her. Introducing colour to the pieces reflects the Urban Rebel’s love and passion for summer without straying from who she is.

What inspired you to keep building on the same collection?

The heroine in the story is who she is and the city is still a very big part of her. However, that does not affect her need to enjoy summer as well as all the bright colours and memories it brings. Every one of us looks for those summer pieces while still maintaining our sense of fashion. That is what happened to the Urban Rebel.

Photo Handout to DNE

How did your recent celebrity placements reflect on your brand?

Celebrity placements definitely got us a lot more recognition amongst local women; furthermore, it paved our way to a new older and more mature audience, which is amazing. Now we have all types of women, a wide spectrum of age and fashion aesthetic, wearing our jewellery in their own unique style; which is extremely rewarding to witness.

Based on personal experience, how vital is international media recognition to local brands? What did it add to your already well-established brand?

International media recognition definitely adds more credibility to your brand. Everyone moves up the scale when they have a magazine as prestigious as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar write about them; it is like getting a good grade on a school project.

It is all very rewarding. We are incredibly grateful and happy that we had the chance to be recognized by such big names in the fashion industry.

After walking away from your signature bullet last season, what is your new best seller?

We still have bullet items that we sell as it is such an intricate part of the brand and still remains a best seller. However, for the Urban Rebel collection: the cracked concrete set has done amazing this season.

Our clients have also added their own fashion print on it as they have managed to wear it in complete different ways and styles; which has further inspired and amazed us.

What is next for Jude Benhalim?

It is all very exciting! There is always a way to make more designs, more content, and dress up more women; it is all a part of an everlasting cycle that keeps me going. We are working on a new collection as well as gaining more and more regional recognition. Meanwhile, we are always working towards positioning Egypt on the international fashion map.

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CICATRIX: turns scars into medals of honour  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/07/13/cicatrix-turns-scars-medals-honour/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/07/13/cicatrix-turns-scars-medals-honour/#respond Thu, 13 Jul 2017 11:00:53 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=631264 Sandbox is all about an escapade of gained knowledge and exploration through jewellery, says designer

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Surrounded by white walls, Suhayla Al Sheikh carefully embraces her statement jewellery with both palms until she assigns every piece a certain corner to decorate. In a matter of few hours, the promising jewellery designer proudly scatters her collection of necklaces, earrings and bracelets around a designated art gallery in Zamalek.

Tonight, Al Sheikh plans to address the society in order to mould celebratory trophies out of pain. Once the awaited audience of fashion aficionados pour into the intimate space, the designer’s smile widens before she launches into feverish explanation of her newest brain child.

The progressive designer dedicated months to dive into the unspoken hardships burn victims are required to come over every day in order to continue living. Every morning hundreds of real-life heroes stare back at the scars looking at them in the mirror and decide to delay giving up one more day.

Al Sheikh along with four brave women took a closer look at what the society stigmatize as repulsive to take in its hidden beauty. Their new perspective was then turned into stories of joy and energy to challenge expectations.

Nonetheless, the true magic occurred when scars that often live in the dark begged Al Sheikh to bring them to light. The designer turned skin’s natural and permanent reaction to excessive heat into artistic silver tokens.

CICATRIX is the designer’s newest collection, which takes its lines and motifs from scars. The unexplained and interlaced lines of few pieces highlight the undiscovered allure of the subject. On the other hand, the uneven surface of other items gives the wearer the chance to lay a soothing hand on a woman’s accolade of survival.

Daily News Egypt sat with Al Sheikh to talk CICATRIX, society’s conventional definition of beauty and intellectually challenging the so-called normal.

What was the main inspiration behind Cicatrix?

The initial inspiration—the starting point—was a stone called the Desert Rose stone. I used to collect these stones from the desert in Saudi Arabia during my childhood years and it holds special memories for me.

To reconnect with the memories and emotions revolving around this stone, I decided to approach it more maturely and I did a wide research around the history, form, material and function of this stone.

I was led into all kinds of realms and eventually specific aspects of the research led to CICATRIX. On the other hand, the second inspirational point was the four powerful women, who suffered from burn injuries.

Throughout history stones were used to either inflict pain on the body—such as when stoning a human as punishment – or were used to release pain from the body—such as Palestinian children throwing stones on Israeli tanks to release energy and express resistance.

I liked this contradiction between the two and decided to use it. In terms of form, the haphazard surface of the desert rose stone looks like scars on a human figure.

Therefore, I decided to take scars and turn them into jewellery as a way of taking pain and turning it into beauty and pride.

Can you please further explain the collection’s name and essence?

The collection’s name CICATRIX, is defined as “the scar of a healed wound”. We are not trying to heal scars with this collection, we are trying to heal the wounds and pain behind the scars.

We are attempting to get women to view their scars in a way that holds pride, confidence and beauty; rather than eradicating the scars to forget the pain.

We are trying to heal their interpretation and perspective of emotional and physical scars.

The essence of the collection revolves around finding strength behind all the scars. CICATRIX is all about being proud of having endured pain and came out stronger, more aware and more powerful.

How did you come across the four ladies behind Cicatrix?

After deciding to turn scars into jewellery as a way of calling for a more positive approach towards physical and emotional scars, the question became; whose scars would I turn into jewellery?

Given that at Sandbox we try as often as possible to have not only a fashion purpose; but, also a humanitarian one. I decided to turn the scars of women who actually experienced pain at high levels.

I decided to do so for two reasons. First of all, I want to help people, who are truly struggling on levels that we are unaware of.

On the other hand, I wanted to address women through my jewellery and encourage them to perceive their struggles and scars in a rather positive approach. Therefore, unfolding real-life hardships within an artistic context was the ideal method to reach my goal and make these women open up to my jewellery.

Given that burn incidents are notably one of the most painful physical experiences, and given that burns leave such distinct and visible scars, I decided to collaborate with Ahl Masr Foundation to turn burns to jewellery.

I contacted a representative from Ahl Masr, pitched the idea, and then explained the collection’s aesthetic and purpose. They suggested a few women from their foundation; according to what I was looking for.

I had a very memorable and valuable one-on-one sit down with each of them to hear their stories and get to know them.

In each of the four stories, which part(s) inspired you the most? 

Their struggles and their endurance towards these extraordinary circumstances were truly inspiring to me. One of the women was set on fire by her own brother; yet, no one would guess due to her optimism and positive approach to life.

The pain of having been through such an experience is still there; but, her approach towards what is yet to come is quite unbelievable.

The evident strength in all four women—in different ways—truly inspired me. We complain in our everyday lives about minimal things such as daily complications at work, the tough weather, or a forgettable problem with a friend; we even let it turn our day upside down.

These women however are enduring much more pain and struggle; nonetheless, they are doing their best to live and to find positivity hidden in the heart of each hardship.

It is something we should truly learn from. With that said, it is worth noting that not all four women necessarily portrayed positivity; however, all four had a sense of hope and keenness to grasp onto moving forward.

It is also worth noting that Ahl Masr plays a vital role with these women in order to improve their psychological state as well; the foundation’s staff does an awesome job at it.

The idea of turning burn wounds into art is far from ordinary according to the local market. How did you artistically tackle such a controversial design aesthetic? 

I believe that the jewellery industry needs more daring concepts and designs. We need to challenge people with jewellery not just in terms of design aesthetic; but, creatively as well.

As I always say that jewellery to me is the most intimate form of art. CICATRIX—and my designs in general—aim to challenge the perception of jewellery and fashion in a way that neither harms nor offends anyone. Accordingly, I am not afraid of delving into controversial realms.

Pushing people expands their horizons of knowledge; on the other hand, it prepares their minds to accept new ideas and approaches.

This is what Sandbox is all about: in a sense—an escapade of gained knowledge and exploration through jewellery. To me, controversy is a necessary element that empowers me to reach my main goal.

What message do you aim to send through this collection to burn victims as well as the society around them?

The message is simply for the burn victims to see the strength in their scars. To see the silver lining. I want these heroes—and survivors of any other form of physical or emotional scarring—to see scars as a source of strength, pride and confidence.

In terms of society, this collection is more of a call for action; to redefine beauty and challenge its conventional meaning. To stop pitying those who have gone through certain struggles and rather celebrate their victory.

How are patients at Ahl Masr foundation going to benefit from this collaboration?

15% of CICATRIX’s sales will go to Ahl Masr to help treat patients and build the first non-profit burn patient hospital in the world, which Ahl Masr is currently working on building.

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Misura: high-heeled dreams on demand https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/07/06/misura-high-heeled-dreams-demand/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/07/06/misura-high-heeled-dreams-demand/#respond Thu, 06 Jul 2017 11:00:35 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=630598 I dream of the day every woman will be able to create her own shoes from scratch with the highest quality and least hustle, says co-founder 

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In the early 17th century Charles Perrault wrote a story about a pair of shoes that transformed the life of fairy-tale princess Cinderella. While many might swoon over prince charming, others wish a fairy godmother would create them their own signature glass slippers.

Ali Aboutera has created the answer to fairy-tale shoe wishes of all kinds. The Egyptian entrepreneur, with the help of his cousin, turns intricate fashion dreams into tailor-made pairs of heels. His brand, Misura, is a concept that started from Aboutera spending late afternoons watching his father manage his renowned leather-goods store.

“I come from a shoe-making background. My family owns a specialised store, where many clients often asked for custom-made shoes for special events and weddings. Given their specialty in ready to wear shoes, they always had to turn those clients away,” said Aboutera.

Those frequent denied requests inspired him to start a new line specialised in turning any shoes-related idea into reality. Misura offers the ultimate personalisation service with customised shoes, as well as a smaller section that offers ready-for-purchase designs.

According to Aboutera, when the idea first popped into his head, his cousin, Omar, was the very first person he considered as a partner due to his extended experience in the same industry. It was not long after conducting extended research on the market, that his childhood dreams turned into tangible plans.

Smiling broadly, the young entrepreneur recalls his initial research findings, while walking through his minimalistic store, lined with avant-garde shoes, in the heart of Heliopolis.

“When we first started our research, many indicators supported our initial assumption that the market lacked a tailored shoe label. Meanwhile, when shoes were available, quality was always a major concern. A large segment of our target audience faced issues such as having to settle for covering ready-made shoes with different fabrics or having to fill other pairs with pads to make them fit,” said Aboutera.

According to market research, many women are excited by the idea of designing their own shoes. Based on the brand’s early months of experience, the team agreed, saying that their customers don’t glance twice at the ready- to- wear designs once they hear about the possibility of creating their own shoe design.

Aboutera observes the traffic walking through the welcoming glass doors, as the customers interact with the team and eye the high heels on display. He inspects each client go through this process and announces with certainty what style each woman wants, that suits their unique identity. Many customers surprise the designer with new requests,

Misura comes from the Italian expression ‘De Facto Si Misura’, which translates to ‘made to measure.’ Day and night, clients divulge their personalities and daily routines to Aboutera, in the quest for a fashion-forward interpretation of their desired footwear. Even though fashion trends glorify unified styles, Misura is an Egyptian window for personal individuality.

Misura provides various levels of personalisation. Some clients ask for a few alterations on pre-existing designs, by choosing different material or adding an accessory, while others ask for more radical requests.

“Some clients prefer working with our designer on completely new designs. In this case, she starts by sitting with Omar, our lead designer, in order to discuss what she has in mind and start sketching. Then they choose together the heel, materials, and accessories before agreeing on a fitting date. This often takes an average of five to 14 working days,” said Aboutera.

As the creative partner, Omar approaches each pair as a piece of progressive art or an elaborate haute couture gown, which requires meticulous attention to materials and quality. As Misura’s lead designer, he personally travels to various destinations every season in order to hand-pick his fabrics and embellishments.

Materials vary depending on seasonal trends and yearly color pallets, Milan is often his favorite city stop for supplies. Since bridal and evening wear are quite essential to Misura’s business, he often focuses on materials that would suit both occasions.

High heels are often associated with classier occasions, however, they are rarely connected to either comfort or practicality. As part of their vision to revolutionize footwear and revive the rapidly vanishing craftsmanship, the tailored brand also seeks to make high heels more attainable.

“Given our specialty in high heels, our shoes often vary between 5 to 12 cms in height, I cannot claim that our designs are comfortable. However, since each shoes is made for a certain woman, it is relatively more comfortable than usual,” said Aboutera.

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but Swarovski crystals are far the most suitable for footwear. Misura, gives its growing client base the chance to bedazzle their designs with captivating crystals. For a unique touch, the designer personally sources stones unique to each customer.

“Swarovski is by far the main brand behind the best crystals in the world. They are quite clear; meanwhile, they have a large selection of color variations, shapes and sizes. With that said, the brand itself is very flexible when it comes to accommodating clients and designers’ needs,” said Aboutera.

Making shoes in Egypt today is a difficult business. A few decades back, Egypt was well-known for being a renowned exporter of high-end footwear. With the help of a long-line of ancestral artisanship and ethical tanneries, the country occupied a renowned position in the industry. Nonetheless, the recent invasion of commercial fashion and machinery has thrown the artisan craft in rapid fire; causing a sudden deterioration of the local industry.

“Unfortunately, nowadays shoes are regularly made with the help of machinery. On the other hand, our shoes are handmade without the interference of any technology. If you depend on machines, you will get 500 pairs of identical designs. Nonetheless, we aim for a very limited number of pairs from each sketch,” said Aboutera.

The science of creating high-quality shoes and innovative design requires a qualified shoemaker. Unfortunately, skilled artisans are rarer than precious stones, the majority depends on Chinese imports. In an attempt to keep the industry from falling further, Misura is focused on recruiting promising craftsmen and working on enhancing their quality while accelerating speed.

The brand’s earliest voguish experiment was a design covered with Temraza’s spectacular pearls and dashed with L’Oréal’s rainbow of makeup. Misura joined creative forces with local designer, Farida Temraz, to create a couture-worthy line.

“Farida is a renowned and talented designer. Meanwhile, she saw our designs at a very early stage because we both share the same investor; 138 Pyramids. Accordingly, she became familiar with our brand long before anyone else. She was deeply excited since the early beginning to collaborate and create her own line under Misura,” said Aboutera.

The brand recently celebrated its SS17 season by showcasing 10 pairs strutting down the runway alongside Temraza’s white dreams and Femme Fatal extravagance. The two home-grown brands aimed to start a feminist-driven revolution and create the ideal look for women that seize the day and stand for their own goals.

“We certainly hope to collaborate with Temraza once again during the upcoming season. Meanwhile, we are also interested to collaborate with few other local names; including Yasmine Yeya.” Aboutera added “Maison Yeya is an interesting design house specialised in elaborate couture bridal gowns.”

While his clients discuss their new shoe haven, the founders are inspecting the possibility of expanding around the country in order to become more accessible to a larger segment of potential customers.

“Personally, I dream of the day every woman will be able to create her own shoes from scratch with the highest quality and least hustle,” concluded Aboutera.

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Faissal El-Malak reincarnates Middle Eastern craftsmanship  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/22/faissal-el-malak-reincarnates-middle-eastern-craftsmanship/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/22/faissal-el-malak-reincarnates-middle-eastern-craftsmanship/#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 11:00:48 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=629921 I am very passionate about our Arab heritage as a whole and all the crafts that are unfortunately dying today, says El-Malak

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Sitting in an isolated workshop hidden in the heart of Akhmim, a man directs his attention to the hands moving relentlessly in front of his eyes. Every night, he dedicates his days to absorbing a legacy that many generations have translated into patterns and weaves.

Faissal El-Malak is a Palestinian designer on a journey to follow his passion through the unbeaten tracks, in order to revive the region’s oldest crafts. Like an ardent lover, one day he can wander all the way to Yemen to get his hands on traditional fabrics. Meanwhile, a few months later, his feet can march in the other direction towards Upper Egypt’s most-traditional weaving.

While ancestral motifs and textures are at the heart of his label, El-Malak still manages to keep avant-garde experimenting a cornerstone of his aesthetic. The Middle Eastern designer is not only aiming to lend a helping hand to the region’s forgotten crafts, but he is also quite determined to push conservative gender roles.

For his latest collection, Morphology, El-Malak borrows folkloric feminine embroidery and vibrant colour pallets to dress his male models. On the other hand, he tailours masculinity to suit his female heroines.

This unorthodox fashion leap depends on duality and gender fluidity. Each garment is designed to equally appeal to both genders. The collection brings polar opposites face to face and mixes time-honoured materials with unprecedented silhouettes to shatter stereotypes obscuring the road to visionary wardrobe.

Photo Handout to DNE

The Dubai-based designer was recognised by various specialised foreign enterprises, including the “Vogue Italia Fashion Dubai Experience 2015” as he was named one of the finalists for the “Who Is On Next Dubai” competition.

Daily News Egypt talked with the patron of Arab craftsmanship to discuss Morphology, his infatuation with Akhmim’s hand-woven fabrics, and dominating international trend charts with Middle Eastern artistry.

How does your Palestinian nationality reflect in your aesthetic as a designer?

My identity is closely linked to my work as a designer. I always start with a lot of research, in particular on the traditional motifs and clothing of the region. It is through this research that I source most of my inspiration.

My aesthetic is very much influenced by my infatuation with my identity as an Arab—whether through contemporary art, music, tarab, or dance.

How can fashion be a useful tool to raise awareness regarding Palestinian and Arab heritage internationally?

I am very passionate about our Arab heritage as a whole and all the crafts that are unfortunately dying today. It is through research as well as finding and working with artisans that I myself discover new crafts, which I am amazed by and I am always eager to use them out of their traditional context and in turn share them with my clients.

I do things out of pure passion for the craft and not with the intention of raising awareness. I think that this approach is something that clients can relate to more easily because, ultimately, they are after a unique and beautiful product.

What was the main inspiration behind Morphology? 

When I first started using the fabric from Yemen, the general Yemeni feedback was “look as these women wearing our traditional men’s fabric.” The fabric I use from there is exclusively made for men; it is part of their daily attire.

They wrap it around their waist and pair it with a shirt and jacket. This made me think about gender and how something that I perceived as genderless, if not leaning towards femininity for its use of colour and motif, would strongly be associated with masculinity where it originated.

I wanted to explore that idea, push it further, and see how it could translate to shapes and use of colour in this collection. For example, taking the idea of the fabric being traditionally wrapped and applying it on trousers, dresses, and skirts both for men and women.

Photo Handout to DNE

How would you describe your first experiment with menswear?

I decided to work on a collection that incorporates men’s and women’s wear for the first time this season. It is through that first exercise that I wanted to explore the idea of making masculine and feminine clothes that would work for both genders, such as the full-red look for men and the strong-shouldered men’s coat for women.

No gender means both genders. It means that things do not need to be exclusive. In fact, it could be the other way around.

I would like to dress men and women that have a strong sense of self and that are bold. They are interested in telling a story through their life, particularly their clothes. Furthermore, geography does not limit them as they are constantly on the go.

This constant stream of influence and diverse information that they receive make their eyes receptive and in demand of that kind of product.

Tell us more about the artisanal craftsmanship incorporated in Morphology?

This collection is one step closer to achieving my vision of a Middle Eastern luxury-fashion line sourcing from different countries around the region. This season took me from handwoven fabrics in Yemen to one of the last hand-weaving workshops in Egypt that specialises in cotton jacquards, cordonnés, and hand embroidery.

How did you find out about each one, and how did you manage to source them?

I find things by being very curious, continuously travelling, and not being afraid to ask everyone and anyone about where to find things. Sourcing is sometimes quite challenging because a lot of these artisans only have very basic forms of communication and accessibility; however, it all becomes worthy when I see the finished product.

Why did you choose the hand-woven fabrics of Akhmim?

There was something very contemporary yet nostalgic about their motifs and colour combinations. The owner of the factory was a kind man. I used to enjoy paying him visits and learning about the craft that has been passed on within his family from one generation to another.

The fabrics tell a beautiful story; meanwhile, they are optimum for making structured tailoured pieces.

If you can name a certain craft from each Arab country that you aim to incorporate in your designs, what would you choose?

Even long before I started, I have wanted to use Palestinian embroidery in my designs. I have met with several associations in Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon working with Palestinian women, and I have been waiting until the right moment comes along to integrate it with my work.

I believe that this step will take a lot of effort and time in order to be implemented correctly, and I want to do it justice. With that in mind, I have recently developed some contemporary motifs in collaboration with a Beirut-based design studio and cannot wait to start using them in the coming collection.

How can those crafts become more known and receive international fashion recognition?

It is about creating a beautiful product with an interesting story that people will want to buy and most importantly want to return for more. There is a lot of work beyond the craft. I am lucky to have studied fashion design in Paris, interned there for a few fashion houses, and worked as a stylist for a short period of time.

This taught me the importance of visual language as well as attention to details that has to be put into each garment and the way it is presented. I also loved the storytelling aspect of working as a stylist, which is something I use a lot in my work.

What can you tell us about your upcoming collection and near-future plans?

I am very excited to be part of a pop-up this summer in London with other UAE-based designers. The pop-up is organised by the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council of Sharjah and will take place at Fenwick’s of Bond Street from the 10 July until 10 September.

It will be my first time selling my designs in the UK. I am certainly looking forward to this experience and cannot wait to test the response of that market.

As for the collection I wish to continue exploring the region as well as keep finding new artisans and crafts I can work with to grow the collection step by step.

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Salma AlSaady encapsulates “Shades of Morocco” with leather masterpieces https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/14/salma-alsaady-encapsulates-shades-morocco-leather-masterpieces/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/14/salma-alsaady-encapsulates-shades-morocco-leather-masterpieces/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 13:30:14 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=629099 She moves masterfully in her isolated workshop, where art transforms into lines engraved in leather and dipped in colors. While the music swirls out of her favorite speakers, her loose dress twirls following her passionate movement. Her working space is full of cluttered equipment, leather samples, colors and most importantly pictures of a charming country …

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She moves masterfully in her isolated workshop, where art transforms into lines engraved in leather and dipped in colors. While the music swirls out of her favorite speakers, her loose dress twirls following her passionate movement.

Her working space is full of cluttered equipment, leather samples, colors and most importantly pictures of a charming country beyond the boarder. Each frame captures the exotic architecture of Morocco’s hidden gems. While the blue dye speaks of Chefchaouen’s iconic walls, vibrant patterns narrate the stories of a souq in Marrakesh.

Salma AlSaady is an assistant lecturer that leaves the world of theatre criticism behind to allow her own stories to unfold on handmade leather goods. Her artistic designs vary between bags, shoes and silver jewelry.

According to the designer, her accessories are personal pieces of art that target specific individuals. “When I started developing this collection, I wanted to create something ‘unique’; each bag is different.” AlSaady added “Every design is only available in one piece because I want my customers to feel different. My main goal is to turn my designs into pieces of art.”

Photo Handout to DNE

For her very first cohesive collection, AlSaady decided to meet her target audience with a number of collector’s pieces inspired by Morocco. Each bag showcases an evident glimpse of the country’s architecture, jungle of colors and vibe of authenticity.

“I have always been mesmerized by Morocco. Its fascinating colors, patterns and structures have encouraged me to read books about its architecture,” AlSaady said while tracing the imprinted lines chronicling the country’s secrets on her bag.

The collection includes a carved backpack, which carries the hooks and loops seen on the doors scattered around Casablanca. A clutch holds in its small size the vigorous colors of Fez. “The coastal county has always been a source of inspiration to many artists. Matisse for example has many paintings inspired by his time in Morocco.” The designer added “for me it is not just about the colours and patterns; there is something spiritual about Morocco. Each city is different; yet, there is conspicuous harmony that links them all.”

Shades of Morocco offers a wide array of bags as well as a vintage-inspired pair of flats. The brown classics are a casual choice for those looking for a balance between artistic statement and practicality. Even though the country’s signature walls, markets and houses are present in each and every stitch, curve and pattern; the designer did not want to copy Morocco’s obvious landscape; instead, she embraced the details before expressing her personal narrative.

Alongside her original connotation of artistic concepts, AlSaady’s selection of premium materials is another factor that makes each bag a true carryable companion. The designer uses ethical genuine leather. In this collection, Morocco was brought to the heart of Cairo through vegetable-tanned leather, carving and filigree. “I love using genuine leather because while I am trying to create something that would last, it is a suitable and timeless material,” said the designer while proudly showcasing her hand-picked collection of leather.

AlSaady’s brand is an ethical brand that depends on local materials shaped by the designer herself; as she personally works on each and every item at her workshop in Heliopolis.

Her designs can often take a few hours, a week or much more depending on the details invested in each design. AlSaady remains keen on experimenting with new techniques; nonetheless, finding the fitting tools to master those intricate features is not normally an easy task. “In Egypt, it is not easy to implement unfamiliar techniques; it requires extra effort since we do not have the necessary tools for nontraditional craftsmanship and colours,” said the designer.

With a masters in theatre criticism and a deep interest in fine arts and architecture, AlSaady started designing her own silver jewelry in 2009. According to the designer, during her early years marketing was not a factor she considered, her main aim was to stray away from other designers and create designs that would stand out amid the competition. “When I first started making bags, I made bags that people would buy.”

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Camicie: a local ethical source for everyday fashion https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/14/camicie-local-ethical-source-everyday-fashion/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/14/camicie-local-ethical-source-everyday-fashion/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 12:24:35 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=629095 We focus on designs and fabrics that are practical, easy to wear and can be equally dressed up or down for various occasions and according to every woman's taste: says designer

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A white shirt is a wardrobe fixture that can withstand trends, seasons and fashion movements. Renowned designers such as Karen Millen skyrocketed their careers by mastering the art of crisp shirts, but all brands still strive to add their own twists to the classic garment piece.

Puffed sleeves, collar details, wrapped silhouettes and many other variations have come and go to decorate the timeless staple. Nonetheless, the secret to a perfect shirt is lays in quality  and the fabric. These two specific attributes are the core of Camicie; a local fashion brand that has taken the concept of a shirt to a fashion-forward level. The brand’s name reflects their main specialty, the Arabic word for “my shirt.” The fresh concept was brought to life through the innovation of three sisters; Maha, Kinda, and Nada El-Azm.

The earthly color palette, light fabrics and figure-complementing cuts has made this particular brand the number one option for many more conservative Middle-Eastern women.

The Camicie brand also strives to offer ethical fashion; despite, the concept’s novelty in Egypt and the Middle East. Each piece is made of local fabrics, which the designers themselves source, then are tailored in a local workshop.

Daily News Egypt sat with designer Maha to discuss Camicie’s laid-back chic, ethical fashion, local materials and future plans.

What encouraged you to establish a fashion brand right after the revolution?

The Idea behind our brand had been brewing long before the revolution; however, it was further developed and encouraged by the general sense of patriotism as well as the desire to prove that the Egyptian fashion industry can be revived.

We always had a nostalgia for the era when Cairo was among the leading fashion and garment-manufacturing cities in the world.

Despite all production obstacles, we believe that with enough determination and perseverance we can manufacture high quality, simple and elegant pieces that are proudly made in Egypt.

Photo Handout to DNE

Tell us more about your fabrics. Do you depend on local or imported materials?

Our fabrics are mainly soft, easy to wear and of high quality. For our SS 2017 we used cotton, poplin, linen, gabardine and viscose woven fabrics that are suitable for the summer heat. We strive to source only the highest quality of the local fabrics for the majority of our pieces. Meanwhile, we source from local fabric importers, when we do not find suitable local options.

How much has the local market developed since your inception in 2012?

We believe that the local market had significantly grown to accommodate an increasing number of local designers. Additionally, customers have developed a taste and preference to proudly wear local designer pieces. This has also been further promoted by the recent economic conditions, which affected imported RTW garments and accessories; resulting in a dramatic increase of prices. It is safe to say that the Egyptian fashion scene is currently very promising and rapidly growing.

How would you define your label?

Our label is defined by its minimalist classic vibe mixed with an evident feminine touch. We focus on designs and fabrics that are practical, easy to wear and can be equally dressed up or down for various occasions and according to every woman’s taste. Our garments are also convenient for a wide age range; all the way from early 20s until mid 50s.

Would you consider your label ethical? 

Yes we do. The materials we use are environmentally friendly. We ensure that all personnel working on our garments are fairly treated and compensated.

We are very keen on maintaining the satisfaction of our customers and all the stakeholders associated with our company through listening to their needs and learning to accordingly improve our products and services.

What are the main factors that set your brand from any fast fashion brand?

We believe that the main factors that set Camicie apart from other brands are the following: first the style as we provide an elegant and simple; yet, a different style that is very trendy and practical at the same time. Secondly, the quality. We strive to provide the best possible quality in terms of finishing and materials. With that said, we remain committed to set our price range within a very reasonable and affordable bracket. Last but not least, we value the importance of impeccable customer service. We do our best to be very responsive to our customer queries and comments. Furthermore, we like to pamper them with fancy packaging and post-sale services whenever needed.

What is the main inspiration behind the new collection?

Our inspiration for this collection is every Middle-Eastern woman; who is strong, confident and who is not afraid to explore her girly romantic side. The collection demonstrates
diversity, versatility and practicality along with a touch of romantic femininity showcased through toned-down colors, ruffles and bows.

Which is your favorite piece out of this collection?

Our favorite piece would probably be one of our best sellers; which is the belted, crushed-sleeves linen jacket. The linen material is very fine and elegant; meanwhile, the fit seems to flatter almost every lady that has tried it.

What are your near-future plans?

We are in the process of developing our own website, which will include online shopping. We are also working on the fall/winter collection while exploring further brand-recognition options with the support of our PR agent: Flare PR.

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Slow Factory heals the world with fashion https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/08/slow-factory-heals-world-fashion/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/08/slow-factory-heals-world-fashion/#respond Thu, 08 Jun 2017 11:00:01 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=628302 The media portray the refugees in a pejorative way, and with our campaign we wanted to show another side of the story, says the designer

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One day after watching the latest news from around the world, Celine Semaan tweeted in 140 characters what is today known as an international fashion must have. The Lebanese designer wished to wrap the world with wearable art to remind humanity of the universe’s unity.

Semaan left NASA to bring the diversity of the universe right into the wardrobe of women around the world. Slow Factory is her fashion brainchild that aims to connect conflicting nations and shed light on major humanitarian crises.

Growing up as a Lebanese refugee in Canada gave the fashion entrepreneur honest insight on the tormenting results of political conflicts. Therefore, her fashion label aims to address the international catastrophe through the universal language of fashion.

Semaan’s keys of dignity have attracted global attention towards the Canada-based fashion label. The contemporary accessory originates from an old Middle Eastern tradition that was born in the heart of occupation.

For years, displaced Lebanese and Palestinian women have worn the keys of their original households around their necks in anticipation of the day they finally return. The trending necklace, Dignity Key, is a silver replica of Semaan’s household key.

The necklace does not only aim to raise awareness of the increasing number of refugees, but is the core of an ongoing charity project that aims to provide job opportunities to many in need.

Photo handout to DNE

Daily News Egypt talked with the entrepreneurial fashion designer to learn more about her inspiration, how she managed to spread awareness regarding her authentic concept, and the impact Slow Factory has managed to create.

What encouraged you to establish your brand?

I always thought fashion has purpose and a meaning. Whether you wear a scarf, a hoodie, baggy pants, a leather jacket, or a beret; all these have meaning and express something beyond just your personality.

Slow Factory was designed out of a necessity to explore the connection between fashion and activism.

When NASA joined Creative Commons, where I was working as Community Lead, a spark occurred in my head and I tweeted: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could wrap people in a silk print of the universe and the world so they stop killing each other?”

I got such an encouraging response, that I took it on as a challenge to make it happen.

How did you come up with the main concept behind the dignity key?

My family and I fled Beirut on a refugee status when I was a child; when we returned in the 90’s after a temporary ceasefire, I began exploring my country from the perspective of an expat teenager.

I saw grandmothers wearing an old key as a necklace, and I asked my mother what it is about? She explained that it was a Palestinian tradition to wear the key of the home that you have left behind as a symbol of hope.

This idea inspired me to mold the key of my home in Beirut and to turn it into a symbol that raises awareness and funds in support of the refugee crisis.

What was the main message that you aimed to send through the dignity keys?

A message of hope, dignity, and respect. A symbol that ties us all together and connects us in solidarity.

Photo Handout to DNE

How did you manage to deliver such a foreign concept to the western markets?

It was not an easy job, to be honest; it took a lot of work to get the western market to care.

Since the refugee crisis has been declared by the UNHCR as the biggest humanitarian crisis since WWII, the media had to pay attention to it.

It took me a lot of perseverance and courage to carry this message through.

Tell us more about your collaboration with ANERA. So far, how many children have benefited from this collaboration?

ANERA is a small but agile team of amazing people who work tirelessly in order to make a positive impact in the world.

So far we have had the chance to meet dozens of young adults, who have benefited from the programme we help fund. They have created careers and jobs to support their families after receiving the vocational trainings.

5,345 Syrians and Palestinians have enrolled in this programme in Lebanon alone.

How far did the increasing fear of refugees impact your brand?

We created the REFUGEE sweatshirt—despite the raging hatred—in order to inspire empathy and to attempt to put a different kind of image on the refugee crisis.

The media portray the refugees in a pejorative way, and with our campaign we wanted to show another side of the story—something the world needs to see.

How many artisans do you currently employ? What are your main criteria when recruiting them?

We work in collaboration and partnerships with local artisans. So far we have worked with family-owned factories in Beirut and Italy.

Our criteria are sustainable, fair-trade, green manufacturing, and overall eco-friendly practices. We also require certifications.

Furthermore, we visit the factories and establish a relationship of trust with our partners.

How much did your upbringing as a refugee impact your career and aesthetic as a designer?

My entire childhood I tried so hard to fit in my predominantly white school and neighborhood.

I lived with a lot of confusion and shame about my Arab identity and upbringing. As I grew older, I began to find my path; empowerment and healing came into play in various forms.

One of them being in design and creativity. Feeling empowered is what inspires me now to help others gain their dignity back.

What is the main element refugees currently need? How can the common public help?

There are many things refugees need on a basic human-rights level: basic needs, such as access to water, food, hygiene etc.

There are many organizations helping. Nonetheless, what I think the public can do is treat them with respect and dignity as people who have escaped suffering from atrocious conditions.

The public has the responsibility to talk about this issue, get informed, and inform others in hope of inspiring people to have more empathy—rather than criticism—toward this cause.

What are the main cities that you aim to add to “Cities by Night”? Why?

We have an addition to the “Cities by Night” collection, a view from space of the seven banned countries by the current administration of the United States of America. The scarf shows Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Iran, and Iraq at night with the word “BANNED” crossed out. The scarf is raising funds to support the “no ban” legal battle by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

How can common people, designers or not, use fashion in the face of current islamophobia and hatred against refugees? How can fashion be turned into an weapon of activism?

Activism is about educating yourself about an issue and then giving yourself tools to help this issue.

It can start with inclusion—including other people outside your race, giving them a voice, or collaborating with people who live outside your comfort zone.

Fashion is a tool—not a weapon—to inspire social and environmental change.

After scarves and jewelry, what other garments and/or pieces of accessories do you aim to experiment with in the near future, why?

We are working on an apparel collection made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles turned into thread. The final denim is revolutionary and gorgeous. Meanwhile, we also plan to expand into footwear by 2018.

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Okhtein opens an oasis of carryable art  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/01/okhtein-opens-oasis-carryable-art/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/01/okhtein-opens-oasis-carryable-art/#respond Thu, 01 Jun 2017 11:00:27 +0000 http://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=627538 While one of them welcomes the guests with her natural warm smile, the other one roams the store, frantically adjusting the bags and supervising the team behind the counter: the two Abdelraouf sisters welcomed their Cairo-based clients at their first flagship store. Mounaz and Aya are the region’s favourite sister couple to take the fashion …

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While one of them welcomes the guests with her natural warm smile, the other one roams the store, frantically adjusting the bags and supervising the team behind the counter: the two Abdelraouf sisters welcomed their Cairo-based clients at their first flagship store.

Mounaz and Aya are the region’s favourite sister couple to take the fashion industry by storm. After winning the Vogue fashion prize and becoming Gigi Hadid’s favourite everyday brand, the sisters came back to the heart of Zamalek to celebrate their biggest milestone to date.

“We wanted people to start interacting with our bags while purchasing them. We have realised that, yes, people trust our overall service; but they would still rather look at the bag, touch it, feel its texture, and try it on. Accordingly, it only made sense with what we are trying to establish as a very big brand name that we have our own flagship store; this is where the idea came from,” said Mounaz.

After years of following the brand’s updates and new releases through social media and international media platforms, the brand’s loyal fans were greeted by the sisters as they walked each and every client through the details of their store as well as the story behind the award-winning collection.

“We have always known that we wanted to have our own store. We had an image in our heads almost four years ago. Nonetheless, physically speaking, we started working on it eight months ago—and, finally, this came to life,” said Mounaz.

According to the sisters, the store is an exact replica of the vision they have always had in mind years ago. The store’s interior is a representation of the brand’s aesthetic and timeless designs.

“Basically, our logo is black and white; meanwhile, we always tend to add shades of pink or nude in our bags. Accordingly, our brand and store is black and white with a bit of a feminine colour. We used very expensive materials, such as marble and brass, as these reflect the high-end nature of our bags. Then we focused on the details, including the pink cactus, the door, and display. In other words, while walking around, you basically feel like a part of the Okhtein world,” said Mounaz.

As for the location, Okhtein has chosen to start what is anticipated to become an international web of branches from Degla centre in Zamalek. The low-key shopping destination is already the home of few local gems, such as Amina K and Vertan.

“I think that Degla is a very cute centre. We are surrounded by other emerging designers, which is great. It just felt like the right decision to take,” said Mounaz.

As for their current plans, the sisters aim to continue spreading their carryable magic to every corner of the world. After adding many renowned global names to their database of clients and taking centre focus in many world-class publications, the sisters also aim to have a chain of flagship stores to include every big fashion capital.

“The next store is set to be outside Egypt as we are only focused on having one flagship store in Egypt and do not need more. However, we might relocate when the brand gets bigger; but, for now, our four-year plan is to keep this store as it is,” said Mounaz.

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L’Azur: Aiisha’s ocean and Amin’s blooming flowers  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/01/lazur-aiishas-ocean-amins-blooming-flowers/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/01/lazur-aiishas-ocean-amins-blooming-flowers/#respond Thu, 01 Jun 2017 10:00:58 +0000 http://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=627536 The collection embodies clean lines for morning cocktail events and expands to more intricate hand-made evening gowns, some of which consist of 42,000 crystals and countless hours of hand embroidery, says Amin

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Nature is a rich source of inspiration that keeps on giving new details and concepts every season. While flowers are a stable concept for the spring season, they have only been given justice by a very limited number of designers.

Sami Amin is a local accessory designer with a wide base of loyal fans. Over the span of a long and well-established career, the designer has captured the country’s most renowned monuments and natural gems through his artistic creations.

On the other hand, Aiisha Ramadan is a woman of effortless statements that target confident women. The Lebanese designer is well-known for her smart silhouettes and modern style.

Earlier this week, the two powerhouses joined forces to introduce a must-have collection for any fashion fanatic. While the monochromic garments resembled the unstoppable waves of the ocean, the accessories embodied the beauty of blooming nature.

L’Azur collection by Aiisha Ramadan marks the designer’s 2018 masterpieces. The pan-Arab designer approached Amin a few months ago for a collaboration worthy of the Arab Fashion Week runway.

The brass and leather bags simulated growing gardens that blossom on the hands of the carrier; meanwhile, it also embraced the ocean’s most precious gems, pearls, and crystals.

Daily News Egypt sat with Sami Amin to talk collaborations, experimenting with new materials, and targeting a pan-Arab audience.

What was the main inspiration behind these designs?

The inspiration came from Aiisha Ramadan’s theme for her new collection, L’Azur.

Ramadan believes in the positive and magical power of the sea, whereby every design became the outcome of a journey under the sea among mysterious creatures with a majestic beauty.

Inspired by the deep treasures of the sea, a variety of colours danced together primarily in shades of blues and reds. Nonetheless, these colours did not drift far away from Aiisha’s favoured shades of white and black.

The collection embodies clean lines for morning cocktail events and expands to more intricate hand-made evening gowns, some of which consisted of 42,000 crystals and countless hours of hand embroidery.

Do you have a certain favourite piece?

They are all amazing, each in its own way. The collaboration for us was very unique and the fact that Sami used crystals and pearls was challenging at the beginning; but, this was Aiisha’s direction, and we fell in love with the outcome.

However, I believe that if we have to choose a piece, it will be the big flowers bag and the bracelet; they are very artistic.

How would you define the woman that would opt for these unique bags?

A woman that wants to stand out and be the centre of attention; someone who appreciates art and would be happy to wear a piece of art to complement her beauty.

What encouraged you to work with Aiisha Ramadan in particular?

Aiisha is one of our most admired clients. After buying several pieces from the Alexandria collection, she approached us for a collaboration.

She loved the brand, the spirit, the handmade work and the designs; accordingly, she was confident that we could do something together.

At the beginning, we were hesitant because the direction was different from our work. Meanwhile, it was also our first time to incorporate crystals and pearls. Nonetheless, we loved the outcome and loved dealing with Aiisha.

On the other hand, we are absolutely happy to introduce Sami Amin to the Arab fashion week through her brand and through the “Aiisha by Sami Amin” collaboration.

Why did you decide to showcase this collaboration at the Arab fashion week?

It is one of the biggest five fashion weeks in the world, and Aiisha participates in it every season; accordingly, we trusted her choice.

The Arab Fashion Week in Dubai is the only platform in the Middle East that showcases resort and pre-fall collections, the two most important seasons.

What did this collaboration add to Sami Amin as a brand?

We are still in the middle of the collaboration; therefore, we will have to wait and watch. However, we will definitely work with crystals and pearls again in our new collections.

Meanwhile, implementing something that fits both aesthetics was a challenging and beneficial creative exercise.

After a successful collaboration, should we expect more in the near future?

Yes for sure! Usually the first collaboration is the hardest and most challenging—but now, after a successful trial, we will be keener to collaborate with more entities.

Tell us more about the creative and manufacturing process of this collaboration? 

The main idea of the bag was inspired by Sami Amin’s Quran bag, which was first introduced as part of the classic collection.

She liked it and suggested designing a similar concept, but more like a cage with elements from the Alexandria collection. After he designed it, she loved it and decided that the two brands should work together on a line of bags that has the same aesthetic but with more premium and sophisticated details, hence the crystals and pearls.

The general dynamic during this collaboration was an equal creative relation between Aiisha and Sami as both added their personal inputs until this outcome came to life.

This collection is set to be sold in Egypt and Dubai. Did this new market impact the designs?

I am not sure if the designs were in fact affected by the markets. I believe it was more of an artistic experience that was meant to capture the interest of whoever sees it anywhere.

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“Bambah” and “Ballerinas of Cairo” bring retro magic to the streets of Cairo  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/25/bambah-ballerinas-cairo-bring-retro-magic-streets-cairo/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/25/bambah-ballerinas-cairo-bring-retro-magic-streets-cairo/#respond Thu, 25 May 2017 11:00:58 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=626756 "Bambah’s pieces are also very energetic and tend to move very well, so we thought no one could do them justice like a beautiful ballerina roaming around the streets of Cairo," says designer

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Cairo is full of elaborate destinations that document the various eras this country has gone through. With historical events preserved at every corner and renowned buildings and streets that have witnessed the country’s most impactful moments in time.

While inspired by the golden age of fashion and couture, Bambah is a modern brand that caters to nostalgic women, who would always favour a classic silhouette over a time-restrained trend.

The Dubai-based brand has come back for yet another charming shoot in the heart of Cairo in celebration of the new season. In collaboration with the country’s most graceful representatives, Bambah took timeless fashion to the streets of Cairo.

The fashion brand reached out to the enchanting Ballerinas of Cairo to dance the summer away in buffed dresses and floral prints. The professional dancers were dressed by the brand and captured performing for a one of a kind campaign.

The graceful moves were a perfect match to the classic silhouettes. While Ballerinas of Cairo is a celebrated movement in support of spreading art and beauty in the streets, Bambah is an advocate for bringing back the magic of Cinema’s golden era.

In a matter of a few hours, the campaign managed to attract outstanding attention. It is safe to say that the images were a respectable representation of the two parties, as well as the country itself. The images capture the ballerinas floating gracefully while the dresses obeyingly follow their gestures.

Daily News Egypt talked with Maha Abdul Rasheed, founder of Bambah, to learn more about the campaign, the selected dresses, and the massive feedback she has received after such artistic collaboration.

Photo Handout to DNE

What encouraged you to work with Ballerinas of Cairo?

As an Egyptian, I was so impressed and mesmerised with Ballerinas of Cairo’s work and how they bring out the beauty of our country. I immediately imagined how gorgeous it would be to showcase Bambah’s gowns and iconic pieces, which move effortlessly, on such a lovely backdrop.

I loved the mix of the elaborate and antique buildings with our modern day twist and the ’50s silhouettes.

Bambah’s pieces are also very energetic and tend to move very well, so we thought no one could do them justice like a beautiful ballerina roaming around the streets of Cairo!

What area did you choose to shoot at? 

We wanted to shoot in some of Cairo’s most iconic landmarks, including Moez Street, Qasr el Nile Bridge, Korba, and Downtown. They are incredibly rich with culture and history. In my opinion, they are the best reflection and representative of Cairo’s beauty.

What did you plan to communicate through this particular campaign?

I would love for the world to see how beautiful my country is and to celebrate its incredible talent and creative drive.

You get inspired and recharged with so much energy just by simply walking down the streets and exploring their charm—this is something that I really wanted to highlight through this project.

How would you evaluate the feedback so far?

The feedback has been incredible! It is so lovely and heartwarming to see it being very well received.

Egyptians and non-Egyptians alike have expressed their love for the campaign and have flooded us with the best of comments. We feel so honoured to have contributed to something that has spread so much love and awareness for our country, Egypt.

The video got around 1 million views only on Facebook.

Photo Handout to DNE

Why did you choose to shoot another campaign in Egypt despite being based in Dubai?

As a Dubai-based Egyptian, I always jump on any opportunity to get involved with Egypt and its incredible talent. Even though I have never really lived in Egypt, I have always been drawn to its authenticity and buzzing atmosphere.

I love the chaos of the city and all the different landscapes and escape resorts that it has. There is so much history and hidden treasures that take you on a wonderful adventure.

The overall vibe is a very happy cheerful one and the country is just so colourful and full of beautiful, confident women that dress for who they are. Meanwhile, this is the highlight of the campaign and the main element that I really wanted to bring out in the pieces.

What did you add to Bambah through the new collection?

We wanted to portray the ‘best of Bambah’ for this particular shoot; starting from the first season, SS15, till our latest FW17, which has not been fully revealed to the public yet.

It was almost like a celebration of our achievements to date, as each piece represents a very special moment that I would love to cherish forever. As our pieces are timeless classics, it was important to highlight the best styles that were received so well by our customers.

It is almost like an archive or a little exhibition reminding my team and I of all the wonderful moments we spent while designing each piece. Every Bambah dress occupies a very special place in my heart and if it was up to me, I would have showcased the entire line!

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Ronaldo’s family arrives in Egypt to attend region’s biggest aqua park https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/18/ronaldos-family-arrives-egypt-attend-regions-biggest-aqua-park/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/18/ronaldos-family-arrives-egypt-attend-regions-biggest-aqua-park/#respond Thu, 18 May 2017 15:06:26 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=625983 They will witness the opening of El-Batros Aqua Park in Sharm El-Sheikh

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The family of Portuguese football legend Cristiano Ronaldo arrived Egypt to attend the region’s biggest water park on Friday.

They arrived with Egyptian businessman Kamel Abo Ali in order to witness the opening of El-Batros Aqua Park, which is located in Sharm El-Sheikh. The new park includes a new hotel constructed with investments that exceed EGP 1 billion.

According to a press release sent by the president of the Red Sea Tourism Investment Association, Kamel Abo Aly, the aqua park covers 80,000 square metres.

Pictures of them visiting the Pyramids as well as the Egyptian Museum before heading to South Sinai went viral among social media users.

Ronaldo’s family is not the first to visit Egypt, for their visit comes two months after superstar Will Smith visited Cairo with his family to spend a couple of days visiting the Pyramids.

Earlier this year in February, Lionel Messi also paid Egypt a one day visit to support the country’s medical campaign to fight Hepatitis C.

Ronaldo's family arrives to Egypt

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La Reina Exchange: a method for affordable designer gowns https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/17/la-reina-exchange-method-affordable-designer-gowns/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/17/la-reina-exchange-method-affordable-designer-gowns/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 10:00:04 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=625694 The main concept is about expanding your closet without keeping up with the investment terms of expanding, says founder

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“I have nothing to wear” is a sentence often repeated by many around the globe every morning. It is also a continuous nightmare for every woman ahead of each and every big event.

Flaunting a new dress to significant occasions is a fashion goal that all women strive to achieve; some might work towards it, while others would surrender to fashion recycling. With the recent price increase and import restrictions, that goal has become even more difficult for local women.

This week, a new cyber hero came to rescue many fashion-forward women that have a difficulty affording their expensive taste and event-studded schedule. La Reina Exchange is a new website that allows local women to trade their designer wardrobes.

While it allows many to flaunt designer dresses on a rental basis, it also gives others the chance to monetise their biggest fashion investments. The website is a local startup based on the idea of rental evening gowns.

Photo Handout to DNE

Ghada El-Tanawy and Amr Diab are two entrepreneurs that started changing the face of local fashion a year ago. After an intensive research left them shocked of skyrocketing prices of bridal gowns, the two started by launching La Reina, a website dedicated to rental designer bridal gowns.

Their first digital startup allowed many women to get their dream dress for a much more affordable price; meanwhile, it has generated money for formal brides that had their valuable gowns collecting dust in the closets.

After an eventful first year, the duo has expanded their horizons to include evening gowns as well. La Reina Exchange is their second project, set to change the way local women prepare for important events.

The new website has a cohesive merge between foreign high-end brands and local designer-made dresses. Accordingly, it accommodates various tastes and budgets.

Daily News Egypt sat with El-Tanawy to talk fashion, monetising garments, and local market awareness.

What is the main concept behind La Reina Exchange?

The main concept is about expanding your closet without keeping up with the investment terms of expanding. It is an invitation for fashion fanatics to look fresh, unique, and fancy at every event that they attend and keep their fashion investment for luxurious items that they plan to keep for a while.

Fashion keeps changing every now and then, and nobody can keep up with its frantic pace.

How far did the current economic changes impact your decision to establish La Reina Exchange?

The devaluation of currency was the main motive behind this project. We suddenly found that the brands we were used to buying for regular events, that have been previously affordable, have suddenly become too expensive over night!

It suddenly made no sense to invest more than EGP 10,000 in a dress just to attend a regular wedding or event.

La Reina Exchange is a new concept; an alternative. This gives everyone that owns a relatively large closet, which they have spent a lot on, a chance to monetise it. At the same time, you can look fresh and fancy with a new gown every time without borrowing your friends’ dresses.

You do not have to be a social butterfly to ensure having a new dress for every occasion.

Photo Handout to DNE

What has the past year taught you about the local understanding of renting garments?

People have accepted the concept of renting a bridal dress, though it is much harder to rent such a sentimental gown. However, we are becoming much smarter shoppers now. You are basically left with two options: you either get something off the shelf and end up feeling regular, or you compromise a little bit and share a designer dress with a very limited group of brides.

When you take something off the shelf, you are also not the only person that wore this exact design; hundreds around the world have already worn it.

On the other hand, it is a real accomplishment to see how people make money out of their dresses and how they are exceptionally happy because they managed to monetise something that has been collecting dust in the closet; it impacts their lives.

Everyone is talking about La Reina, but each group of friends starts dealing with us after the first initiative from one of the group’s members. We have even created an exclusive collection that is not showcased online. We are accepting the people’s concerns at the very beginning and we are betting on the fact that people change once they get used to new concepts.

Before La Reina, they were completely against the concept; now they are doing it, but not in public. However, in the near future, they will say it with pride.

Who are the main designers currently available on the website?

We have dresses straight from the designer house. Gowns from designers such as Amany El-Cherief, Nihal Khalifa, Sara El-Razaz, and Inas Abo El-Komsan. Basically, through this section on the website, we cater for a clientele that wants to be seen in those dresses first.

Rather than going to the designer and buying one authentic piece, they can rent four or five through La Reina Exchange. Nonetheless, they can still be the first one to wear it straight from the designer house—the alterations will even be made at the designer’s atelier, only for a premium price.

This is also an opportunity for the designers to reach a new audience. Many people fear investing a budget in a new designer that they have not dealt with before. This encourages customers to try new designers more often.

Meanwhile, we have another category that includes designers such as Dior, Chanel, LV, Zuhair Murad, Armani, Iman Saab, etc.

We have a wide selection of designers—local and international. We are trying to support local designers; therefore, we try to keep the majority of our collections locally made. Nonetheless, part of our launch plan is to move towards the Middle East with the main focus on each country’s local brands.

How do you filter your clients?

For the bridal line, we have a form that all potential clients have to fill in ahead of the process. For example, we have a specific list of hotels that we cater to, and all brides have to choose the venue, because we want to keep a certain image and standard.

For La Reina Exchange, we also aim to have a firm filtering process that we are still working on. We cannot leave it accessible for everyone, because neither the designers nor the dress owners would want their gowns to be seen on anyone.

Photo Handout to DNE

Why are you separating La Reina Exchange from La Reina on the online website?

Bridal shopping is a very unique experience. You need to have the full designer experience, from stepping into a specialised space to having a stylist helping you find your dream dress and having a team to deal with you through your bridezilla moments, plus all the necessary fitting appointments.

However, in La Reina Exchange, the client is often outgoing, fun, and fast. She wants to look fresh, young, and fashionable all the time. She just needs to order the dress online and get it delivered to her house.

How far does the local market currently support fashion startups?

Almost two years ago, when we started our survey for La Reina in general, the majority of people did not give us much attention as we talked about designer dresses. However, if you are keeping an eye on the rapid expansion of local designers in the market, you will realise that the number of eligible designers is growing aggressively every year.

Each person currently values looking authentic in a designer piece. We no longer have online websites and social-media accounts that promote designer copies. The local market currently supports Egyptian designers with extended pride.

Now walking into a regular dinner feels like stepping into a red-carpet event, just because everyone is dressed up from the latest local designers.

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8th season of Fashion Evolution https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/27/8th-season-fashion-evolution/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/27/8th-season-fashion-evolution/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 19:01:36 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=623456 Cairo Fashion Festival April 27th – 29th, 2017

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Cairo Fashion Festival (CFF), in collaboration with Cairo Festival City Mall (CFCM), is back this April—brought to you by “selfie expert Oppo camera phone”—celebrating the eighth season of Fashion Evolution. The festival takes place from 27 to 29 April 2017 at CFCM Festival Amphitheater!cff
Cairo Fashion Festival is a three day extravaganza featuring both leading and emerging designers from the region. The festival is mostly known for scouting fashion talents, and this season they will showcase fresh, talented designers as usual. As for international designers this season, Cairo Fashion Festival and Cairo Festival City Mall present to you the breathtaking designs of Hama Designs, which have captured the eyes of the beautiful Queen Rania of Jordan and other royalty.
The theme of this season is inspired by carnivals and amusement park vibes that embody a fashion wonderland, with its soft, white, pastel, and vintage vibes. The fashion shows and presentations will feature the SS’17 and FW’17/18 collections from top Egyptian, regional and international fashion designers and brands.
For the start of the festival, CFF has joined forces with the top exhibitors to create a brilliant bazaar, with over 20 exhibitors in the mall’s Festival Promenade. The bazaar will run from 10:00am till 12:00am, without any invitations needed. Everyone can enjoy an endless day of shopping from a huge variety of unique exhibitors.
On 28 April, the exclusive event will include more than ten runway shows, non-stop fashion presentations, and a glamorous red carpet. Needless to say, the show’s lineup will blow your wardrobe dream and introduce you to the top fashion trends in hair and makeup beautifully styled by Kriss Beauty Salon.
As per tradition, Cairo Fashion Festival will take place in the ever-so-grand Cairo Festival City Mall—strategically located in the spacious outdoor arena. Luckily, shoppers at the mall can also enjoy the show live on Cairo Festival City Mall’s mega screens.
CFF, in cooperation with CFCM, will give major support this season, as they have collaborated for the second time in a row with the best fashion university worldwide, London College of Fashion. CFF will give the opportunity to one of the festival’s designers to attend the university for a short course fully funded by Cairo Festival City Mall
DHL once again has tapped into the fashion industry and has created a global international campaign around upcoming fashion designers. DHL has joined forces with CFF to create a heated competition among all the designers, with a grand prize to be announced at the end of the event.
The red carpet event this year will be welcoming over 3,000 VIP guests, ranging from global media representatives to society’s top fashion elite.
CFF’s management expressed their happiness with their collaboration with CFCM for the 8th time, in addition to their partnership with “selfie expert Oppo camera phone” for the first time this season.
Sam Hosn, the general manager of Cairo Festival City Mall, has said, “CFCM is always keen to support the Egyptian fashion industry and the young entrepreneurs to help make Egypt’s future a brighter one. CFCM’s 2nd grant to the London College of Fashion is just one more way we are able to help the fashion industry, by giving a fashion designer the tools to become their best in fashion worldwide.”
Omar Madkour,the CEO of CFF, also stated that he and the whole festival team are grateful to all their partners and sponsors, as they have helped in taking the event to higher level, and he assured that it

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Cairo Wedding Festival season 2: bringing bridal dreams to life https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/27/cairo-wedding-festival-season-2-bringing-bridal-dreams-life/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/27/cairo-wedding-festival-season-2-bringing-bridal-dreams-life/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 11:30:41 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=623349 Weddings are a life-long dream for many people around the country. The long-anticipated night includes an endless number of details and necessities that future brides and grooms spend months looking for. After a very successful season last year, Cairo Wedding Festival (CWF) came back for a second season last weekend at Uptown Cairo. From gowns …

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Weddings are a life-long dream for many people around the country. The long-anticipated night includes an endless number of details and necessities that future brides and grooms spend months looking for.

After a very successful season last year, Cairo Wedding Festival (CWF) came back for a second season last weekend at Uptown Cairo. From gowns to jewelry, flowers, invitation cards, photographers, and even dentists, the event’s long list of exhibitors did not leave any wedding-related detail out.

“For our second season, we want to go bigger, better, and more luxurious. We wanted to focus on the vendors, fashion, and wedding trends of the year. We wanted to bring the best of the best in the industry. We have lots of exhibitors that offer a diversity of products and services, something that couples nowadays highly seek. All young couples want things that are different and unique,” said Morien Ghaly, social media specialist for CWF.

With each booth showcasing a different related product, the exhibitors have also competed to stand out further. The team behind CWF has given each exhibitor the chance to decorate their booths, which led to a diversity of bridal display.

On the other hand, the second season also has a fashion show, related entertainment, and A-list celebrities among the front row audience.

“Basically, we aim to curate an area where brides and grooms can find all of what they need. Furthermore, we also help them through offers, prizes, and discounts—courtesy of our exhibitors. We try to make the whole pre-wedding process far easier for them,” said Ghaly.

The event hosted 80 exhibitors and four fashion shows, including Raghda Helal and Amira Khazamy, who showcased their couture collections, as well as Bridal Veil, which presented its selection of imported bridal gowns, and, finally, Botros jewelry.

“We always aim to put brides at the core of our interests and plans. Every year, we plan to offer her more to meet her needs. Brides want a fairytale wedding; meanwhile, they also want to have something different. We offer as much diversity as possible. We are always keen on choosing exhibitors that meet a wide variety of brides,” said Ghaly.

According to the team, their main goal during the second event was to raise awareness regarding their work and position CWF as the wedding hub in the Middle East. Through their selection of partners and services, they reached out to brides and grooms that are currently in the process of planning their own weddings.

“We mainly chose Uptown Cairo for the open-air atmosphere; even though, today was extremely hot. But, in this atmosphere we get to equally enjoy the sunset as well as the fireworks show,” said Ghaly.

Despite the unstable weather, the crowd enjoyed the clear sky and light breeze at night, while the entertainment lineup unfolded.  According to the organisers, the fresh and open aesthetic is highly linked to how they aim to present themselves. “This is the atmosphere we seek: glamorous and relaxing, where you will mingle with your friends and network while enjoying the night,” said Ghaly.

By the end of the glittery night, the team added that they are already working on the upcoming season. “As soon as we finished the first event last October, we took a few weeks off; then we started working on this season right away. We already have upcoming ideas for the coming season. We never stop; we are always working and searching for the next big thing,” concluded Ghaly.

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Sandra Mansour: international fashion talent on the rise https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/27/sandra-mansour-international-fashion-talent-rise/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/27/sandra-mansour-international-fashion-talent-rise/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 11:00:17 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=623346 “Rudolf Bauer, the avant-garde German painter, was also a huge reference in the Doux Reves collection,” says designer

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She is a strong woman that believes in the power of dreams. She enjoys a calm morning among the city’s most iconic artistic attractions. Each line and each frame is a close friend that she grew up gazing into.

While she appreciates art, she also sees beauty in the sharpness of geometry; she cannot help but fall for the simplicity of straight lines and the balance of rectangles.

Even though she appreciates practicality, she often fails to ignore a well-embroidered tulle fabric. She is a fashion aficionado, who waits from season to season to wear Sandra Mansour’s latest designs.

Mansour is the region’s new fashion star that has managed to attract increasing attention across the Arab world, as well as in Europe and the US.

Despite the region’s intensive appreciation of couture fashion, Mansour specialises in ready-to–wear (RTW). Unlike the region’s well-known list of international designers, Mansour prefers creating affordable garments that could be restyled and shuffled multiple times.

After launching a couple of successful collections, her aesthetic effortlessly captured many women across the globe.

While being based in Lebanon, Mansour regularly showcases her new masterpieces at Paris Fashion Week (PFW). On the other hand, she is also a favourite of many international clients due to her presence on the world-wide acclaimed ecommerce website, Moda Operandi.

Even though it is widely known that the fashion industry is often linked to cities such as New York, Paris or Milan; Mansour is keen on maintaining her brand in the heart of her home land. According to the designer, building a successful global brand in Lebanon further adds to her aesthetic and long-term goals.

With that said, the young designer favours a simple and dreamy taste. Nonetheless, her work is widely known for smart details, intricate fabrics, and eye-catching embellishments.

Daily News Egypt talked with Mansour to learn more about her RTW label, bridal designs, and upcoming plans.

How would you define your aesthetic?

Elegant and effortless.

What made you establish your brand in Lebanon, despite studying in Paris and regularly showcasing your collections at PFW?

I came back to Lebanon for several reasons. The essential one being it’s thriving with inspiration; the colours and the people; one can’t help but be inspired.

Another aspect was the craftsmanship. Lebanese tailors are some of the best in the world, and they helped me and my vision come to life. It was also very important for me to be recognised as a Lebanese designer, as it was evident that the market was growing and I wanted to be a part of it.

Who is the Sandra Mansour bride?

She is soft, elegant, and strong. All bridal gowns are made to measure, so the brides I work with are beautiful, strong women with a very firm sense of what they want and what they aspire to look like on their wedding day.

Why did you favour specialising in RTW rather than couture?

I love RTW and couture, but with RTW, I create pieces that can be translated into individual outfits day and night. On the other hand, with couture, you are limited to dramatic pieces that are not as easy to wear.

How did being available on Moda Operandi affect your brand?

Moda Operandi gave me exposure, especially in the US market. Working with them has also allowed me to experiment with different design possibilities. For instance, we have teamed up to create capsule collections; our most recent being a Kaftan Capsule collection for Ramadan.

Tell us more about your FW17/18 collection. What was your main inspiration behind it and what are the main stories that you aimed to communicate through it?

Surrealism played a great role in our FW 17/18 collection; it was inspired by the manipulations of art and fabric.

Using the technique of fabric patchwork re-embroidered together to create a story, expresses the interpretation of every individual in each piece.

Rudolf Bauer, the avant-garde German painter, was also a huge reference in the Doux Reves collection, as geometric shapes came to life while interpreting dreams and their repetition.

What is your favourite trend for FW17/18?

I try not to follow trends; I really try to set my own for myself and the brand.

What are your near-future plans?

A ready-to-wear bridal line and a boutique that envisions the Sandra Mansour journey.

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Sandbox opens the boundaries of autism https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/20/sandbox-opens-boundaries-autism/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/20/sandbox-opens-boundaries-autism/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=622507 Art is a common method of self-expression. Even though forms of this expression may vary from one person to another, based on talent or preference, it remains one of the most evident non-verbal methods of communication. Autism is a daily challenge that one million Egyptian citizen go through every minute of every day. While many …

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Art is a common method of self-expression. Even though forms of this expression may vary from one person to another, based on talent or preference, it remains one of the most evident non-verbal methods of communication.

Autism is a daily challenge that one million Egyptian citizen go through every minute of every day.

While many stereotypes interfere with the way autism is understood and perceived, the society often falls into the trap of applying further isolation upon autistic individuals.

Sandbox has highlighted many causes since its inception

Sandbox has highlighted many causes since its inception

Sandbox is a local jewellery brand that aims to prove the importance of art communication. Suhayla Al Sheikh is an artistic visionary that considers jewellery to be the most intimate form of art.

Since establishing Sandbox, Al Sheikh has tackled a few contemporary causes and dilemmas, including women empowerment, as well as the political turmoil taking place in Syria and Iraq.

This season the designer aimed to take her personal form of communication to those who need it the most.

Through a limited-edition design in collaboration with the Egyptian Autistic Society (EAS) and advertising agency Momentum Egypt in EAS’s sixth campaign, the designer opened a communication portal with mothers of autistic children.

The designed necklace embraces the international symbol of autism, while highlighting the names of the mother and her kid. Meanwhile, she has also created a second variation that supports the cause without highlighting any names—in an invitation for more people to join the movement.

Daily News Egypt sat with Al Sheikh to talk design, communication through jewellery, and the contemporary causes that need instant support.

Why did you choose the design’s main shape to be a puzzle piece?

The puzzle piece is autism’s main symbol worldwide. It reflects the mystery and complexity of autism. It reflects the puzzling condition of autism, and the hope of being able to fit in.

Initially, we agreed with the Egyptian Autistic Society and Momentum on incorporating the symbol. It was a main condition from the start.

On a further note, for me, it was very important to use this renowned symbol, so that the design is recognisable as a jewellery piece in support of the cause.

Incorporating the puzzle piece also makes the design much more intimate to those who deal with autism; more than any other design.

What are the main stones used in this limited-edition design?

Blue is a sign of hope for autism. The entire campaign we did in collaboration with the EAS and Momentum Egypt revolved around the colour blue.

Therefore, to incorporate this element of hope into the design, I decided to use a blue stone as part of the design, implemented in the crushed stone technique used in Sandbox designs.

There are various blue stones; however, the kyanite stone is believed to bridge gaps of communication, evoke loyalty, and embrace the fair treatment of others.

All these characteristics are crucial in improving the situation of autistic children in our society. Therefore, I chose to use the kyanite stone to evoke not only a sense of hope, but also a sense of communication, loyalty, and positive treatment towards autistic children.

Al Sheikh uses her jewellery line as a method of expression

Al Sheikh uses her jewellery line as a method of expression

What is the main message that you would like to communicate through this particular design?

This design is placing autistic children on a high pedestal; acknowledging their unattested vibrant minds and the strong artistic elements that many of them have.

As a detailed description of the design, I chose to make the side with the autistic child’s name more artistic and vibrant due to the colourful minds and skills many autistic children tend to have.

On the other hand, the mother’s side is simpler and less vibrant to emphasise a sense of maturity and calmness in relation to the other side.

Moreover, given that the puzzle piece is used as a symbol of autism to symbolise the mystery of autistic children and their lack of ability to fit in, I made sure to close in the gaps of the puzzle piece itself (as evident on the right and left circular parts of the puzzle piece) in order to indicate the fact that autistic children do actually belong and should be accepted as such.

Closing in the gaps of the puzzle as part of the necklace’s design is a subconscious message conveying the anticipated progression of autistic children fitting in.

How would you evaluate the feedback?

Well, I do not think that anything is ever 100% successful. I am one of those people who find that anything done could have ALWAYS been better.

With that being said, the feedback was great! People reacted positively to the design and the campaign. I got orders for the necklace by people who are directly affected by autism and by others merely wanting to support the cause.

That is what we were initially aiming for. So in that sense, I would say that the campaign was a success.

According to the designer, jewellery is an intimate method of expression

According to the designer, jewellery is an intimate method of expression

What other causes would you like to shed light on through your brand?

For me, shedding light on any cause that does not get enough attention and is in desperate need of being widely discussed is something I hope to do with Sandbox as often as I can.

If it is an issue that already gets enough attention, but my work can create a further reason for improvement, then I am all for that as well.

I want to work on causes where I am genuinely generating change, not just participating or working for the sake of attention or self-satisfaction. That is what truly matters to me.

As cliché as it may sound, I am very passionate about improving issues that affect our society and people negatively. This can come in the form of all kinds of causes.

I have touched upon that in Sandbox’s “Rising from the Ruins” collection, by turning Syrian and Yemeni war ruins into beautiful art. Furthermore, I will also be doing so once again later this year through a special jewellery collection, in collaboration with an unexpected twist to a very specific cause.

So, as long as Sandbox continues to grow, I hope to continue rendering positive change through meaningful causes; through the art of jewellery.

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Cairo Wedding Festival: glamorising every bride’s dream https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/20/cairo-wedding-festival-glamorising-every-brides-dream/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/20/cairo-wedding-festival-glamorising-every-brides-dream/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:15:34 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=622564 After the huge success on the first Cairo Wedding Festival, an even greater season is about to see the light

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After the huge success on the first Cairo Wedding Festival, an even greater season is about to see the light. Cairo Wedding Festival season 2 is a must go for all brides. Here is an exact breakdown of what CWF is and why ladies should head for The Clubhouse, Uptown Cairo on 21 April.cwf
Wedding shopping can often be a hassle. Brides run from one place to another in pursuit of the best jewellery, the best make-up, and the best cakes.
Of course being not so experienced in wedding shopping, there are things that are completely alien to every bride. But what if there’s one place to provide brides everything in the same place? In only one place, brides can meet hair stylists, fashion designers, wedding venues, beauty experts, makeup artists, photographers, jewellery designers, wedding planners, honeymoon planners, spas, catering services, and florists. Anything under the umbrella of weddings will be right there.
Brides will no longer turn a blind eye toward anything in their wedding because they have everything right there in front of them. We will guide them through it all!
CWF aims to deliver top notch quality service. Brides will meet prominent beauty experts, captivating photographers, and steadfast wedding planners, among many other outstanding experts in the fields of beauty, makeup, and fashion.
Emphasizing on the concept behind a “festival”, the whole event of course will be very joyous, from a fireworks show to an exquisite buffet. As the DJ plays the latest hits and beats, CWF will be spiced up as everyone gets into a festive mood ready to celebrate and party in the most elegant atmosphere.
In essence, all brides will get the chance to interact with the finest exhibitors in the wedding industry while enjoying the festive atmosphere.

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Fashion between tolerance and politics  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/30/fashion-tolerance-politics/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/30/fashion-tolerance-politics/#respond Thu, 30 Mar 2017 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=620248 Growing up with stereotypes is both confusing and pressuring. In many parts of the Middle East, women are often categorised based on mistaken concepts and outdated ideas. The women of Iran are a controversial topic that often ends with generalised assumptions that could not be further from the truth. Recently, many Iranian women have decided …

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Growing up with stereotypes is both confusing and pressuring. In many parts of the Middle East, women are often categorised based on mistaken concepts and outdated ideas. The women of Iran are a controversial topic that often ends with generalised assumptions that could not be further from the truth.

Recently, many Iranian women have decided to take matters in their own hands to communicate their true identity and reality. Hoda Katebi is a true example of a cultural ambassador. The elaborate Iranian writer, photographer, and activist living in Chicago does not hold back from speaking on behalf of young local women.

Through her fashion blog, Joojoo Azad, and her photographic book, Tehran Streetstyle, Katebi aims to shed light on the truth of Iranian women and their fashion. Through her regular blogs, Katebi links fashion and hijab to politics and global business trends. Meanwhile, she also captures casual sceneries from the everyday streets of Tehran.

Other than women from her homeland, Katebi also seeks to highlight the unfortunate conditions Musilm women endure in hidden sweatshops. Many global brands depend on illegal workshops in order to reduce retail costs on the expense of women that are over worked and under paid.

Daily News Egypt talked with Katebi to discuss the recent spread of hijab-wearing models on international runways, as well as the apparent political Islamophobia that is being met with tolerating fashion, despite brands’ dependence on Muslim women in illegal sweatshops.

Through her blog, Katebi aims to shed light on the political importance of fashion  (Photo Handout)
Through her blog, Katebi aims to shed light on the political importance of fashion
(Photo Handout)

How can hijab-wearing models walking on international runways impact Middle Eastern fashion creatively and financially?

There are a lot of factors that would go into answering this question!

Do the models wear the hijab outside of the runway, or are they just wearing it to tap into a billion dollar industry or be politically on-trend while they continue to exploit Muslim women in sweatshops?

In today’s political climate, the already-existing hijab fashion industry is harmed by brands coming out with hijabs on runways to feign support for Muslims while they continue to exploit Muslims in their factories abroad.

When Nike came out with a new “pro-hijab” campaign, they were hailed as revolutionary and game-changing, erasing the fact that Muslim-owned and Muslim-designed brands have been creating sportswear for hijab-wearing women for years. And now, they also have to compete with one of the largest brands in the world.

How would you evaluate the importance and influence of Halima Aden’s participation in a few key runway shows, including Yeezy?

There is no doubt that Halima Aden’s signing as an IMG model is beautiful and groundbreaking. Representation is vital, and I would have loved to see more Muslim, hijab-wearing women as fashion icons growing up—especially given she is a Black Muslim refugee.

But, at the same time, as models typically get little to no say in what runway they walk in, I found Kanye’s usage of Aden in his runway particularly problematic: how can Kanye pretend to be “pro-Muslim” or “pro-refugee” while simultaneously outwardly endorsing a president whose policies continue to create refugees and then proceed to ban them from the US?

Is modest fashion week a necessity, or is it discrimination against hijab-wearing women?

I do not see modest fashion week as either a necessity or a form of discrimination. I do find it to be valuable, as it gives Muslim women the platform to showcase their work designed with Muslim and hijab-wearing women in mind; but, at the same time, I do not think a fashion week designated specifically for “modest-wear” is a necessity. We have been coming along fine without them for centuries.

If you can choose one face to represent fashion in the Middle East, who would it be?

Given the incredible diversity, history, and political significance of fashion in the Middle East over the years, I do not think it would be possible to pick a single face to represent an entire region’s fashion!

Even for one country alone, that would be difficult. Underground fashion in Tehran, Iran, is wholly different from streetwear in Mashhad, Iran.

How can fashion be used as a global language that Muslim women can use to communicate with the world?

There is little doubt that fashion is a powerful tool of communication. Fashion is an important expression of culture, identity, and ethics (although the latter is less overtly visible and depends more on where you chose to purchase your clothing from).

As someone who oftentimes finds comfort in loud, bold, clashing colours and patterns, it is difficult to look at me and see me as weak, docile, or oppressed—tropes that are always associated with Muslim women and tropes I get to twist and shatter just by getting dressed in the morning.

One of Katebi’s most-highlighted topics is the significant issue of exploiting women in illegal sweatshops  (Photo Handout)
One of Katebi’s most-highlighted topics is the significant issue of exploiting women in illegal sweatshops
(Photo Handout)

What is the most common western stereotype regarding Iranian women and their fashion?

Just google “Iran women” and you will see the same images that are constantly blasted on our television screens here in the west: women wearing all-black from head to toe and the chador (a long covering that is worn over clothing and usually held under the chin).

Images of militancy, violence, oppression, and darkness are always recalled when speaking to people about Iranian women and the ways in which they are required to dress in public.

Yes, there is a state-sponsored dress code, but it is also important to note that it is minimally followed and scarcely enforced.

What encouraged you to publish “Tehran Streetstyle”?

For exactly those reasons above, my book Tehran Streetstyle challenges mainstream, orientalist misrepresentations of Iranian women, as well as domestic Iranian government dress codes. I celebrate the diversity and complexity of underground and largely illegal fashion found in the streets and alleys in Tehran, while also exhibiting a diversity of interpretations of modesty and hijab.

I finally decided to publish after pleas from both my western audience yearning to learn more about my culture and Iranian fashion (which is fair, given that there are not many of us who document Iranian streetstyle!), as well as underground Iranian fashion designers I interviewed for my ethnographic research, who asked me to create something celebrating our people and challenging media renditions.

Many well-established global brands have introduced limited-edition abaya/modest collections. In your opinion, have any of them succeeded in truly reaching out to Middle Eastern women?

The hijab/modest-fashion industry is worth billions. There is no doubt that well-established global brands are using limited-edition abaya/modest collections as a way to profit from this industry.

And there is also no doubt that seeing mainstream clothing brands cater to you and your taste is exciting, after years of them pretending you do not exist.

But we should never be so easily swooned by surface-level inclusion at the expense of exploitation of our sisters in their factories abroad. If you really want to reach out to the Muslim community, please start with your sweatshops.

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2017: a new era for hijabi women in fashion https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/30/2017-new-era-hijabi-women-fashion/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/30/2017-new-era-hijabi-women-fashion/#comments Thu, 30 Mar 2017 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=620249 Walking in mega shopping malls around the Arab world is often a journey among the world’s number one commercial campaigns. From ethnic models to Caucasian women and men that equally fail to relate to Middle Eastern beauty aesthetics, shop windows and flashy ads often display an obvious neglect of many countries and ethnicities. Manal Rostom …

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Walking in mega shopping malls around the Arab world is often a journey among the world’s number one commercial campaigns. From ethnic models to Caucasian women and men that equally fail to relate to Middle Eastern beauty aesthetics, shop windows and flashy ads often display an obvious neglect of many countries and ethnicities.

Manal Rostom is an Egyptian pharmacist and athlete that refused to stay unrepresented in her favourite brand’s campaigns. After years of growing up in a world that stereotyped her nation and women she could relate to, Rostom wanted to change what she considered unacceptable.

In 2014, the successful long-distance runner became the first hijabi woman to step into Nike HQ to be featured in the brand’s global campaign. Today she is part of a campaign taking the fitness and fashion industries by storm—the world’s first pro-sport hijab by a world-class brand.

Even though many Arab-based brands already have a wide range of alternatives, this particular move from Nike is widely celebrated as a gesture of acceptance and tolerance.

Daily News Egypt talked with Rostom to discuss her courageous endeavour, her struggle as a hijabi athlete, and the importance of the Pro Hijab.

What encouraged you to contact Nike for the first time back in 2014?

The first time I contacted Nike was in November 2014; after I founded my support group on Facebook for women surviving hijab. It was basically founded to reach out to women in Egypt and other Arab countries, which are dealing with having to take off their hijab or not being comfortable with it.

For many reasons, I did not want to be one of these women that were going to take off their hijab, so I decided to create this group. It grew so rapidly that we reached 40,000 women in the time between August and November.

I thought that it was a great opportunity to contact Nike and introduce myself through the Facebook group and the fact that I was an athlete that took part in several triathlons. I simply told them that I wanted to see Arab Muslim women running in their campaigns because as a hijabi runner, I wanted to see somebody that represents me.

Through her blog, Katebi aims to shed light on the political importance of fashion (Photo Handout)
Rostom was the first Hijabi woman to work with Nike in 2014 (Photo Handout)

What was the main message that you hoped to communicate through your first collaboration with Nike?

The main message that I wanted to communicate was that we are here and that we do exist in this context: we are active; we run; we are neither confined nor oppressed. I wanted to let people know that we are not limited to raising kids and spending our days in the kitchen like the media portrays us.

I wanted to let everyone know that we are interesting, at least some of us are. Generally speaking, no one should judge a woman based on how she looks or what she chooses to wear to display her faith.

I was the first Arab hijabi athlete to be invited to Nike’s HQ in July 2015 to attend their trainer summit. They recognised me as a sportsperson that lives in the Arab world and they wanted me to represent Arab women.

My images were all over the stores here in the UAE. Meanwhile, I am also the first hijabi Nike run-club coach in the world and the first hijabi trainer in the world as well.

How would you evaluate the impact and importance of launching the Nike Pro Hijab now amid all the political tension and increasing Islamophobia?

The product is crucial for me and my sport as well. I want any woman, who is already veiled, to feel confident that she now has got the product that will support her sport; whatever it is. I want women, who are thinking about wearing the hijab, to not be reluctant or confused.

I was born to Egyptian parents and I grew up in Kuwait. I was always confused about the hijab because I wanted to wear it, but the rest of the world was never supportive. However, as a kid, if I had me or any other successful hijab-wearing athlete to look up to, I would have never hesitated about my decision.

It is actually the perfect timing to launch such a product to the world. For the world’s number one sports brand to support Muslim women is going to change Islamophobia and the way people perceive us. It is going to make people more tolerant and less judgmental regarding hijab-wearing women.

One of Katebi’s most-highlighted topics is the significant issue of exploiting women in illegal sweatshops (Photo Handout)
The Egyptian long-distance runner was one of the key Muslim athletes featured in the Nike Pro Hijab campaign (Photo Handout)

I am a certified pharmacist and sports instructor. I have an Egyptian passport, but then also multiple US visas due to my work in the pharmaceutical industry. Nonetheless, last time, when I was there earlier this year, they stopped me and I was held for three hours in a room full of Arab and Chinese travellers—I missed my connecting flight just because I wore hijab.

For you as an athlete, what are the main positive features that the new Pro Hijab offers to veiled women?

I am an athlete that trains mostly outdoors; I run very long distances in brutal weather. I live in the Gulf area—in one of the hottest countries in the world. When you train for a triathlon or marathon, you train mostly outdoors with limited opportunity to train indoors. The reason why most hijabi women find it difficult to train outside is the heat.

Some women have very sensitive skin so the area around the neck gets agitated and develops a severe rash. The material with those athletes choose to cover their head is quite essential.

The Nike Pro Hijab is coming with dry-fit material that is used in running gear. It is going to impact long-distance training outdoors and heat tolerance. It is going to improve the performance of hijab-wearing athletes drastically.

What are the main characteristics that you would like to promote regarding Middle Eastern women in general and hijabi women in particular?

First of all, Middle Eastern women are not confined to setting up families and catering to domestic life or even raising 5 or 10 kids. Sadly, this is a stereotype that we grew up being scared of. We have many examples of hijab-wearing Middle Eastern women that excel in many fields.

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