First Published: 2017-08-07

North African designers shine at the London Arabia Art and Fashion Week
Festival organiser Omar Bdour says he is proud to showcase Arab culture, heritage alongside British talents.
Middle East Online

By Saad Guerraoui - CASABLANCA

Dresses by Tunisian designer Hanan Heidari Ben Chamekh

London Arabia Art and Fashion Week served as a bridge between cultures by showcasing artwork and designs from the Unit­ed Kingdom and the Arab world, sending a message of cultural un­derstanding following the recent terror attacks in the British capital.

Festival organiser Omar Bdour said at the opening ceremony that he was proud to showcase Arab cul­ture and heritage alongside British talents and to convey a message of love, unity and hope.

“Such intercultural dialogue through proactive engagement is imperative to break down the bar­riers,” said Bdour.

“We will celebrate everything the terrorists hate. They will never stop our collaboration,” he added in reference to the London Bridge and Finsbury Park mosque terror attacks.

Lord Jeremy Purvis, a member of the House of Lords, told the guests: “I know how the creativity and cul­ture of textiles and design can cross borders. I have made 20 visits to the MENA region this year, including areas afflicted by great tension and conflict; I have seen the best and worst of humanity. Tonight we are celebrating the best of humanity through art, design and literature.”

Ten artists and designers from the Arab world took part in the fes­tival, which included a book fair as part of the four-day programme. North African fashion designers shone at the well-attended opening ceremony.

The fashion event showcased tra­ditional garb with a Western touch designed by Albert Oiknine and Safae Ibrahimi from Morocco and Hanan Heidari Ben Chamekh from Tunisia, as well as British designer Corrie Nielsen’s latest collection.

Jack Pudney, festival events and marketing officer, said the inclu­sion of Nielsen and British artist Mark Coreth was meant “to bridge cultures and promote cultural un­derstanding.”

Ben Chamekh wowed the guests with beautifully handmade outfits inspired by her Tunisian heritage.

“My goal is to show the whole world my latest designs of our Tu­nisian garb,” said Ben Chamekh, whose eight garments featured a royal theme.

“This is my second partici­pation in a fashion show in London. I love the city and its multicultural aspect,” she said.

Ibrahimi said she sought to target a different category of clients and show a Middle Eastern style that is close to the evening gown.

“My style is a mix of the tradition­al caftan and the evening gown. My motto is exclusivity. Every woman who wears my dress is unique,” said Ibrahimi.

Saudi Arabia’s Faris al-Shehri, the creator of the fashion show, said the London show was a rare union of Arab and Western fashion styles.

“Fashion designers showed us how creative this indus­try is from both sides of the world besides the language they want to express through their designs,” said Shehri, who is also the founder of the Saudi Fash­ion Council.

The art exhibition featured the work of Kuwaiti May al-Saad, Saudi Princess Lamia Mohammad al-Sabhan, Qatari artists Amal al- Aathem, Ali Hassan and Ahmad al-Musaifri, Oman’s Alia al-Farsi, Bahrain’s Tariq Saeed and Jordan’s Jehad al-Ameri.

Saad’s paintings depict Kuwaiti folklore as a sign of her attachment to the country’s Bedouin culture, while Musaifri’s artwork touched on sensitive subjects, such as the hardship of women and war-time suffering in a stressful world.

The festival’s book fair included best-selling Algerian author Ahlam Mosteghanemi, who had a book-signing session. Lebanese author, journalist and human rights activ­ist Joumana Haddad, Palestinian novelist Huzama Habayeb and Syr­ian novelist Ghalia Qabbani also took part in the fair.

Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.

 

Iran's Ahmadinejad calls for immediate free elections

Russia pours cold water on UN bid to condemn Iran over missiles to Yemen

Saudi Arabia to boost entertainment in next decade

Merkel calls for end to 'massacre' in Syria

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Russia says Syria rebels rejected offer to evacuate E. Ghouta

UN diplomats press for Syria ceasefire without Russia veto

Iranian minister’s presence at UN rights meeting angers critics

Iran warns it will leave nuke deal if banks cannot do business

Qatar to plant thousands of trees to ‘beautify’ World Cup venues

Pro-Kurdish party says Turkey lying about 'no civilian deaths' in Afrin

African migrants protest Israeli detention policy

Egypt sentences 21 to death for planning attacks

Israeli handball teams in Qatar spark furious outcry from locals

UN report highlights S.Sudan journalist treatment

Palestinian dies after being shot by Israeli soldiers

Gulf states urge Syria to end Ghouta violence

Wanted Bahraini militants die at sea en route to Iran

Iraq urges FIFA to lift ban on hosting internationals

Carnage of Ghouta's bombs breaking families

Blockaded Gaza Strip forced to pump sewage into sea

African migrants start hunger strike over Israel expulsion

UN chief 'deeply alarmed' by Eastern Ghouta violence

Three militiamen killed in Libya car bomb attack

Russia denies ‘groundless’ accusations of role in Ghouta killings

Turkey says whoever helps YPG is 'legitimate target'

Morocco dismantles IS-linked terrorist cell

Turkey urged to end gas standoff with Cyprus

PKK attack near Iraq kills 2 Turkish soldiers

Netanyahu confidant to testify against him

Iran emergency teams recover bodies from plane crash site

Ten dead in more Syrian regime strikes on East Ghouta

Bahrain activist sentenced to 5 years for Yemen tweets

Lebanese president makes landmark visit to Iraq

US declares readiness to talk Mideast peace

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Abbas calls for peace conference in rare UN speech

Egyptian court adds leading government critic on terror list

Yemen government offensive threatens heritage site

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"