Creative director of Carolina Herrera talks through new collection at … – Arab News Pakistan
DUBAI: Dubai Fashion Week began on Monday with Carolina Herrera presenting its spring/summer 2024 collection at Dubai Design District. In town was its creative director, Wes Gordon, who spoke to Arab News about the collection and the importance of the Middle East market to the brand.
The clothes, an ode to Nineties chic, were a combination of understated everyday-wear silhouettes in bright colors alongside elaborate party dresses featuring layers of tulle — both of which would do well in the region.

Dubai Fashion Week began on Monday with Carolina Herrera presenting its spring/summer 2024 collection. (Supplied)

Gordon said that he was “excited” when the label, a New York Fashion Week staple, was approached to present at Dubai Fashion Week.
“I was really excited to come here and show the clothes. Our brand is bigger than the collection you see here. We have a tremendous beauty, fragrance and eyewear business, so as a whole this region is incredibly important to us,” he said.
He also believes that the clothes resonate well with women in the Gulf.

A look from the label’s SS24 collection. (Supplied)

“I think this collection is a real embrace of color, joy and emotional dressing. It’s never for a woman looking to disappear or blend in. The collection is about looking fabulous and feeling fabulous. And I think that’s the mindset of women here when they shop and get dressed.”
On offer was an array of timeless yet modern garments that were also pragmatic. Gordon adds that Caroline Herrera is not only a house about gorgeous gowns — they also have everyday pieces. Think a white poplin shirt, pencil skirts, chic cardigans and cleverly cut blazers.
“I was in love with these Nineties ideas — of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy — and the magic sometimes with just a simple pencil skirt, a crisp white cotton shirt, a pair of beautiful heels and a cardigan,” he said. “Combining simple pieces can sometimes become magic on a chic woman when her personality shines.”

On offer was an array of timeless yet modern garments that were also pragmatic. (Supplied) 

Elsewhere there were evening dresses, which account for a significant part of the brand’s business. A full-skirted buttercup-yellow dress came with a grey sash on the waist,  prom-dress style, while another strapless number shimmered with sequins from top to bottom.
What could not be missed was the mini yellow crinoline strapless dress, which referenced historical silhouettes, but with an ultra-modern spin to it.
“For example, the shape is sculpted to give it this bell shape, and then it’s all embroidered on top. If you look beneath that, you’ll see nothing inside the dress — it’s a completely hollow floating shape — so it’s very modern. Historically, that dress would have been a thousand layers of tulle,” Gordon said.
It was a fashionable and commercial collection — and the perfect start to Dubai Fashion Week, which runs until Oct. 15.
DUBAI: American-Iraqi Huda Kattan, founder of beauty empire Huda Beauty, announced this week that she will be donating $1 million to two humanitarian organizations in Gaza: Human Appeal and Doctors Without Borders.  
“It’s been a MONTH of immense suffering in Gaza, and unfortunately things are getting worse,” a statement shared on her personal and professional Instagram accounts read. 






A post shared by HUDA BEAUTY (@hudabeauty)

A post shared by HUDA BEAUTY (@hudabeauty)
“It’s important that we always stand on the side of the oppressed and use our platform to shed light on any injustice. We cannot stand by and pretend like this is not happening,” the statement added.
“Our Huda Beauty brands, including Huda Beauty, Kayali and WISHFUl, will be donating $1 million to humanitarian organizations in Gaza.” 
On Thursday, Kattan shared an update with her followers on the donation and the organizations she is partnering with. 






A post shared by Huda (@huda)

A post shared by Huda (@huda)
“In these challenging times, with Gaza completely blocked, it’s not easy to find organizations that can provide immediate aid and guarantee resource delivery for those who need it most,” she said. 
“After careful consideration, we are directing out attention to two organizations. One has on ground personnel providing essential medical care to victims, while the other is dedicated to proving clean and safe water.” 
Kattan has been raising awareness on social media about the situation in Palestine. This week, she asked her followers to help her with a list of brands that support Palestine. 






A post shared by Huda (@huda)

A post shared by Huda (@huda)
“I’m trying to do my shopping and I’m looking for brands that support Palestine,” she said in a video posted on her personal account. “If you guys can please help me and just drop down in the comments section below brands that you know and products that you love that support Palestine, because I want to buy them and I support them and I want to know who they are,” she added.
“Right now, I’m having a little bit of a hard time finding replacements for some of the products I’ve been using before, and more information about brands that are supporting the cause and speaking up for justice and for what’s right and against the genocide.”
DUBAI: US actor-turned-director Jennifer Esposito’s mob drama “Fresh Kills” will get its world premiere at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9. 
The film festival, which takes place in Jeddah, this week announced a new set of international films that will launch in its Festival Favorites and Treasures strands. 

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The movies include Anna Kendrick’s directorial debut “Woman of the Hour,” which is a crime drama, and Swedish director Niclas Larsson’s family drama “Mother Couch,” starring Ewan McGregor and Ellen Burstyn. 
Other titles include the David Oyelowo-produced documentary “Allihopa: The Dalkurd Story,” the Women’s World Cup documentary “Copa 71,” with executive producers Serena and Venus Williams, Laetitia Colombani’s “The Braid” and Asmae El Moudi’s documentary’s “Mother of All Lies,” which is Morocco’s Oscar entry this year.

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“We have incredible female directors included in this lineup of both established names and new talent,” said Kaleem Aftab, the festival’s director of international programming, emphasizing that the selection highlights the “changing landscape of cinema” from the Arab world, Asia, Europe and North and South America.
The theme of the festival’s third edition is, “Your Story, Your Festival.”   

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Organizers said on Monday their goal was to provide “a unique and powerful platform for celebrating film, connecting cultures and expanding horizons while welcoming stories from all walks of life.”    
The Red Sea International Film Festival also unveiled its selection of 36 movies from Saudi Arabia, as well as its Arab Spectacular and Red Sea: Competition lineups for this year’s third edition.  

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“Collectively, these strands will showcase the rich and varied work by established and new filmmakers from the region, including documentaries and titles produced by the Red Sea Film Foundation,” organizers said.  
The program will put a spotlight on films made in the Middle East and North Africa region, featuring 36 feature-length and short films from Saudi Arabia.   
DUBAI: For the first time in her life, the Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass found herself uncomfortable in front of a camera. She wasn’t being asked to act. She was being asked to be herself. And the person doing the asking was her own daughter, Lina Soualem.
Soualem wanted her mother to open up. To reflect on her chosen exile and the ways in which the women of her family had influenced her life. Without her honesty and emotion, the intimate family portrait that Soualem had in mind would not be possible.
“When we started filming, I thought, ‘Do I really want to say this?’ And ‘Do I want to suddenly be exposed to people in a way where it’s not a character that I’m playing but it’s myself?’” recalls Abbass, the central figure in Soualem’s “Bye Bye Tiberias.”
“There were times — in the beginning specifically — when I wasn’t very comfortable, and Lina wasn’t feeling comfortable. When she was asking me questions that I was answering as if I was sitting in front of a journalist,” she continues. “I was very factual and very thoughtful and she was looking for something more authentic: She wanted feelings. So I decided to let go and to trust her.”
That trust has paid off. “Bye Bye Tiberias” had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in September and has already picked up awards at the BFI London Film Festival and Festival Cinemed in Montpellier.
Speaking before the Israel-Hamas war began, Abbass is candid about her life growing up in the Palestinian village of Deir Hanna. Although she was born into a family that was full of love, she found it difficult to express her artistic side. For years she kept her acting at the Palestinian National Theatre in East Jerusalem a secret from her parents, and struggled to come to terms with the fact that decisions were being made for her.
“You suffocate,” she says. “You suffocate from everything that is imposed on you. And don’t forget the political conflict and all the wars that we had to go through. This whole double identity: Who do you belong to, knowing that you are Palestinian, but you are a Palestinian in Israel?” The Nakba scattered her family. Her maternal aunt, Hosnieh, became a refugee in Syria and was not allowed to return. The family of her paternal grandmother ended up in Lebanon. Others, too, were torn from Palestine.
“Because I was born in Israel, I couldn’t get to any of these people. My grandma died with no contact with anybody from her family. She was the only person from her family that stayed in Palestine. Being born in this context, and having to prove to people all the time that you are Palestinian… You’re not even allowed to use the word. You cannot say ‘Palestine.’ At seven years old, during the ’67 war, I didn’t understand anything — ‘Who is fighting who? What’s going on? Who do we belong to?’ All of these are such early questions in the mind of a kid, but they stay with you,” she says.
“Being in the middle of all these Arab countries — living in this country that is the enemy of all the countries around you — is a heavy thing. And I couldn’t stand it. At one stage, I really couldn’t stand it… I felt that my place had to be somewhere else, or at least the oxygen that I was supposed to breathe was supposed to be different. I needed a different oxygen… just to be able to build something for myself in my career, in my way of being, in what I wanted to do in my life, without having to give any justification to anybody.”
So, in her early twenties, Abbass left Deir Hanna to follow her dream of becoming an actress in Europe. She eventually settled in Paris, married the French actor Zinedine Soualem (they have since divorced), and had two daughters, Lina and Mouna. Both have followed her into the film industry.
“Everything really came in steps,” says Abbass. “I never rushed the system. I just wanted to savor every minute of the decision that I had made, because it was my own choice. I just was happy being abroad, not working for a while, then happy being a mother and not necessarily an actress. So it felt like I gave time to everything and I have no regrets whatsoever about all these decisions that I made. And my career just came with it. I wasn’t greedy about anything. It built itself up in a kind of very authentic, natural way.”
Her first films were Rashid Masharawi’s “Haifa” and Cédric Klapisch’s “When the Cat’s Away,” both released in 1996. However, it was Raja Amari’s “Satin Rouge” that proved to be a pivotal moment in her career. Released in 2002, Abbass’ portrayal of a Tunisian widow who becomes a cabaret dancer was a “decision with no return.”
“When I said yes [to ‘Satin Rouge’] I thought, ‘Am I doing the right thing? Is this really something I can hold on my shoulders after, because it’s not easy?’ And then I knew that I had to make a decision. It’s either I am an actress, or I am not. So, if I’m an actress, I go and I do it. And if I’m not, it means I stop now and I will never be one. So it was the turning point for me in that I knew by doing this there were people that would be hurt, people that wouldn’t like it, people that would think I’m not who I am — who would disrespect me. But it was the most important choice I made. That movie was a life- and a career-changer for me.”
She would go on to star in films including Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049,” as well as HBO’s “Succession” and Hulu’s “Ramy.” The latter two shows, in particular, have brought her international acclaim. And yet, despite her worldwide fame, much of Abbass’ work has centered on Arab cinema. She has played Syrians and Tunisians, appeared in Hany Abu-Assad’s Oscar-nominated “Paradise Now,” and starred in Arab and Tarzan Nasser’s “Dégradé,” which was set in a hair salon in Gaza.
“Every offer I’ve had from Palestine I said yes to, because it’s very important for me,” says Abbass, who is due to star in Annemarie Jacir’s upcoming film, “All Before You.” She was also artistic producer on “Egyptian Cigarettes,” the second episode in the third season of “Ramy,” which was directed by Jacir and set in Palestine.
Now that “Succession” has ended and “Ramy” is likely to end after its fourth season, Abbass is looking to the future, which she hopes will include Ramy Youssef, the Egyptian-American actor and creator of “Ramy,” who gave Abbass the opportunity to direct an episode of season three.
“I would love to develop stories with him and work with him again,” says Abbass of Youssef. “I have a feeling that the older I get, the more I want to do projects that connect the two cultures I’m involved in. We are who we are because we come from these places, with our culture, with whatever we carried, with whatever we inherited. And, at the same time, we’re living in Europe and we’re living in an influential Western world. Through cinema or TV, I would like these two worlds to meld together and to become one identity. Maybe there is this thing in me that is stronger than ever: To create this melting pot in cinema, where the two worlds can become one.”
And then there’s “Bye Bye Tiberias.” For Abbass, its importance lies in the documentation of a collective memory that is vanishing — something that she is grateful to her daughter for capturing. “I think it’s important to immortalize their struggle,” she says. “Someone like my grandma, she fed me her story, she fed me her beauty, she fed me her love for life, she fed me her smile… It’s nice to know that she’s eternal now.”
DUBAI: Saudi artist Fatimah Al-Nemer’s latest exhibition is called “Dkhoun.” It is a documentary project focusing on inspirational women from the Arabian Peninsula, hosted recently at Mestaria Gallery in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue.  
The project began nine years ago when Al-Nemer, who was born in Qatif in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, started researching and archiving biographies of women who made a huge impact on their societies.  
“I embarked on a mission to explore the worlds of these women,” she tells Arab News. “Through each woman and story, I discovered myself, which enabled me to capture the stories that history has overlooked and shape narratives that immortalize these women, taking them into my world of expressive art.”  
Dkhoun means “the finest types of precious incense” in Arabic, she explains. “‘Dkhoun’ elevates in meaning in my artwork to symbolize the nobility and emotions we feel within, such as goodness, purity, and contentment,” she continues. “When we inhale a certain scent, we instinctively close our eyes to immerse ourselves in the emotions we feel. That’s why I chose this name: it signifies a nobility that transcends the senses, embodying a woman’s insight and her noble essence, resembling the most precious types of incense.”  
The exhibition features eight textile art pieces, each manufactured from silk fabrics layered on canvas panels and topped with acrylics, leaving a symphony of colors and textures that reflect the depth and richness of Saudi culture. 

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“I transform and manufacture pieces, blending silk and various materials on canvas, then weaving them like historical figures on carpets,” Al-Nemer says. “I specialize in documenting the history of women from the Arabian Peninsula using a unique style and multiple techniques. I recycle our heritage in a contemporary artistic style. This method is actually taught in universities as my unique style as an Arab artist specializing in multimedia and processing.” 
For “Dkhoun,”, Al-Nemer drew inspiration from Princess Fatimah, also known as the “Princess of the North.”  
“She was the first princess in the Arabian Peninsula from the Shumar tribe. Her strength and wisdom are renowned, and she led some of the greatest men in her tribe,” Al-Nemer says.  
“I was also inspired by the character ‘Shalwa’ — a symbol of motherhood and tenderness. She lost her father and husband, and raised three young children by herself in a time of hunger and poverty,” the artist continues. “They grew up to become strong and resilient men, among the strongest in the tribe, and they saved the tribe from the ravages of war.” 
Another work was inspired by the story of Ward Jallayah — known in the Qatif region for her adornment of brides, particularly the seven braids during the henna night, the pre-wedding celebration.  
“I also drew inspiration from the story of Salma, a rababa (traditional instrument) player in the Hail region, and the sad love story that she sang about,” she adds.  
For Al-Nemer, “art is a state of liberation from reality,” she says.  
“Every artist seeks a sanctuary where they can shed the burdens of life and, in this sense, art is the salvation that frees you from constraints,” she explains. “Freedom and passion were what inspired me to create miracles.”  

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Al-Nemer also says that art enabled her to overcome her social anxiety. “As a shy child, I was uneasy about associating in a society dominated by loud voices,” she says. “Art became my salvation and my voice on the blank canvas, allowing me to express my thoughts and my personality. I considered art a way of life and my voice a means to face the world without hesitation, boosting my self-confidence.” 
It’s a lesson she is keen to pass on to others. Her advice to parents is: “Don’t hesitate to encourage your child to express themselves through drawing their feelings — it can be a powerful means of self-expression.”  
Like the subjects of her latest show, Al-Nemer says that contemporary Saudi women are “educated, strong, liberated, and leaders.”  
“Saudi women have now risen to many leadership positions due to their determination and perseverance,” she says. “The abilities possessed by our women are unstoppable.” 
DUBAI: The Emirati designer discusses her large-scale installation from the ‘Forever Is Now’ exhibition, which runs until Nov. 18 at the pyramids of Giza. 
My journey started 20 years back, when I graduated with a degree in jewelry and silversmithing. I enjoy jumping from one material to another and working on different scales. A lot of my work is about how humans engage with a space and what they can get out of it as an experience for them.  
When I was shortlisted for “Forever Is Now,” we started the journey of developing the artwork and adjusting it to fit the space near the pyramids. It was overwhelming; the minute you are in such a historical site with that backdrop and seeing the sun move from one side to the other, it’s a dream experience for any artist, regardless of their background. It’s like you’re in another matrix.  
I enjoyed every single bit of it. I had such a wonderful team that helped install my work. We created it in a way that looked like IKEA furniture: It’s pre-packed, then you open it and install it with nuts and bolts. We had to make it as simple as possible. If that wasn’t the case, it would have taken three or four days to install. I think I was one of the fastest on site, installing my work in one day, so I enjoyed the rest of my days in Egypt.  
I’ve worked with many different shapes, but the pyramid form, to me, has a strength. In this artwork, I wanted to create a pyramid — made of mild steel — but in a size and form that gives an experience, mainly revolving around feeling secure in a safe space.  
At the same time, the ‘treasure’ that I wanted people to reflect on is not the golden part on top of the piece, but the gold within them. So, we are the true treasures of the experience, walking through, sitting, and meditating in the artwork.  
Surrounding the pyramid is a representation of sand dunes. I’m inspired by the desert. People perceive the desert as a dead space, but I perceive it as a living space where there are farms, trees, and other living things. That is very important to our society in the region. 


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