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Behind Dubai’s daringly detailed dresses: Interview with fashion designer Ahmed Yousaf

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Heating up the fashion stakes in Dubai, British Fashion designer Ahmad Yousaf, 25 years old, born and raised in London the capital of fashion has become renowned for designing finely detailed couture gowns featured twice a year at Dubai Fashion Week. He has recently had the opportunity to design for UAE’s royal princess Maryam Al Maktoum with no expectations of stopping just yet.

 His latest project with L’nette Boutique owned by Dubai’s royal family focuses on the modern day Muslim women aspired by the cultural arts of eastern fashion forms blended into the fine attributes of feminine couture pieces defining detailed silhouettes.

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M: When did your passion for fashion arise?

 A: I have been passionate about fashion ever since I chose my own ensemble to wear at the age of six. I was hooked on colours shapes and fine detail. I gained an eye for detail and also learnt the importance of organisation at a very young age this made me reliable and competent which was a good attribute to take forward in both personal and work life.

 M: Who have you been most inspired by through your designs?

 A: Since my childhood I was fascinated about creating new stuff which drawn my interest into architecture my favourite architect is Zaha Hadid I was inspired by her style and her quality of capturing fine detail. I focused on exploring this particular aspect through fashion that soon became my signature drawing upon new shapes and the finer details of the female silhouette.

I have also drawn inspiration to the British legend that is Alexander McQueen his unique sense of art and fashion is a perfect combination in creating unique collections. I also find Christian Dior’s colour scheme through couture pieces particularly fresh and stimulating.

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M: How do you feel about exploring modern couture pieces in Dubai?

A: Working in UAE is a great experience, as I explore pieces that have a strong emphasis on the Arabic culture. It’s all about glamour long dresses and full of embroidery that emphasise modern couture. I have never explored this type of work beforehand but learning from the best it was a great combination of shape and embroidery.

Individuals always want to wear the latest creations so being innovative through shapes and the female silhouette is of particular importance in the UAE. There are two seasons that very important for fashion designers in Dubai one in April and another in December where collections are featured on public and private fashion shows. Therefore designs need to be of a particularly high standard. I do design in between these dates for younger and older females exploring both traditional and new styles.

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M: You often talk of the future, being avant-garde. What does innovation of western and eastern fashion forms mean to you?

A: My creations have always been innovative through the western and eastern culture. I explore the modern Muslim woman defining sharp shapes with delicate embroidery and patterns taking route from western influences including Alexander McQueen I focus on Dubai as a developing modern art form through my works. These two cultures in fashion are very strong when applied together as I am able to create gowns that have a strong concept of today’s innovation within fashion. I also design bridal gowns that are very similar with the west yet have a twist of the traditional eastern culture.

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M: The cultural heritage and crafts of Dubai are very important to your creative process. How important is the Western perspective on Dubai?

A: The world’s view of Dubai is very important it’s what I call a modern fusion of mutable fashion of different cultures. I have designed for the royal princess drawing inspiration on the western culture Dubai is very good at celebrating that arts behind every culture which is why I believe it is so successful. Unfortunately, the centre of fashion and art is not Dubai, but nonetheless I find the opinion and point of view of Dubai very useful.

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M: How long does it take you to design?

A: Well about designing something I can’t say how long it takes, sometimes I cannot design for whole day and sometimes ideas just do not stop coming that why I always carry a pencil and paper with me. It may sound very unusual but a few times I create designs in my dreams that I wake up and develop.

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M: A lot of you designs explore modern day glamour what does that mean to you?

A: Glamour is about confidently showing your style, it means standing on your own feet and explore through the arts of culture it’s the way you present yourself through strong shapes and detailed quality designs.

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Interview by Maryam Ali

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Fashion Blogger Naballah Chi on why Hijabi fashion is evolving and developing ones individuality

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Ever since she exploded onto the fashion blog scene Naballah Chi has made a name for herself as a fashion forward hijabi. The island girl from Trinidad and Tobago explores culture and heritage through modestly fashionable clothing, her aim to bring out ones individuality through the comfort of the hijab and fashion.

M: What makes you feel most comfortable with your hijab?

N: I’m honestly comfortable with my hijab no matter what I do. I think I’ve came to conquer being confident in hijab, no matter what the circumstances are, being around other confident Hijabi’s makes me feel right at home.

M: Why have you chosen fashion to express your style?

N: Fashion is something I was born into, so it comes natural. My parents both worked in fashion. My dad was a fashion designer and my mom is an avid fashion designer/seamstress. Being involved in fashion is being engulfed in my natural element…it brings me all kinds of happiness. Fashion has also inspired my life in so many ways, namely to take my natural creativeness far beyond what I think I am capable of achieving.

Style is thus born when I am able to be creative and personalize my pieces, through the conscious arrangement of colours, shapes and movements in an artistic manner, while wearing clothes that fit my lifestyle. My style is a reflection of my personality. It is only when I become creative, then can I become consequently stylish. So in a nutshell fashion enhances my creative ability in expressing who I am.

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M: Who are you most inspired by?

N: There is no particular person who inspires me. My inspiration is my life as every aspect of my life has taught me how to rise beyond any circumstance, no matter how hard I fall.

M:  How do you feel about the Hijab being expressed through the media?

N: I believe the increasing power of the media to define Islam and aspects of Islam, such as the hijab, causes tremendous negative associations with hijab. As a result, people view hijab as oppressive, because the media, which is supposed to be the peoples trusted source, falsely tells them that hijab is oppressive.

Also most people don’t take the time out to educate themselves on the concept of a woman dressing modestly and what Hijab means to Muslims. Hijab is contrary to images that we are bombarded with  where women wear little clothing and expose their bodies in the name of freedom, therefore some people see hijab as taking away a woman’s freedom to choose what to wear, how to live etc. Hijab is meant to free us as individuals and reinforce honouring of the Muslim identity not hold us as prisoners to ideal beauty standards and scrutiny.

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M: Why do you choose to explore the hijab?

N: As a hijab stylist, hijab is now a social enterprise that introduces me to business savvy entrepreneurship and stylish flair; essential skills for any modern Muslim female pioneer.  Muslim women, young and old are always looking out for new ways to incorporate fashion into the way they wear their Hijabs and so Muslim fashion enthusiasts and professionals like myself have found innovative ways to blend both modesty and style, without having to sacrifice the basic elements of what constitutes Islamic dress or the basic elements of fashion.

Being a trendy hijab stylist is how I explore hijab in today’s society. Fashionable hijab has spread vigorously throughout the Islamic world and in some cases in the non-Islamic, as non-Muslims can occasionally be spotted donning headscarves and Islamic-inspired wear for modest fashion. I’m not a gatekeeper between my hijab styles and the general public, because I know my work is surely a way to inspire other women to share their talents and to empower themselves through a positive turn on self-esteem.

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M: Why is there a rise of hijab fashion with modern society?

N: The rise of Hijab fashion redefines what it means to be a modern Muslim woman and now I can enthusiastically flex my marketing muscle in the world of fashion- something that didn’t exist a couple of years back. Having an online hijab store, or even a brick & mortar store, with an array of designs shows that Hijab fashion is empowering Muslim women economically.

I think that Hijab in today’s society has done enough to empower Muslim women and change attitudes towards Muslims in general. In today’s global competitive market, hijab fashion is evolving and one of the utmost advantages of fashion is the development of one’s individuality. When you become confident you can do bold things in the society you live in and as a result you experience inner happiness.

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Find out more about Nabballah Chi fashion through her  blog

Behind Iraqi Art

To dedicate one’s life to art is a struggle even in the most stable society. There are inherent barriers that weed out those who aren’t serious. Those who remain are truly passionate and dedicated to an artistic and creative life. But, in times of upheaval, extreme chaos and war, even the most dedicated artist can be stifled by the immediate concerns of his or her life. Those who continue to produce despite the horror that surrounds them can truly be called an Artist

Unfortunately, artists are the first group to be abandoned in times of trouble. Art is seen as a luxury when starvation, misery and murder are the norm. A fundamental tenet is that art and artists are not a luxury, but are in fact the foundation of society. Art is essential to the survival of culture. It is the very medium of culture. If culture is the foundation of society, then how important the artist?

The role of artists becomes even more critical during times of social upheaval. Unfortunately, support for the arts disappears in these periods, and artists are marginalized. Iraqi Art strives to move the artist from the margins to the centre, to shine a light into the shadows, to give voice to those who have been muted.

Afifah: home to cheap and chic hijabs!

Searching for reasonably priced hijab’s can be a nightmare nowadays? At Salaam Style HQ, I came across Afifah a family run business with a retail store in Luton that has been running successfully for almost two years.

Their aim is to provide customers with modest and stylish clothing, hijabs and fashion accessories for everyday wear and special occasions.

They specialise in exclusive handmade hijabs and offer garments with unique designs without compromising on Islamic values. They aim to accommodate to the Muslim clothing trends of the west.

Sales Associate, Noreen Mohamed,  said “At Afifah we focus on selling good quality products at affordable prices”

I chose a few of their fabulous hijabs that can revamp any look through the range of textures and colours they explore. Which one is your favourite? The scarfs pictured above can be accessed through http://www.afifah-hijabs.co.uk/index.asp.

Trend Alert: Backpack Traveller

The minute that Cara Delevingne sauntered out onto the Chanel spring/summer 14 catwalk carrying a graffiti-sprayed backpack, our love affair with the humble rucksack was reignited. While Chanel’s version is a whopping £2,245 Salaam Style found 10 stylish high street back packs that would add a great retro traveller look to any hijabi outfit this Spring/ summer why not explore this trendy new accessory?

 

The tale of Marrakech

As the Easter holiday is speedily approaching it is time to travel, unwind and most importantly get away from work…work…work. Marrakech is a place full of culture and vibrant colours at Salaam Style HQ we look back at a tale behind our most favourite, statement jewellery pieces.

It was the third day of my Easter holiday that I had long awaited for. The scent of strong home grown coffee steamed through the café I was sitting in. Plates hung on the wall full of swirly intricate detailing as I embraced the art such beautiful setting around an open space a strong male figure blocked my view his hand reached out to me this was after all Marrakech and I was sitting in the middle of a market.

As he opened his hand the jewellery was full of uniqueness. You’re probably thinking ‘hmm I do see Moroccan jewellery in London’s Camden market’ however these pieces had a lot more significance as a followed the gentlemen to his stall I saw two workers at the back hand crafting necklaces with they’re very hand no I asked the gentlemen how did you make all of this fresh jewellery that hung he pointed at a  a tray of metal tools.

The jewellery explored different metals different gems and different carved detailing. Inspiration of the eastern culture crept out through every piece of jewellery. I was a long way from home in the perfect setting to embrace the beauty of such a culture.

Jewellery is a statement and in every piece I seem to understand thoroughly now all of the work was put in to be proud of once I was wearing the jewellery we are embracing a culture with such skill. The limitation of one tool that produced such eye-catching exceptional jewellery I taken away with me a few pieces that I would forever treasure the prints and stunning qualities are an instant reminder of the tale behind the craft of the jewellery I wear.

3 Easy steps to a trendy turban hijab

This trend has been around for a while it can never get old as the turban headscarf is the ultimate chic trend especially for the Spring/ Summer season so get practising with Salaam Styles 3 step guide.

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1. First make sure all of your hair are tied up in a bun, bend your head over and pull the scarf over your head. Tie the ends of the scarf into a knot in the front, right at the centre of your forehead.

2.Twist the ends of the scarf around each other. Start from the base where you tied the knot and continue twisting until you reach the ends.

3.Pull the fabric back across your head. Tuck it underneath the scarf in the back, and make additional adjustments if necessary.

  • You may want to use bobby pins to help keep the turban in place.

5 Dare To Wear Celeb Looks

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1.Suit it up-This month Angelina Jolie proven this look is a powerful metaphor of women evolving from ordinary dresses. The suited look gives a sophisticated, elegant female boss vibe that would have you looking smarter than ever.

hbz-fashion-risks-03-sandra-bullock-md2.  Pinker the better- yes pink is certainly a colour to invest in this summer Sandra Bullock shows how it can be have a delicate look with embroidered detail through the rich candy coloured frock.

hbz-fashion-risks-04-nicole-richie-md3.  Half Time- sophisticated slouch makes a huge comeback this season, it’s the effortless trend you need to explore. Here Nicole Richie teams up a fancy ball skirt with a crop top proving smart and casual wear go hand in hand creating a chic look.

hbz-fashion-risks-05-solange-md4. Top to Toe Print- the jumpsuit is bold and creative this season with a high emphasis on prints.  Solange Knowles created a buzz of print recently by proving just how daringly quircky this look really is. We love it!

hbz-fashion-risks-10-margot-robbie-md5. Mix ‘n’ Match- be creative this season by exploring and mixing together more than one print, Margot Robbie works two clashing prints by coordinating colour pallets leaving an overall powerful fashion statement.

Look For Less! Jessica Gomes nails urban chic

The model that has rocketed the runway for over a year,  Jessica Gomes  proved her style status as she dined with fashion’s elite at Chateau Marmont to celebrate fashion label Sandro Paris. The 28-year-old Australian model looked fabulous then ever in her urban chic ensemble.

She wore torn blue  jeans, with a white top and sleek tailored black blazer.  Accessorised with a black clutch and gold statement earrings. Giving Cara Delevingne a run for her money. At Salaam HQ we loved how Jessica Gomes explored the look that can be taken from day wear to evening wear.

We put together a wonderful mimicked high street look that includes a zebra printed scarf to finish of the statement look. That would ideally be styled as a turban inspired Hijab creating a daringly girly look.